ḴAZʿAL KHAN (Shaikh Ḵazʿal, also known as Moʿez-al-Salṭana, Sardār Aqdas), chieftain of the Banu Kaʿb tribe of Khuzestan (b. Moḥammara, 1861; d. Tehran, 27 May 1936).

Ḵazʿal Khan’s rise to power. Ḵazʿal became the Shaikh of Moḥammara (Muhammarah), the present-day Ḵorramšahr, in June 1897, after his brother, Mazʿal, was assassinated while landing from his boat at Fayliya in the vicinity of Moḥammara. The actual murderers were reportedly “three negroes” (McDouall to Fagan, 2 June 1897: FO 460/1, Admin Report, 1897-8: V/23/73; Lorimer, I/2, p. 1744), but there was suspicion that there had been a conspiracy in which all the heads of the Moḥaysin tribe and most of Mazʿal’s relatives were involved.  Ḵazʿal was “generally suspected” of having been involved in the conspiracy, and the British ambassador to Tehran referred to Ḵazʿal as the main instigator (Hardinge to Salisbury, 5 June 1897: FO539/76); later, in a memo, it was explicitly stated that he had “murdered his brother” (F.O., Supplementary Memo. Respecting Muhammarah, 4 March 1908: FO 881/9179).  Mazʿal had lived in fear “day and night” and always had a steamer ready outside his residence on the Šaṭ-al-ʿArab in case of need (Qaragozlu, p. 138).  His fear would seem more justifiable when it is considered that he was Shaikh Jāber’s second son.  Mazʿal had deprived his brothers, Moḥammad and Ḵazʿal, of their share in the vast fortunes of their father—a matter about which Moḥammad complained to Tehran.  Mazʿal was also described as “a sincere servant” of the Persian State (Qaragozlu, p. 139), and this would not have endeared him to the rest of the Arab chiefs or to Great Britain, whose acquiescence in his assassination cannot be entirely ruled out, though there is no accessible corroborating evidence.  However, in an interview with the British consul at Moḥammara two years before the assassination, Ḵazʿal had promised “to assist British trade, should he ever be in a position to do so” (McDouall to Resident, 10 June 1897: FO 460/1; Lorimer, I/2, p. 1755).  Only a few days after Maʿzal’s murder, Ḵazʿal reminded William McDouall, the British vice-consul at Moḥammara, in a “confidential interview” that he was “now prepared to make good his words” and that “he wished it to be known to the British Government that he was secretly their friend, ... and that even if he were not ‘accepted as their servant,’ he would still render them service in the hope of one day profiting thereby” (Lorimer, I/2, p. 1755).  McDouall, accordingly, advised that he should be supported, especially since the fierce “opposition (of Mazʿal) to (Britain’s) Karun trade will cease under his rule” (McDouall to Resident, 10 June 1897: FO 460/1).  It is also interesting that the assassination of Mazʿal was effected a year after that of Nāṣer-al-Din Shah Qājār and almost coincided with the removal, under great pressure from Britain, of Ḥosaynqoli Khan Neẓām-al-Salṭana Māfi from the governor-generalship of Khuzestan.

Ḵazʿal then sent his right-hand man, Ḥāji Moḥammad-ʿAli Raʾis-al-Tojjār (Ḥāji Raʾis), to Tehran to elicit official recognition, and the latter was advised by the British chargé d’affaires “to call at the (British) Legation as soon as possible.”  The Legation, it was said, “will do all they can to protect the Shaikh’s interests, and the Shaikh in return do all he can to further British interests now and in the future” (Chargé d’Affaires to Resident, Tehran, 26 November 1897, no. 95).  Ḥāji Raʾis was accordingly instructed to “place himself in close relations with the British Legation at Tehrān with a view to mutual advantage.” Ḵazʿal also withdrew a steamer which his predecessor had been running on the lower Kārun river in competition with the British firm of Messrs. Lynch (Lorimer, I/2, p. 1755; Wilson, Precis, p. 33).  As the subsequent developments demonstrated, Britain found in Ḵazʿal a most trustworthy servant in the entire region and the Persian Gulf.  Ḵazʿal was also concerned about his position.  Therefore, when in 1899 the British minister in Iran, Mortimer Durand, toured the south, Ḵazʿal informed him that he was “very anxious for Britain’s support” and pressed him for “some assurance” that Britain would uphold “his independence” in case of a breakup of Persia, which he regarded as imminent (Mortimer Durand, “Notes on a journey from Tehran to Ahwaz …,” Enclosure 2 in Durand to Salisbury, Tehran, 18 January 1900, no. 5: FO 416/2; Lorimer, I/2, pp. 1756-57).

In December 1902, December 1903, and December 1908 (see “Persian Gulf,” Historical Section of the FO, June 1919, pp. 57-58; and Treaties and Undertakings), Ḵazʿal received several written assurances from the British minister at Tehran, Arthur Hardinge, and the Resident in the Persian Gulf, Percy Cox, that Britain would see that his rights were respected by the Persian government.  In 1899 he had already received verbal assurances from the then Resident, Meade (Treaties and Undertakings, p. 1; FO 460/1&2; see also Bāmdād, I, p. 476).  On 15 October 1910, along with the assurances (Treaties and Undertakings, p. 11), Ḵazʿal was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Indian Empire (Cox to Barclay, Bushire, 23 October 1910: L/P&S/10/133), which greatly pleased him and strengthened his position (Administration Report, Persian Gulf and Muhammarah, 1910) vis-à-vis the Persian government and other tribal chiefs.  His esteem and notoriety were furthered by the presentation to him in June 1913 of a picture of King George V (Admininistation Report, Muhammarah, 1913). He had already received the Royal Victoria Medal as well (Wilson, Precis, p. 33).  Furthermore, in yet another letter from the Resident, the assurances were extended also to Ḵazʿal’s successor (21 November 1914; Treaties and Undertakings, p. 15), and in December 1917 he received the title and insignia of Knight Commander of the Indian Empire (Treaties and Undertakings, Appendix V, p. 44).  The heaping of all these titles and medals on Ḵazʿal was not confined to the British government alone.  The meteoric rise of Ḵazʿal’s star was so visible and impressive that in 1903 even the Russians thought it necessary to send their consul-general all the way from Bušehr to Moḥammara to present the Shaikh with the Russian Order of St. Stanislas (Administration Report, 1903-4; Lorimer, I/2, pp. 1861-62).

Not to be outdone by other powers, in August 1902 the Persian government gave him the “exalted rank and title” of Sardār Arfaʿ and a bejeweled sword.  His eldest son, Jāseb, a boy of just 11 at the time, was also decorated and given the grand title of Noṣrat-al-Molk (Administration Report, 1902-3).  By 1913, Jāseb, who at the age of 22 was described by a British official as “weak, childish in character, broken in health by venereal disease” (syphilis; Administration Report, Muhammareh, 1911), and a “spendthrift and incompetent,” had become Ḵazʿal’s successor (Administration Report, Ahwaz, 1913).

