x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

The Shah: A poisonous legacy that haunts Iran

This fascinating biography of the Iranian monarch overthrown in a popular uprising in 1979 examines his extravagance, his willingness to serve as a western puppet, and his despotic disregard for the wishes of his people.

The fate of the last shah of Iran, ousted by a populist uprising in 1979, should have served to warn the leaders of those Arab countries now being swept by the tide of change.

Like them, the shah paid the price for his extravagance, for his willingness to act as a western puppet and for disregarding the wishes of his people.

This fascinating biography by an Iranian-American scholar is also a reminder of the shah's only half-thwarted ambition for Iran to succeed Britain as the Gulf's dominant power - expressed in his support in the Sixties for Yemen's royal family, Iran's decisive injection of men and equipment to end the Dhofar rebellion in Oman and, on the eve of the foundation of the UAE, its seizure of the islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, triggering a territorial dispute that rumbles on to this day.

For the region and beyond, though, the shah's most poisonous legacy, brought about by his contempt for his own people, was the creation of a regime that continues to destabilise the entire region, while consigning Iran to international outcast status.