||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (August 2008)|
|68th Prime Minister of Iran|
19 July 1962 – 7 March 1964
|Preceded by||Ali Amini|
|Succeeded by||Hassan-Ali Mansur|
|Minister of Royal Court|
1 February 1967 – 7 August 1977
|Prime Minister||Amir-Abbas Hoveida|
|Preceded by||Hossein Ghods-Nakhai|
|Succeeded by||Amir-Abbas Hoveida|
|President of Pahlavi University|
1 July 1950 – 9 February 1962
|Preceded by||Ali Shirazi|
|Succeeded by||Habib Maraghee|
|Born||1 April 1919
|Died||14 April 1978
|Political party||People's Party|
Amir Asadollah Alam (1 April 1919 – 14 April 1978) was an Iranian politician who was Prime Minister from 1962 to 1964. He was also Minister of Royal Court, President of Pahlavi University and Governor of Sistan and Baluchestan Provinces.
Alam was born in 1919 in Birjand and was educated at a British school in Iran. By a royal order from Reza Shah, Alam married Malektaj, the daughter of Qavam Al-Molk Shirazi. The son of Qavam ol-molk was then married to a sister of the Shah, Ashraf Pahlavi. Shortly after disposing of the Qajar dynasty, Reza Shah intended to unite Iran's non-Qajar nobility through inter-marriage.
At the age of 26, he was appointed governor of Sistan and Baluchistan provinces. At the age of 29, he became Minister of Agriculture in the cabinet of Mohammad Sa'ed. He early displayed what an American acquaintance describes as a combination of native toughness and Y.M.C.A. dedication.
Assadollah Alam became the main landowner of Birjand after his father's death. He was one of Iran's first big landowners to distribute his holdings to the peasants, insisting that his servants eat the same food as his family. Once, when a would-be assassin was nabbed outside his door, Alam gave the man $40, then had him thrashed and sent into the street without his pants. Amir Asadollah Alam was the longest serving minister of the Pahlavi era. The title Amir is Arabic and means ruler resp. governor. The name Alam means a banner or a flag in Arabic. Alam's father Amir Ebrahim Alam (AKA Shokat ol-molk) was the governor of the region of Qa'enaat. In the era of Reza Shah Pahlavi he was the minister of telecommunications.
In 1953, Alam helped organize the counterrevolution that overthrew Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh. Alam was the director of the Pahlavi Foundation, a charitable trust worth at least $133 million, set up by the Shah to finance social-welfare plans out of the profits from royal holdings in banks, industries, hotels. In 1962, he became Prime Minister at the age of 43.
As prime minister, Assadollah Alam pledged to undertake "an anticorruption campaign with great diligence and all severity." Though the cynical snickered, Alam got free rein from the Shah, and carefully began building airtight cases against suspected grafters among Iran's leading bureaucrats and government leaders. His first major target was General Mohammed Ali Khazai, the Iranian army's chief of ordnance, who had parlayed his $6,000 salary into three houses in the suburbs of Tehran, four apartment houses in France, five automobiles, $100,000 in European banks and $200,000 in cash. A military court convicted Khazai of taking a cut out of government contracts and sentenced him to five years of solitary confinement.
In May 1963, Alam's anticorruption drive was in full swing. In Tehran, a military tribunal sentenced General Abdullah Hedayat, Iran's first four-star general and once a close adviser of the Shah, to two years in prison for embezzling money on military housing contracts, brushed aside his plea for appeal with the brusque explanation that "more charges are pending." The former boss of the Tehran Electricity Board was in solitary confinement for five years; cases were in preparation against an ex-War Minister and twelve other generals for graft.
Riots of 1963
The most important event in Alam's premiership were the riots that took place in June 1963 in response to some of the reforms enforced by the Shah and Alam. It was the clerics who triggered the riots during the Muharram holy days. As the faithful jammed the mosques, the clerics assailed "illegal" Cabinet decisions and urged their followers to "protect your religion." Small-scale riots quickly broke out in the clerical capital of Qum, led by the Rouhollah Khomeini, and in several other cities. Police struck back, arrested Khomeini and some 15 other ringleaders. With that, both sides declared open war and the battle was on.
Screaming "Down with the Shah," 10,000 people, swept through the capital, carrying pictures of Khomeini. Though the whereabouts of the Shah was kept secret, rows of white-helmeted troops, backed by tanks, immediately sealed off access to royal palaces in the city and suburbs. In the heart of town green, they fired for 40 minutes. When the mobs entered government buildings, the troops opened up at point-blank range. The crowd fell back in confusion, regrouped, and raced down main avenues.