The power of the Moḥammara shaikhdom, which had grown under Jāber and Mazʿal, greatly increased under Ḵazʿal (E. Burton, Acting V. Consul at Muhammarah, “Confidential Diary,” 28 February 1904: L/P & S/7/163), who was substantially assisted in this effort by the British support clearly manifested in the honors and decorations granted to him.  It is noteworthy that, in its early assurances, Britain always stressed, at least theoretically, Ḵazʿal’s obligation towards the Persian government (e.g., see Treaties and Undertakings, pp. 11, 15).  This was deemed necessary to check Ḵazʿal’s secessionist tendencies.  However, later, after he was made Honorary Knight Commander of the Indian Empire in 1910, there appeared clear signs that Britain viewed Ḵazʿal as more than a mere subject of the Persian government.  From then on, in their assurances and communications, they always referred to him as the “Shaikh of Muhammarah and Dependencies” (Treaties and Undertakings, p. 11).  Also, from then on his secretary, Ḥāji Raʾis, was referred to as Ḵazʿal’s “Prime Minister” (Administration Report, Muhammarah, 1911)—with the implication being evident.  At this point the Persian government realized, rather belatedly, what was happening in Khuzestan.  So, the Persian foreign minister asked the British minister, Barclay, “decidedly” whether there was any truth in the information that Ḵazʿal was under British protection.  Barclay replied, deceptively, that Ḵazʿal was not a British protected person, but that “we had special relations with him” (Barclay to Grey, Tehran, 9 December 1910: L/P&S/10/133).

The decrees (farmāns).  Political influence per se was not what the Shaikh was after.  Before the 1903 decrees (for the full text of these, see Wilson, Precis, pp. 100-102, Appendices 7-9; Treaties and Undertakings, pp. 26-32), Ḵazʿal felt that his tenure of the areas under his jurisdiction was precarious—a state of affairs demonstrated by the fact that large tracts of land had been bought in the province by “outsiders” like Neẓām-al-Salṭana, Āqā Moḥammad Bušehri Moʿin-al-Tojjār, Naṣr-Allāh Khan Mošir-al-Dawla, and the Baḵtiāri Khans (see, e.g., Shahnavaz, 2005, pp. 144-45).  He was determined to stop this process, and, if possible, reverse it.  He eventually managed to achieve this goal through  methods which, depending on the occasion, ranged from outright intimidation to clever maneuvering and manipulation, all planned and implemented with the direct guidance and support of the British officials.

In March 1902, the Russian Legation protested to the Persian government against irregularities and discriminations at the Moḥammara Customs, which was under Ḵazʿal.  To settle this, Ḵazʿal immediately dispatched his secretary to Tehran (Administration Report, Ahwaz, 1907-8).  Ḥāji Raʾis, who again “consulted the British legation freely during his negotiations” with the government, succeeded in obtaining a “compromise not unfavorable to his master, besides concessions of the greatest moment in matters not connected to the Customs” (Lorimer, I/2, pp. 1750-51).  In January 1903, as a result of the so-called “compromise” and quite astonishingly, Moẓaffar-al-Din Shah issued four decrees.   By the first of these, he granted “as perpetual property” to Ḵazʿal “and his Arab tribes all Persian Government lands in the Muhammereh [Moḥammara], ʿAbbādān [Ābādān], Bahmanshīr [see BAHMANŠIR] and Kārūn districts on which the Arabs and the tribes and tribesmen” of Ḵazʿal had traditionally grown date palms, etc., and constructed buildings, on condition of payment of the usual revenue.  Moreover, on Ḵazʿal himself were conferred “all the lands which are barren and without date palms and trees until now, as perpetual property, so that he may give them to his tribe and tribesmen.”  It was added that the Persian government should have no right to resume any of these lands conferred on the Shaikh, unless by way of expropriation at a reasonable price (Lorimer, I/2, p. 1753; for the texts of the decrees, see Wilson, Precis, pp. 100-102, Appendices 7-9; Treaties and Undertakings, pp. 26-32).

The grant of these concessions to Ḵazʿal must be regarded as one of the strangest measures ever taken by Moẓaffar-al-Din Shah. The naive shah, surrounded by courtiers sympathetic to Ḵazʿal or having been bribed by him, was also confronted with the combined cunning of the British and the astuteness of Ḥāji Raʾis.  So he gave away almost the whole of southern Khuzestan in such a way that, if anybody wanted to build even a hut in Ahvāz, he had to purchase the land from Ḵazʿal (Kasravi, 1977, p. 155).  Instead of using the grant of government land as an inducement to small farmers to populate and develop the area, as was done on the Turkish side, the shah found it easier to issue a single decree and leave the rest of the job to the greedy and ruthless Ḵazʿal, who was supposed to give the lands to his tribesmen to “grow palms and trees thereon, and do what is necessary for rendering the place populous.”  The only condition was that Ḵazʿal and his subjects “should not be entitled to alienate those lands granted to them, or immoveable property situated thereon, to subjects of foreign Powers.”  Initially, it was also “the intention of the Persian Government to reserve to themselves the lands as yet unoccupied” and unsettled, but, like so many other points, “they ultimately consented to waive” that condition too (Lorimer, I/2, p. 1753).  Indeed, in view of the extent of these concessions, it is rather surprising that even the limitation in regard to the ban on the sale of property to foreigners was stipulated.  However, it becomes understandable in the light of the longstanding policy of Iran (continued to this day) to prevent foreign nationals from buying immoveable property (i.e., real estate) in the country.  It also stemmed from the fact that, even before the Kārun opening, there had been some proposals by foreigners for the colonization and “development” of the vast resources of Khuzestan (e.g., see Shahnavaz, 2005, pp. 13-14).  Likewise, by separate decrees of the same date, “the place of Fallāhīyeh (Fallāḥiya),” “the whole of Hindiyān (Hendijān) and Dih Mulla (Deh-Mollā) … together with the land on the east of Kārūn,” and finally “the port of Mashur (Maʿšur),” all regarded as being “part of his jurisdiction” or “the place of his cultivation,” were bestowed on him as perpetual property.  Ḵazʿal was expressly permitted and empowered to exercise in those lands the possessory rights of ownership of every kind.  The combined effect of these grants was to invest him with a very secure title to all of the southern Khuzestan, with the exception of the Hoveyza district, the position of which was anomalous, and parts of Maʿšur, in addition to tracts owned by Neẓām-al-Salṭana and Mošir-al-Dawla (Lorimer, I/2, p. 1754).

