From "The Pride and The Fall"
Iran 1974-1979

A book by Anthony Parsons, British Ambassador to Iran

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I remember a revealing conversation I had with Hoveyda a few weeks later. I had been calling on him at his official residence near the Saadabad Palace compound in north Tehran one evening on routine business. We were chatting about some question which interested both of us when he said that he was late for an appointment with his dentist. As the latter's surgery was in south Tehran, farther away than my Embassy, Hoveyda offered to drive me down so that we could continue our conversation. We set off in his car with him driving and with no guard or escort. It was about 9 p.m. and the streets were well lit. When we got stuck in the first traffic jam, a number of pedestrians, as well as some workers in a lorry, recognised Hoveyda and crowded round the car. He opened the window and talked and joked

with them. They kissed him and patted him on the back, a reassuring scene. When we moved on, I said that it was a pleasure to be driven by so popular a politician. He pointed out that he had been Prime Minister for thirteen years and had always gone out of his way to keep in direct touch with the people; I could see that he was not hated. The conversation turned to the internal situation and I expressed my anxiety at the way things were going. Why did the Shah not respond positively to the dialogue which his people were trying to conduct with him? What did he hope to gain by beating them into silence and by provoking a ghastly incident like the shooting at Qom? How bad was the situation in his view? I shall never forget Hoveyda's reply:

"Well, Tony, you know His Majesty's definition of a dialogue. It is - I speak, you listen. He will not change. The government could do more. Amouzegar is brilliantly clever but he lacks a politician's touch with the people. I hope he will learn before it is too late that government is not entirely a matter of bureaucratic adrninistration. The worst mistake he has made, in his passion to save government money, has been to cut off the large subsidy which I used to pay the mullahs, to keep them happy."

At the time, September 1975, Hoveyda was no longer Prime Minister. - Extracts are from page 61.