Nearly 7,000 troops were called out by Alam's government to restore peace, albeit an uneasy one, in Tehran; by then damage was estimated in the millions, at least 1,000 were injured, and the officially reported death toll was 86. It was undoubtedly higher, but since the public cemetery was closed and under heavy guard to prevent further clashes at the gravesides, the real number remained unknown. In his memoirs, Alam notes the number of the dead to be about 200, saying that he immediately arranged for their families to receive a pension from the government. For the first time in a decade, martial law was imposed on the city, along with a dusk-to-dawn curfew. Hoping to preserve quiet for a while, Alam also announced that troops would remain on emergency duty. Their orders: shoot to kill.
Minister of the royal court
In 1964, he was appointed as Chancellor of Shiraz University and served host to the King of Belgium in his visit to Fars Province a few years later. Afterwards he was the minister of court for many years, beginning in December 1966. Furthermore he was the head of the Pahlavi Foundation and bursar. He was also a supporter of the campaign of Richard Nixon, during the United States presidential elections.
As the minister of the royal court he was the closest man to the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who now ran the country autocratically. Therefore Alam became the channel through which most of the daily affairs of the country passed. Alam's memoirs, published posthoumously, are exceptionally detailed documents on the life and the deeds of the Shah as perceived by an insider.
List of positions held
As written by Alam himself in his memoirs in 1972.
1. Manager of Imam Reza's shrine in Mashad, AKA "Aastaan-e Qods-e Razavi"
2. The Shah's inspector of all universities
3. Chairman of the board of trustees of the Pahlavi University
4. Chairman of the board of trustees of the Aryamehr University
5. Chairman of the board of trustees of the Pars school for higher education (Madreseye Aalyi-e Pars)
6. The shah's special liaison with foreign ambassadors (for issues too confidential to pass through the foreign ministry)
7. Head of the board of trustees of the Mashad University
8. Indispensable member of the board of trustees of the University of Tehran
9. Indispensable member of the board of trustees of the University of Tabriz
12. Chairman of the National Scouts committee
13. Head of "Kaanun-e Kaar" (Labor institute)
16. Chairman of the Council for support of mothers and infants
17. Deputy chairman of the Kaanun-e Parvaresh-e Fekri-e Kudakaan va nojavaanaan (Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults). Empress Farah Pahlavi was the head)
18. Direct chief of the Legion of service to humanity
19. Person in charge of the construction in the island of Kish
20. Head of the board of trustees of the Pahlavi Foundation
21. Deputy chairman of the Iranian Culture Foundation (for research and publication of classic Persian texts)
22. In charge of the shah's personal and monetary affairs.
23. The minister of court.
24. cooperation in establishing university of birjand
Illness, death and legacy
Asadollah Alam was diagnosed with cancer in late 1960s. He was never told of the nature of his illness and was only informed about an 'imbalance' of blood cells in his body. In 1977, his illness worsened and he had to resign his post as the minister of court. He died in 1978, a few months before the revolution in Iran.
Alam, the Shah's best friend, wrote about every detail of his life for the last ten years of his reign. These memoirs were posthumously published several years after Alam's death. Because of the level of its detail, this book is probably the greatest source of information about the life and deeds of the Shah. Alam admired the Shah greatly and his writing is therefore not impartial, but at least he expresses the Shah's perception of the national and international politics accurately. This results in the closest possible look at the way the Shah thought and how he made his decisions.
The book is edited by Alam's friend Alikhani, who was also a minister in Alam's cabinet. Judging by the few hand-written diary pages reproduced in the book, the editor seems to have cut out numerous sentences anywhere he pleased with no apparent reason. In some cases he explains the reasons as privacy concern for the Alam family or the safety of some people who may still be living in Iran. However, such explanations are very rare and the book is filled by ellipses, not drawn from Alam's notes.
The book has another deficiency: Alam had originally enclosed drafts of the letters by the Shah to foreign heads of state and letters to the Shah from international dignitaries with his diary notes. Very few of these have been published in the diaries and the reader is therefore denied access to this great source of information.
Amir Hossein Khozeimé-Alam was a cousin of his.
- – The Reformer's Lot, Time (magazine), Friday, 27 July 1962
- – No Longer for the Corrupt, Time (magazine), 24 May 1963
- – Progress at a Price, Time (magazine), Friday, 14 June 1963
- [– Yaddasht-haye Amir Assadollah-e Alam], Tehran, 2003
- [– Yaddasht-haye Amir Assadollah-e Alam],, edited by Alinaqi Alikhani, Vol. 2, P. 398 ISBN 964-5643-39-2,Tehran, 2003
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Asadollah Alam.|
- A Russian dinner (Author Farhad Sepahbody was Iran's last ambassador to Morocco under the Pahlavi Dynasty.)
- Harvard's Iranian Oral History Project: Fatemeh Pakravan
- Alam's bio on BBC Persian
|Prime Minister of Iran
1962 – 1964
Hassan Ali Mansour
|Minister of Royal Court
1967 – 1977
|Party political offices|
|Leader of People's Party
|President of Pahlavi University