The ownership of land in this area by anybody but Ḵazʿal was, however, a potentially explosive issue, since it underscored the totally differing perceptions of land tenure between tribesmen and the lawful owners, and brought customary practice into sharp conflict with legal realities.  Neẓām-al-Salṭana, Mošir-al-Dawla, and other non-Arab large landowners could not exercise their legal rights without exciting tribal disorders and rebellions, as was the case, for instance, in 1896 over Neẓām-al-Salṭana’s lands in Nahr-e Kut Hāšem (Diary, British Vice Consul, Muhammarah, 28 February to 5 March 1896).  Another case was the Taraverdieff Concession (granted by Neẓām-al-Salṭana in 1910), in regard to which British officials predicted that, in the event of execution of the scheme, the tribesmen who would be displaced from their holdings would raise “such difficulties … that the concessionaires will be obliged to retire from the project or sell their interests to Khazal,” since the tribesmen were “not likely to submit to eviction ... by the lease holders” (Administration Report, Persian Gulf, 1910).  By contrast, when the concessionaires were the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC), there was nothing wrong with the immediate eviction of cultivators from the lands needed by the Company.  Furthermore, Ḵazʿal did not protest against it, since British interests were involved.  At the same time, the Baḵtiāri khans who had received the concession money did not seem to be too anxious to provide the displaced peasants with other lands (Administration Report, Ahwaz, 1911).  However, if the Arab tenants of Neẓām-al-Salṭana’s lands raised no objections to the concession, the Shaikh would always make sure that no proprietors but Ḵazʿal himself could exercise legal rights of ownership.  In 1906, for example, no progress was reportedly made on the construction of the British vice-consulate at Ahvāz, whose site was claimed by Moʿin-al-Tojjār.  Therefore, Ḵazʿal obtained an agreement from Moʿin, recognizing the proposed site as the “joint property of the Shaikh’s son and his own son, and the full power of the Shaikh to act on behalf of both the partners” (Political Report, Ahwaz, 1905-6).  It was a simple but effective method by which other owners were forced to give or lease their land in Khuzstan to Ḵazʿal.  This compromise apparently did not affect the customary rights of the cultivators of the soil, but changed the intermediary between them, on the one hand, and the actual owner of the land, on the other.  Thus, the real losers in the short term were the lesser tribal chiefs, like the Bani Ṭorof, who had traditionally fulfilled this intermediary role.  However, in the long run, all other landowners, whose control over their properties had gradually slipped away, were the losers too.  The real winner was, of course, none other than Ḵazʿal.

In 1906, Bani Ṭorof affairs, including the revenue collection, were made over to Ḵazʿal’s charge by the governor-general, Reżāqoli Khan Sālār Moʿaẓẓam (later known as Sardār Mokarram and Neẓām-al-Salṭana), who had earlier received the Hoveyza district in fief (Political Report, Ahwaz, 1905-6).  From then on there were constant rebellions by this tribe, which refused “to recognize the Shaikh’s jurisdiction as apart from the question of paying their revenue to the Persian government” (Adminstration Report, 1908).  In order to subjugate them, Ḵazʿal had to use force almost every year.  By 1911, it was reported that, while Ḵazʿal had been accepted in other parts of Khuzestan, with regard to the  Bani Ṭorof, his power had been “greatly increased” owing to the belief that, having received the title of Knight Commander of the Indian Empire, he “is now under the British protection.”  The implication did not escape the attention of the Persian paper Ḥabl al-matin, which connected the action of the British government in conferring the title with other British acts of interference in the internal affairs of Iran (Administration Report, Muhammarah, 1910).

By strengthening Ḵazʿal, Britain not only supported him vis-à-vis the central government, but also helped him to consolidate his political and economic hold over the rest of the people of southwest Persia, and Ḵazʿal used this support very effectively.  It was also intended to make an example of Ḵazʿal and induce other local notables to emulate him.  However, to achieve his goals, Ḵazʿal had to resort to other methods as well.  To prevent the intrusion of “outsiders” into Khuzestan, which by this time he regarded as his personal preserve, in 1908 he concluded an important agreement with the Baḵtiāri khans (see Appendix to Administration Report, 1908; and Appendix XIII to Wilson, Precis, p. 111).  This was described by the British as “a defensive alliance against aggression on the part of the Persian Government.”  It was stipulated that, should lands that were the property of the Persian government be offered for sale, both parties “will buy in conjunction; one has no right to purchase alone.”  In the districts of Jarrāḥi, Hendiān, and Deh Mollā, and on the banks of Kārun, “Khazal alone could purchase lands” (Appendix to Administration Report, 1908; and Appendix XIII to Wilson, Precis, p. 111).

At the same time, Ḵazʿal was also busy acquiring land on the side of the Šaṭṭ-al-ʿArab run by the Ottoman goverment.  In 1909, for instance, Ḥāji Raʾis borrowed some money from the Germans to complete the purchase price of some date gardens there for the Shaikh (Administration Report, Muhammarah, 1909).  These new purchases were added to the extensive estates that he had inherited before as private possessions, as well as tribal properties.  Thus, in 1910 it was said that, being “such a large landowner both in Basrah and on the Turkish bank of the river generally,” it was “absolutely necessary” for Ḵazʿal to maintain a modus vivendi with the Turks (Administration Report, Persian Gulf, 1910).  It appears that this arrangement, which was favorable to Ḵazʿal, was not liked by the Turks, who must have been alarmed by the Shaikh’s insatiable appetite for land.  Therefore, in 1910, the Turkish Council of State decreed that “no more land should be registered in the name of the Shaikh or his representative, Mirza Hamzah, or the latter’s servant Molla Mostafa” (Administration Report, Muhammarah, 1910), thereby implying that the modus vivendi was a ploy devised by Ḵazʿal to acquire properties in the name of others.

By contrast, despite the existence of the Majles, no such measures were taken by the Iranian officials.  The nearest they came to this was when, as a consequence of the rumored formation of an alliance between Ḵazʿal and Shaikh Mobārak of Kuwait, the question of the former’s suspicious activities was raised; but no action was taken.  On this subject, the British Vice-Consul at Ahvāz remarked that “there is always an inherent readiness in the Persian mind to believe in Shaikh’s desire to emancipate himself from the sovereignty of Persia, though he has done nothing to justify such an inference” (Administration Report, Ahwaz, 1907-8).  Plainly, there was little truth in this statement.  As early as 1900, Ḵazʿal was comparing his position vis-à-vis Persia to “that of the Khedive of Egypt vis-à-vis Turkey” (Wilson, Precis, p. 26).  When in 1902 the Khuzestan Customs was taken away from him, Ḵazʿal evinced great hostility to the transfer and again asked for British protection, expressing a desire to have his position assimilated to that of the Shaikh of Kuwait (“Persian Gulf,” FO, June 1919, p. 57; Lormier, I/2, p. 1757).  In fact, the reluctance he showed at this time for total independence was tactical and out of necessity rather than loyalty.  It was based on his assessment that at that historical juncture an entity such as Khuzestan had to be either under the protection of the local powers or one of the great powers.  Ḵazʿal dreaded and feared the Ottomans (e.g., see the correspondence on the relations of the Turks with Khazal, May to June 1910; L/P&S/10/133) as much as he disliked and distrusted the Persians.  In those days the dominant world power in the Persian Gulf was Great Britain, which was also anxious to provide the Shaikh with every possible assistance and support in return for Ḵazʿal’s loyal cooperation.  However, when Britain appeared to be somewhat hesitant on the question of assurances, Ḵazʿal tried to exploit the rivalries of the two great powers, which indicated his desperate need for foreign protection.  In 1902, when the vexed question of the Khuzestan Customs was under consideration, Ḵazʿal began to toy with the idea of flirting with Russia.  This was also a period when, by setting up a consulate at Moḥammara (Lorimer, I/2, pp. 1757-59), and conferring yet another of the many medals on Ḵazal, Russia was beginning to show new interest in the affairs of Khuzestan.  It is quite probable that this was merely a ploy by the Shaikh to scare Britain into giving him the desired assurances.  If so, his policy met with complete success.  This view is strengthened by the fact that later, having secured the assurances from Britain, he completely abandoned the idea of establishing close links with Russia.

