Friends and Foes

Friends and Foes

The Natives

Technically, “Persian” is only the dominant ethnic group of the country, which has officially gone by the name “Iran” (meaning “home of the Aryans”) since 1934. Among its 17 million people, Iran also counts Kurds, Arabs, Azeris (many fewer after Stalin annexed most of them), Baluchis, Turkomens, Chaldeans, and Qashqai, a Turkic southern tribe in occasional rebellion against the Shah’s government. However, it’s still “Persia” on the Foreign Office maps and in Foreign Office discussions, and to the F.O., what the wogs think doesn’t matter.

The wogs think the British are conniving, oil-stealing, imperialist rat-bastards.

The Shah Screen_Shot_2014-02-27_at_12.04.56_AM.png

His Imperial Majesty, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi is the 29-year-old supreme ruler of Persia. Pressured not only by the Soviets and British, but by the rural landholding aristocracy, the ulema, and the rising middle class, the Shah charts a careful course. He wishes to follow his father Reza Shah’s example and make Persia a modern, independent country. He does not, however, wish to follow his father Reza Shah’s example and get overthrown by the British and Soviets–the two Allies invaded Persia in 1941 to secure Stalin’s southern flank against Nazi subversion, and to secure Britain’s oil supply.

Shahrbani

The Shahrbani are the Shah’s internal secret police, back under the command of the feared Rokneddin_Mokhtari.jpgand hated Rokneddin Mokhtari. (Mokhtari, intriguingly enough, is also a concert-quality violinist.) The Shah removed Mokhtari from command in 1942 as a sop to the Allies and as a way to gain popularity with the citizenry of Tehran. After the Soviets annexed Azerbaijan, the Shah brought Mokhtari back to root out Communist subversion across the country.

Gendarmerie

The Gendarmerie are Persia’s national non-secret police, essentially Persia’s version of the Screen_Shot_2014-02-27_at_12.14.01_AM.pngTexas Rangers or the Mounties. They alternate between settling tribal disputes, tracking down criminals, and general do-gooding wherever the budget will allow. Colonel Schwarzkopf has slowly turned his men into honest, effective law officers with a relatively high degree of professionalism and literacy, and a relatively low degree of opium addiction and brutality. He stiffened his Gendarmerie with a cadre of some of the 10,000 American soldiers left in Persia after the Serpentfall, and equipped them with some of the leftover arsenals of American Lend-Lease likewise.

The Tudeh Party

Founded in 1941 by a group of Persian intellectuals, the Tudeh (“Masses”) Party rapidly moved left until it became in essence a Communist dominated party in 1944. Its greatest asset, besides the ability to turn out lots of thugs–er, radicalized workers–at rallies, is its TPMO (Tudeh Party Military Organization), a secret society that has penetrated the entire Persian military. While some factions of Tudeh are not completely Soviet-dominated, all the decision making, and much of the funding, for Tudeh comes straight from Moscow.

Friends and Foes

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