From the archives: the Shah leaves Iran for the last time

Anti-shah graffiti in Tehran on January 13, 1979, three days before Iran's last monarch goes into exile

Anti-shah graffiti in Tehran on January 13, 1979, three days before Iran's last monarch goes into exile

On January 16, 1979, the pro-western Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi went into exile and ended 2,500 years of monarchy.

It was the end of a reign of almost four decades and a pivotal moment in the revolution that an Islamic republic installed and rocked the Middle East.

After a stay in several countries, the shah ended up in Cairo, where he died on July 27, 1980.

Here is the story of AFP, translated from the original French, of the day on which he left his homeland.

– The Shah leaves Iran –

TEHERAN, January 16, 1979 (AFP) – Iran is at a crossroads. With tears in their eyes, the shah and his wife left at 0945 GMT Tehran on Tuesday for a journey that, according to observers, they can never return.

A few hours earlier the parliament had voted as Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar, who now held the country. But how long?

"I am very tired," said the sovereign, before he boarded the "Shahin" – a sky blue-white Boeing 707 that he himself controls.

It was to drop him off at 1330 GMT in Aswan in Upper Egypt, where the imperial couple will be the guests of President Anwar Sadat before going to the United States after a brief stopover in a European country.

– Discreet departure –

Iran & # 39; s Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his wife Farah Diba in Marrakesh on January 24, 1979, a few days after they went into exile

Iran & # 39; s Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his wife Farah Diba in Marrakesh on January 24, 1979, a few days after they went into exile

Iran & # 39; s Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his wife Farah Diba in Marrakesh on January 24, 1979, a few days after they went into exile

It is discrete that the Shah of Iran, for the second time since joining the throne in 1941, has taken the road to exile. He underwent a first exile in 1953, during the reign of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.

The only people who accompanied him to Tehran airport, guarded by a substantial contingent of soldiers, were figures near the court, some military officers and the prime minister, flanked by the speakers of both chambers of parliament.

A press conference held by the self-appointed "King of Kings" before he left was canceled at the last minute. The journalists were sent back to Tehran by a coach, with the exception of two of their Iranian counterparts and two official photographers who stayed on the scene.

Before he climbed the gangway, the shah, dressed in a blue suit, told the reporters: "What the country needs now is cooperation between all its inhabitants to put the economy back on track."

The Empress Farah Diba added with a trembling voice that she believed in her country.

When their plane disappeared into the gray sky, an adjutant said: "One battle is lost, but the war is not over yet."

– Jubilation –

In Tehran, as in the rest of the country, the shah's departure, announced on the radio, meant his final defeat.

"The shah is gone, long live (banished opposition leader Ruhollah) Khomeini," exclaimed demonstrators, who immediately ran into the streets of the capital while car tires blew.

Soldiers posted on official buildings and strategic crossings, a red carnation sometimes on their rifles, quietly watched the explosion of joy.

– Khomeini: on the road to & # 39; victory & # 39; –

Meanwhile, from his hometown in Neauphle-le-Chateau near Paris, the fiercest opponent of the Pahlavi dynasty, Ayatollah Khomeini, congratulated the Iranian people for "this first step" towards "victory".

But that victory, the Shiite leader added, would not lie in the abdication of the Shah but in the end of Iran's foreign rule. He called "in this historical time" about the Iranian people and army to prevent all attempts to disrupt the economy.

The Ayatollah also said that he would return to his country – where he was banned for 15 years – "on time".

In Aswan, the Iranian sovereigns stay in the Oberoi hotel, which is to house the important safety features that are available to them.

The rest of the Iranian royal family is already in the United States.

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