Ḵazʿal and the estates of Baḵtiāri khans in Khuzestan.  The following episodes, which substantially strengthened Ḵazʿal’s position in the region, indicate the extent to which Ḵazʿal was prepared to go to defend his position vis-à-vis “outsiders.”  They also show the degree of commitment that Great Britain felt towards him and underline how fruitful and rewarding their mutual commitment turned out to be for both parties.  Despite the conclusion of an agreement with the Baḵtiāris, Ḵazʿal believed that they were intriguing in Khuzestan in order to undermine his authority.  The real issue was, of course, the conflict of interest between Shaikh Ḵazʿal and the Baḵtiāri khans in the areas over which both parties claimed jurisdiction and the right to collect taxes (e.g., the case of the Karrān lands; see Adminstration Report, Ahwaz, 1910).  Thus, in their contest for supremacy, the question of the ownership of Jarrāḥi lands proved to be a turning point. 

In 1912, the Baḵtiāris bought Mošir-al-Dawla’s half share of these lands and, therefore, managed to gain a foothold in the area.  Ḵazʿal refused to recognize this transaction, claiming that, before it was made, he had leased the lands from the owners, namely, Mošir-al-Dawla and Neẓām-al-Salṭana.  By this time, as a result of Ḵazʿal’s increasing power and wealth, these lands lay in the heart of his domain.  So he claimed the right of preemption (Administration Report, Muhammarah, 1912).  In fact the transaction had been completed before Ḵazʿal even heard about it (Administration Report, Muhammarah, 1913).  The khans had purchased the property as an asset in the political situation.  They were also aware that they would probably make a handsome profit at its resale.  The control of the Arab tenants of the lands by the Baḵtiāris would constitute a menace that Ḵazʿal could not face, in addition to the blow that it would deal to his prestige.  He, therefore, told the British consul in Khuzestan that, sooner than allow the Baḵtiāris to occupy the lands, he would fight the question out with them once and for all (Administration Report, Muhammarah, 1912).  This issue put Britain in a very awkward position.  The British had gradually and carefully nurtured close and friendly ties with both parties.  Any war between them would result in the loss of influence by Britain.  Furthermore, Britain believed that, while, as a result of the Constitutional Revolution, Persia was generally becoming unstable, the conditions in Khuzestan had been steadily improving.  The policy of Ḵazʿal had been to consolidate his power gradually over the detached and scattered Arab tribes within his borders or those who acknowledged him as their lord and chief.  “This policy,” the British consul wrote, “is one which it is for us to encourage as it is greatly to our advantage” (Administration Report, Muhammarah, 1913); hence there resulted the direct involvement of the British minister in Tehran, as well as local British consuls, in this matter.

However, the Baḵtiāri il-khani demanded large sums for the lands and threatened to use force.  Ḵazʿal, too, began making preparations for war (Administration Report, Muhammarah, 1912) and massed some 10,000-15,000 men in the region (Administration Report, Muhammarah, 1913).  However, thanks to the British efforts, a meeting was held in May 1913 at Band-e Qir between Naṣīr Khan Ṣārem-al-Molk, Sardār-e Jang, and Ḵazʿal, and the final agreement was signed.  The Baḵtiāris gained a total of 20,000 tomans over their initial investments, but the crucial and most astonishing outcome of the whole episode was that, at the finish “the Shaikh became the agent for the Bakhtiaris in all matters” in Khuzestan (Administration Report, Muhammarah, 1913).

Ḵazʿal and the estates of Neẓām-al-Salṭana. The fate of the family of Ḥosaynqoli Khan Neẓām-al-Saltana (ca. 1248-1326/1832-1908; see Churchill, p. 70) sheds some light on the expansion of Ḵazʿal’s influence in south Persia.  Before the Kārun opening in 1888 (see KĀRUN RIVER iii), Ḥosaynqoli Khan, who was of Kurdish (Māfi) stock (ibid.; see also NEẒĀM-AL-SALṬANA MĀFI), was appointed to Khuzestan (1887-89) and then promoted to the governorship of Fars (1893-94).  In March 1895, he was reappointed to Khuzestan, but under pressure from Britain, in the course of 1896, he was removed from that post (Lorimer, I/2, p. 1677).  His dismissal was connected with a case involving a British subject named Tanfield, who was an agent of Messrs. Lynch and in June 1896 was attacked in Shushtar by his Persian employee, called Ṣādeq (Lorimer, I/2, p.1738).  In order to make an example and show their power, British officials wanted to have Ṣādeq executed, although Tanfield had only lost a hand.  To avoid inciting the people of Shushtar, the British suggested that he be executed in Ahvaz.  Colonel Wilson even urged the dispatch of gunboats (Durand to Salisbury, 18 August 1896).  However, thanks to Neẓām-al-Salṭana’s resistance, Ṣādeq was not executed but sent to Tehran to be imprisoned there.  This made the British officials very angry, and they decided to make an example of Neẓām-al-Salṭana instead.  They strongly pressed for, and obtained from the government, an undertaking that Neẓām-al-Salṭana and his brother should not be employed anywhere in Persia for five years (Salisbury to Durand, 1 October 1898: FO 539/78).  Britain’s opposition to this family was so strong that even when, in 1898, Neẓām-al-Salṭana’s nephew received an appointment from the shah, under direct instructions from Britain’s foreign minister, Durand raised objections and caused it to be canceled (Salisbury to Durand, 10 October 1898; idem, 6 October 1898). 

It appears that Neẓām-al-Salṭana’s independence of the two major powers earned him the enmity of both Russia and Britain.  Nonetheless, despite all this opposition, Ḥosaynqoli Khan Neẓām-al-Salṭana never capitulated to either of them.  As governor-general, he had qualities which earned him the respect from friends and foe alike, and he was described by the British officials as an able and enlightened ruler.  Perhaps an indication of this enlightenment was the fact that, at that time, Neẓām-al-Salṭana sent his only son to study at Harrow (Churchill, p. 70).

