The Army and Creation of the Pahlavi State in Iran, 1921-1926
In 1921 Riza Khan, a colonel in the Iranian Cossack Brigade, rode on Tehran and, in a military coup that was to change Iran's destiny, took power. Appropriating the state-building objectives of Iranian constitutionalism and nationalism, Riza Khan embarked on the task of constructing a strong, modern centralized state at the heart of which lay a new national army. Ruthless and cunning, he used the emergent military and political institutions to crush both civilian and military opposition, and in 1926 crowned himself Shah of Iran.
But in the construction of his army Riza Khan relied upon the material bequeathed to him by the reform efforts of the late-19th century and, more particularly, by the constitutional revolution. This text discusses in detail the way in which the modern Iranian army was created, and places the rise of Riza Shah in its historical context. It also outlines the military roots of monarchical dictatorship in Iran.
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