Some of Neẓām-al-Salṭana’s qualities were also shared by his nephew and eventual heir, Reżāqoli Khan, then known as Sardār Mokarram.  Reżāqoli Khan was an able and just ruler, who, like his uncle, suppressed the unruly Aqāvāt at Dezful and Shushtar, as well as the rebellious tribal elements, in order to establish security.  The British, therefore, regarded it as “good policy” to support him (Political Report, Persian Gulf, 1905-6).  This tacit support was also due to the fact that, perhaps out of necessity, Sardār Mokarram, like his uncle Neẓām-al-Salṭana, was on good terms with Ḵazʿal (Political Report, Ahwaz 1905-6).  He even entrusted Ḵazʿal with the temporary government of northern Khuzestan when he himself left for Lorestan (Adminstration Report, Ahwaz, 1907).  Reżāqoli Khan, like his uncle, personally led expeditionary forces against the rebellious Arabs and Lors (e.g., see Political Report, Ahwaz 1905-6; 1906-7).  It was during these expeditions that he impressed the Arab chiefs who were under his command.  Later, when he faced serious difficulties with the Baḵtiāri khans who were prominent in the Persian cabinet in Tehran, these same Arab chiefs forced Ḵazʿal to assist him.  The Shaikh was informed “to his face” by the chiefs that it was “better far that they should have seen him dead” than that they should see him so dishonored as to lead Reżāqoli Khan to be trampled upon by his enemies (Consul, Muhammareh to Minister, Tehran, 19 November 1911, no.720:L/P&S/11/35).  This was one of the factors that induced Ḵazʿal to seek Britain’s support in this regard.  Another crucial factor was that most of Neẓām-al-Salṭana’s vast estates in Kuzestan were managed by Ḵazʿal.  Naturally, Ḵazʿal did not want to jeopardize this favorable position through either confiscation of Neẓām-al-Salṭana’s estates by the government or their sale to the Baḵtiāris.

In 1910, Reżāqoli Khan, who by now had acquired the title of Neẓām-al-Salṭana, was appointed governor-general of Fars.  Early in 1911, he passed through Moḥammara and met Ḵazʿal on his way to Shiraz.  The latter informed the British that Neẓām-al-Salṭana had left with the intention of keeping on friendly terms with them; but, in the opinion of British officials, he “did not maintain this commendable frame of mind” (Administration Report, Muhammarah, 1911).  There were certain developments in Fars, like the killing of Moḥammad-ʿAli Khan Naṣr-al-Dawla, the brother of a prominent pro-British notable, Ḥabib-Allāh Khan Qawām-al-Molk, which greatly angered the British officials and caused them to issue a warning that Neẓām-al-Salṭana should leave Shiraz immediately (Cox to Government of India, 31 March 1912).  On 5 October 1911, Neẓām-al-Salṭana left Shiraz for Khuzestan, to which he had been assigned as governor-general (Administration Report, Muhammarah 1911).  The prime minister, however, subsequently denied this appointment, and Neẓām-al-Salṭana had hardly left Shiraz when orders were issued for the sequestration of his possessions, and a reward was put on his head. It was generally believed that he would ultimately be caught or killed by his enemies, who were eager to secure his lands and the reward (Cox to Government of India, 31 March 1912).  Apart from the British pressure, these orders were no doubt due to the prominence of Baḵtiāri influence in Tehran, an influence which was in favor of Qawām and the British, and consequently against Neẓām-al-Salṭana. 

On 4 January 1912, Neẓām-al-Salṭana eventually succeeded in reaching Moḥammara safely, where he stayed with Ḵazʿal (Consul to Minister, 6 January 1912).  The Baḵtiāri khans were against Ḵazʿal, so if he had left Neẓām-al-Salṭana alone, he might have been obliged to make the best terms he could with the Baḵtiāris.  Any attempt by the Baḵtiāri  khans to confiscate or get hold of Neẓām-al-Salṭana’s lands would have been the thrusting of a wedge of the Baḵtiāris’ influence into Ḵazʿal’s territories, and the loss of a large portion of it, which Ḵazʿal had leased at an “almost nominal rental” from Neẓām-al-Salṭana (Cox to Government of India, 31 March 1912).

  Ḵazʿal accordingly approached the British consul at Moḥammara to assist Neẓām-al-Salṭana.  In return, he agreed to guarantee the future conduct of Neẓām-al-Salṭana and pledged that he “shall give all assistance possible” to the British (Consul to Minister, 9 November 1911).  Britain, no doubt seeing a golden opportunity, was ready to help, but it wanted to squeeze out as much concession from Neẓām-al-Salṭana as possible.  Ḵazʿal stressed that there was no greater favor that he could ask Britain than this, and that Britain “will have his lasting gratitude” (Consul to Minister, 19 November 1911).  Immediately upon his arrival in Moḥammara, Neẓām-al-Salṭana went to see the British consul and asked for his government’s good offices (Consul to Minister, 13 January 1912).  His case was accordingly taken up by the British minister in Tehran; and the Baḵtiāri cabinet ministers, who received a bribe of 10,000 tomans from Neẓām-al-Salṭana, allowed him to leave Persia safely (Administration Report, Muhammarah, 1912). Neẓām-al-Salṭana was informed that he was “at liberty to come to Tehran or go to Europe,” and he proposed “to proceed via Europe to Tehran.” The British minister was also informed that the sequestration of Neẓām-al-Salṭana’s properties had been removed (Minister to Resident, 4 March 1912).  In return, the British consul managed to obtain from Neẓām-al-Salṭana an undertaking that he would allow the projected Moḥammara–Ḵorramābād Railway to pass through his properties in Khuzestan (for the text, see Appendix III to Treaties and Undertakings; Cox to McMahon, 15 September 1912: L/P&S/11/35), and Fars (Administration Report, Muhammarah, 1912; and enclos. in Cox to McMahon, 15 September 1912).

In the meantime, it transpired that Neẓām-al-Salṭana was heavily in debt to “Banque d’Escompe.”  He, therefore, asked Britain to assist him to get a loan of 70,000 tomans (about 12,500 pounds) from the British “Imperial Bank of Persia” to free his properties in Khuzestan and elsewhere, mortgaged to the Russian Bank. The Moḥammara branch of the British Bank accordingly advanced this sum to Ḵazʿal, and the transaction was completed later (Cox to McMahone, 29 June 1913: L/P&S/11/35).  However, Neẓām-al-Salṭana could not remain in Europe for long, and for his safe return to Iran he again needed Britain’s support.  He was also incurring heavy expenditure in Europe with no income from his properties, or so claimed his agent, Ḵazʿal.  If he turned to Russia for assistance, his previous undertakings would be rendered “worthless” (Harworth to Minister, 28 June 1913), and Ḵazʿal too would be placed in an awkward position.  Neẓām-al-Salṭana needed a guarantee of safety for his life and property from the Persian government through the British legation, which would enable him to return safely to south Persia (Cox to McMahone, 29 June 1913).  Cox pointed out that, if Britain could keep Neẓām-al-Salṭana “in the pocket of the Shaikh … and keep them both under obligation in regard to the former, then Nezam would be a source of no anxiety to us” (Cox to Minister, 28 January 1913).  On these grounds he agreed that Britain should support Neẓām-al-Salṭana, provided that he “will undertake in writing, firstly, not to sell or mortgage his landed property to anyone but the Shaikh, without consulting the latter or ourselves, and second, not to shape his conduct in any way opposed to the interests of the Shaikh or ourselves, then you will endeavor to obtain the assurances of immunity which he desires.”  Being in such a desperate position, Neẓām-al-Salṭana accepted all these conditions (Cox to McMahone, 13 September 1913), but in his letter he gave undertakings for his sons as well, who at this time were mere schoolboys (Cox to McMahone, 29 September 1913).  A few days later, the Persian interior minister requested Neẓām-al-Salṭana’s brother, in the presence of Churchill, to telegraph to Neẓām-al-Salṭana that he could return to Persia in perfect safety. These guarantees were strengthened by the personal assurances of the British Minister in Tehran (Townley to Cox, 13 February 1914).

Thus Britain managed to gain control over most parts of Khuzestan, parts of Fars, and Lorestan.  Their protégé, Ḵazʿal, at the same time, gained full control of all southern Khuzestan plus those vast areas in the north which belonged to Neẓām-al-Salṭana.  Ḵazʿal had already asked Britain to give assurances of protection of his private properties in Iran (E. Grey [F.O] to Marling [Tehran], 6 July 1910).  He had received these guarantees, together with others, through the secret assurances of 1910 (Cox to Khazal, Muhammarah, 15 October 1910).

Given Ḵazʿal’s agreements with the Baḵtiāris and others, combined with Neẓām-al-Salṭana’s undertakings and Britain’s assurances, there seemed to be no obstacles to check the rapid expansion of the Shaikh’s political and economic power.  His penetration into the northern part of Khuzestan had started in 1907, when Neẓām-al-Salṭana, then known as Sardār Mokarram, had put him in charge of its administration (Administration Report, Ahwaz, 1907-8).  In the south he had established his power as early as 1904, when it was reported that “there are now few signs of Persian authority south of Band-e-Qir to the border of Fars.”  The governor of Khuzestan did not appear at Ahvāz, “nor is there a Kargozar (agent) there as was the case in 1897” (Burton, “Diary,” 28 February 1904).  Khuzestan’s next governor-general, Ḥāji Sayf-al-Dawla (Solṭān ʿAbd-al-Moḥammad), a grandfather of one of Ḵazʿal’s wives, reportedly spent all his time as the Shaikh’s guest at Moḥammara and showed “not the slightest sign of life, let alone activity” (Administration Report, Ahwaz, 31 December 1908).  Thus, by 1911, it was reported that the governorship of Khuzestan “does not confer any great powers, most of the country being under the rule of the Shaikh.”  Rāmhormoz, too, was administered by the Baḵtiāris.  So, only Dezful and Shushtar were left “to the nominal governor of the province” (Administration Report, Muhammareh, 1911).  Later, however, even these two towns became the battleground of Ḵazʿal and the Baḵtiāris.

To consolidate his power and influence, Ḵazʿal also entered into alliances against the Baḵtiāris with the governor (wāli) of Pošt-kuh and the il-khani of the Qašqāʾi tribes, Esmāʿil Khan Ṣawlat-al-Dawla.  However, it was mainly due to Britain’s wholehearted support that Ḵazʿal could amass so much power and wealth, and resist attempts on the part of the central government to establish its authority in the region.  In May 1914, the British acquired a predominant interest in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. In the previous December, Ḵazʿal had asked for further assurances from Britain against the Persian government and the Baḵtiāris (“Persian Gulf,” FO, June 1919, pp. 55-58).  Further guarantees, which extended Britain’s assurances to Ḵazʿal’s successors as well, were accordingly granted on 21 November 1914.  A fortnight later an agreement was signed between Ḵazʿal and APOC for the lease of land needed by the company (App. IV, dated 7 December 1914; Treaties and Undertakings, p 15), and another one was concluded in 1918, in which, in return for a lump sum of 5,000 pounds as rent, Ḵazʿal leased large plots of land in Khuzestan to the company until 1983 (App. VI, dated 3 September 1918; Treaties and Undertakings, p 15).  Thus, it was recognized that Britain’s “most valuable” interest in Persia lay “in, or adjacent to Khazal’s territory” (Administration Report, Persian Gulf, 1910; idem, 1909-13).  During World War I, attempts by the Ottomans to invade and occupy Khuzestan and its rich oilfields were defeated by the British, which had to keep some 15,000 troops in the province until the end of the war (see Ansari, pp. 300-320).  This was the position of Ḵazʿal and Khuzestan until the rise to power of Reżā Khan Sardār(-e) Sepah, the future Reżā Shah.

Reżā Khan’s rise and Ḵazʿal’s demise.  Reżā Khan came to power on 21 February 1921 through a coup, which was widely believed to have been engineered and assisted by the British.  His partner was a journalist called Sayyed Żiāʾ-al-Din Ṭabāṭabāʾi, who served as the prime minister for only 100 days following the coup.  Reżā Khan’s rise from then on was rapid.  In April 1921, he became the minister of war, and in October, the prime minister, while keeping the army under his command all along.  For the first few years, he allowed Aḥmad Shah, the last king of the Qajar dynasty, who spent most of his time in Paris, to remain on the throne.  Meanwhile, he toyed with the idea of turning Iran’s political system from a constitutional monarchy into a republic, which meant that Reżā Khan himself would be the first president of the new republic.  However, he eventually changed his mind, and on 12 December 1924, after plenty of political maneuvering, intimidation, and even use of force against his opponents in the Majles, he stage-managed the approval of the constituent assembly for the demise of the Qajars and the establishment of a new ruling dynasty (Pahlavi) under himself.  He crowned himself in a simple ceremony at Golestān Palace on 25 April 1926 (Ghani, pp. 351 ff.).

In the interim period between the coup and his coronation, as the minister of war and the army chief commander, Reżā Khan tried hard to establish order and security in the country by suppressing several serious rebellions against the central government in various parts of Iran, especially in the tribal areas.  At the time of his coup, Ḵazʿal was at the zenith of his power and was considered the ruler of an independent entity called Arabestan (Khuzestan).  Therefore, sensing that the next target for the new strongman of Iran would be Khuzestan and himself, Ḵazʿal began to make preparations to counter this inevitable eventuality.  Thus, in addition to establishing close ties with some members of the opposition in the Majles (especially Sayyed Ḥasan Modarres) who were wary of Reżā Khan’s future plans, he also forged an alliance with some powerful local chiefs (e.g., Amir Mojāhed Baḵtiāri of Lorestan and the governor of Pošt-kuh) and called it Komita-ye qiām-e saʿādat.  Ḵazʿal himself headed the Komita, and, by exerting his considerable political and financial influence, he even managed to elicit Aḥmad Shah’s blessing for its formation (Reżā Shah, p. 4).  Apparently, this was possible because the return of the shah from Paris was a declared goal of the Komita (Reżā Shah, pp. 6-7), along with the preservation of Islam and the constitution, which according to Ḵazʿal were ignored and trampled upon by Reżā Khan.  Reżā Khan knew perfectly well that Ḵazʿal and his secessionist tendencies were a major obstacle to his ambitious plan for creating a united country under a strong central government.  So he ordered his officials in Tehran to create a strong and credible case against Ḵazʿal with regard to past-due taxes and revenues, such as those of the Khuzestan Customs.  Although he had already managed to pacify Lorestan, which was the principal direct route to Khuzestan, as yet Reżā Khan did not want to undertake military action against Ḵazʿal for two major reasons.  First, his army was still not ready for such a grand operation; and second, he was unsure of the reactions of the British in such an eventuality.  In the spring of 1924, Sir Percy Lorraine, the British ambassador, left Tehran on a long leave to get married.  He knew that, given his character and the conditions in Iran, sooner rather than later Reżā Khan would start military operations to subjugate Ḵazʿal (Ghani, p. 357).  In a meeting held on 28 July 1924 at the Imperial Defense Committee, he gave his assessment of the political conditions in Iran and warned that before the year-end a clash would occur in the oil-producing regions of Iran.  The Committee accordingly decided to inform the viceroy to be prepared for the dispatch of troops to Khuzestan in case of necessity (Waterfield, p. 82, cited from Ghani, p. 336).

In the meantime, while waiting for the end of the intense summer heat of Khuzestan, Reżā Khan began to make his preparations for the eventual onslaught.  By this time he had acquired for his army some newly-made machine-guns and a dozen light reconnaissance airplanes from France, a few of which could carry bombs and ammunition (Reżā Shah, pp. 39-40, 253).  Enough dirt roads had also been constructed to allow the passage of military vehicles (Ghani, pp. 336-37). His plan was to encircle Khuzestan and finish off Khazal and his army in a short time.  First he sent the necessary hardware and men to strengthen the Southern Army, and then did the same for the Western Army.  However, the most important obstacle and danger to his plan stemmed from the position of the governor of Pošt-kuh, who had a sizeable number of well-equipped troops covering the rear of Ḵazʿal’s army.  Without suppressing or threatening the governor, the encirclement plan and its goals could not be achieved.  Therefore, to surprise the enemy, Reżā Khan decided to use the longest and most arduous route (that is, from Azarbaijan in the northwest to the beginning of Pošt-kuh in the southwest) in order to position his troops behind those of the governor.  He called it, perhaps justifiably, “the most important and the longest troop movement in the recent history of Iran” (Reżā Shah, pp. 10-11).  Two other columns were also dispatched to the front, one via Ḵorramābād to Dezful and the other from Isfahan via Baḵtiāri territory to Behbahān and Rāmhormoz.  He himself would travel by land to Bušehr and thence by sea to the battleground to command his army personally (Reżā Shah, p. 11).  Having completed these preparations, he informed the British chargé d’affaires, Edmond Ovey, that he had already taken his decision and a 15,000-strong army would soon leave for Khuzestan (Ghani, p. 341).

On 4 November 1924, Reżā Khan left Tehran for Isfahan and made the finance minister, Moḥammad-ʿAli Foruḡi, the acting premier (Ovey to Chamberlain, 17 November 1924: FO 416/75; Ghani, p. 341).  The British government felt obliged to forestall an imminent clash.  So they asked for help from Lorraine, who had just married and was still on leave.  Accordingly, he cut short his honeymoon and began his journey to Iran, accompanied by his bride.  First, he went to Paris to meet Aḥmad Shah, and then he boarded a ship for Egypt.  His plan was to arrange a meeting between Ḵazʿal and Reżā Khan in order to find a face-saving solution (Minutes by Oliphant, 11 October 1924: FO 371/10/36; Ovey to Lorraine, 8 November 1924: FO 1011/128).  Meanwhile, the papers in the Arab world (in Baghdad, Syria, and Egypt) started to published articles in support of Ḵazʿal; they saluted his independent emirate and greeted its secession from Iran to become part of the Arab emirates (Reżā Shah, p. 13).  Reżā Khan was under pressure from the Majles to take action against the Shaikh, who was secretly in touch with some prominent minority elements there (especially Modarres); these believed that a victory by Reżā Khan in Khuzestan would make him an unstoppable dictator, who would consequently erode their personal social and political power.  Ḵazʿal also had sent emissaries to the religious leaders in the Shiʿite holy cities (ʿAtabāt) in Iraq, soliciting their support in his struggle against Reżā Khan.  There were credible reports on huge arms shipments to Khuzestan and on Ḵazʿal’s well-equipped troops there (Reżā Shah, pp. 14, 17).

Despite several attempts by the British officials in Tehran and Isfahan to prevent him from moving farther than Isfahan, Reżā Khan advanced to Shiraz, where he was received by a large crowd and a number of religious figures (ʿolamāʾ).  Each time the British pushed for a plan to mediate in support of their protégé, Reżā Khan insisted that Ḵazʿal should send him a letter of apology and also disband his army, neither of which conditions was acceptable to the Shaikh.  However, when Reżā Khan reached Shiraz, Ḵazʿal realized the seriousness of the situation and sent him a telegram, expressing apology and remorse, and blaming “others” for his previous conduct.  He also proclaimed obedience to the central government and Reżā Khan himself (Reżā Shah, p. 44).  Reżā Khan, in return, sent him the following telegram: “Your apology and remorse accepted, on the condition of total surrender” (Reżā Shah, p. 42; and Kasravi, 1977, p. 242).  Again there were attempts by the British to arrange a tripartite meeting (among  Ḵazʿal, Reżā Khan, and Lorraine) in Bušehr.  At first Reżā Khan seems to have been inclined to accept this offer.  However, since Reuters announced it and the Majles reacted to the news very negatively, he decided against it, especially after the Soviet Legation in Tehran sent him a message, expressing concern over the rumored meeting (Reżā Shah, pp. 42-43; Ghani, pp. 343-44).  He then headed for Bušehr via Kāzerun, where he inspected his army and the maneuvers of some newly-acquired tanks and marveled at their abilities.

A day after arriving in Bušehr, the Oriental Secretary of the British embassy, Godfrey Howard, who had gone there on Lorraine’s order, together with the British general consul, met with Reżā Khan and asked for a meeting to be held between Lorraine and him before the latter returned to Tehran.  Reżā Khan replied that he was ready for such a meeting but not in Bušehr.  He preferred to meet Lorraine in Ahvāz, Moḥammara, or Zaydun, that is, at the war front (Reżā Shah, p. 53).  At this time he ordered the military planes to drop leaflets in the cities and population centers of Khuzestan, explaining to the people the reasons for the imminent onslaught of his army, declaring amnesty for those who surrendered, and warning them against assisting Ḵazʿal and his army in any way (Reżā Shah, pp. 60-62).  He then left Bušehr for the upper Persian Gulf and landed at Deylam, a port located a few miles from the front at Zaydun.  The British tried to force him to change his mind, and the legation in Tehran even gave the Iranian Foreign Ministry two harsh notes, which contained veiled threats and ultimatum.  However, Rezā Khan, who saw himself so close to a historic victory over a British protégé, which would probably erase the stigma of himself being a British protégé and stooge (due, for instance, to their support of his coup), ignored the notes and even scorned his foreign minister and the cabinet in Tehran for accepting them (Reżā Shah, pp. 79-82).

At this point, another telegram was received from Ḵazʿal, in which he again expressed remorse and total subservience to the Iranian government and asked for a chance to have an audience with Reżā Khan (Reżā Shah, pp. 85-86). Reżā Khan accepted his apologies and asked the Shaikh to meet him in Hendijān.  Then he went to the front at Zaydun, which his troops had just captured after a short battle (Reżā Shah, p. 89).  In Zaydun he received another telegram from Ḵazʿal, this time clearly mentioning that the content of his previous telegram should be construed as “total surrender.”  Reżā Khan asked him to come to the front and personally express his servitude and ask for a pardon (Reżā Shah, p. 90).  Ḵazʿal sent one of his sons (Amir Laškar) to accompany Reżā Khan to Ahvāz, where they were going to meet.  A few miles before reaching Ahvāz, the Soviet consul there came to warn Reżā Khan of the imminent dangers ahead of him in the city.  However, he ignored the warnings and reached the city’s outskirts on 5 December 1924, where a huge crowd awaited him (Kasravi, 1956, p. 226).  Ḵazʿal’s son, Sardār Ajal, was there but the Shaikh himself was not in the crowd.  Reżā Khan went straight to Ḵazʿal’s palace, which had been prepared to house him during his short stay, while Ḵazʿal himself was staying on his private ship on the Kārun (Reżā Shah, pp. 119-20).

Reżā Khan met Ḵazʿal on 6 December 1924 (9 Jomādā I 1343).  However, before the meeting, Ḵazʿal asked him to send one of his confidants to listen to his petition and convey it to Reżā Khan.  Reżā Khan sent his personal secretary, Dabir Aʿẓam Bahrāmi, to meet Ḵazʿal.  During the meeting Ḵazʿal suggested that, since Reżā Khan was going to be the next king and, as such, would be in need of an heir apparent, he would present to him one of his granddaughters in marriage (Reżā Shah, pp. 142-43).  Bahrāmi rejected this offer as “utterly ridiculous” (Reżā Khan’s son, Moḥammad-Reżā, was about five years old by then) and advised Ḵazʿal to send a telegram of obedience and surrender to the Majles (Reżā Shah, p. 143), which he duly did; this had the effect of a bombshell, especially among his colluders there.  Ḵazʿal then asked for an audience, which was granted for 6 December.  Upon entering the palace, Ḵazʿal fell to the ground, kissing Reżā Khan’s feet.  Reżā Khan describes him as a man of nearly 65 years of age, with a dark face, the eyes turned yellow with the glow of the eye of a viper depressed from cold. However, he also describes him as a very eloquent sycophant (čāplus), whose main point was that he was old and frail and had been deceived and instigated by “others,” and that from then on he would be a sincere servant of the Persian government.  Reżā Khan accepted his apologies and gave him assurances, while giving him the ominous warning that any future repetition of his misconduct would result in his execution (Reżā Shah, p. 147).  Then Reżā Khan had a meeting with Lorraine and Howard, who acted as the interpreter. When Lorraine asked about Ḵazʿal’s future, Reżā Khan replied that he had already pardoned him (Reżā Shah, p. 151; Lorraine to Chamberlain, 22 December 1924: FO 371/10843; Ghani, pp. 344-45).

Two weeks after this meeting, government troops were in full control of the whole province, and General Fażl-Allāh Zāhedi, who had led the government troops against Ḵazʿal forces and his allies, was appointed the military commander and governor of the province (Reżā Shah, p. 204; Kasravi, 1956, p. 227), which officially reverted to its original name, Khuzestan (Ghani, p. 344).  After touring the province, Reżā Khan made a pilgrimage to the Shiʿite shrines in Iraq.  He then returned to Moḥammara, where he had another meeting with Ḵazʿal (Waterfield, p. 92).  On 19 December 1924, Reżā Khan signed a document that pardoned the Shaikh and assured him that his private properties and lands would be respected and neither he nor his relatives would be harmed (Lorraine to FO, 12 March 1925: FO 371/10843).  Ḵazʿal in return promised to settle his past-due indebtedness to the government.

Reżā Khan relates that he was aware that, as long as Ḵazʿal remained in Khuzestan, the province would not be calm and secure, which meant keeping a sizeable army there.  He therefore judged it necessary to move him to the capital to be kept under surveillance, but knew that Ḵazʿal would not go to Tehran voluntarily (Reżā Shah, p. 248).  After Tehran was informed that Ḵazʿal was planning to leave Iran for Baṣra to reside there on his properties, Reżā Khan informed Lorraine in April 1925 that Ḵazʿal had not yet settled his past-due taxes and asked him to induce the Shaikh to come to Tehran to settle these matters (Lorraine to F.O., 7 April 1925: FO 371/10843).  The British tried to encourage him to go to Tehran and resolve the issue of his back taxes, but Ḵazʿal was naturally apprehensive and did not send any reply.  The Iranian officials knew that the Shaikh always spent the night on his private yacht, drinking and being entertained by Arab dancers until early hours of the morning.  So, at Reżā Khan’s secret instruction to Zāhedi, in the middle of the night on 18 April 1925, when everybody on the ship was drunk and being entertained by dancers and musicians, in a commando-style raid, army men boarded the ship and captured Ḵazʿal (Kasravi, 1977, p. 248; Ghani, p. 345) and one of his sons, ʿAbd-al-Ḥamid, and sent them to Tehran (Reżā Shah, p. 249; Moneypenny to Lorraine, 23 April 1925: FO 371/10834).

Ḵazʿal was never allowed to leave Tehran.  The British were not allowed to contact him, but he was occasionally received by Reżā Shah and treated cordially by him.  Two years later, when, during one of his visits at the court, he complained that he was gradually losing his eyesight and asked for permission to go to Europe for treatment, Reżā Shah ordered the court minister to arrange for one of the best European ophthamologists to come to Tehran (Behbudi, pp. 314-15; Ghani, p. 346).  Ḵazʿal never settled his old indebtedness to the government, since he had no control over his assets, and he spent the rest of his life in Tehran running from one ministry and department to another, to settle his old accounts and salvage what he could from his vast estates in Iran.  He died on 27 May 1936, and his body was taken to Najaf to be buried next to the holy Shiʿite shrine there.



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(Shahbaz Shahnavaz)

Originally Published: May 31, 2013

Last Updated: February 18, 2013

This article is available in print.
Vol. XVI, Fasc. 2, pp. 188-197