The post-Mosaddeq era and the Shah's White Revolution
Shah distibuting land deeds
The Iranian government restored diplomatic relations with Britain in December 1953, and a new oil agreement was concluded in the following year. The Shah, fearing both Soviet influence and internal opposition, sought to bolster his regime by edging closer to Britain and the United States. In the Cold War atmosphere, relations with the Soviet Union were correct but not cordial. Internally, a period of political repression followed the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddeq, as the shah concentrated power in his own hands. He banned or suppressed the Tudeh, the National Front, and other parties, muzzled the press, and strengthened the secret police, SAVAK. The Shah appointed Hossein Ala to replace Zahedi as prime minister in April 1955 and thereafter named a succession of prime ministers who were willing to do his bidding.
When martial law, which had been instituted in August 1953 after the coup, ended in 1957, the Shah ordered two of his senior officials to form a majority party and a loyal opposition as the basis for a two-party system. These became known as the Melliyun and the Mardom parties. These officially sanctioned parties did not satisfy demands for wider political representation, however. During Majles elections in 1960, contested primarily by the Melliyun and the Mardom parties, charges of widespread fraud could not be suppressed, and the Shah was forced to cancel the elections. Jafar Sharif-Emami, a staunch loyalist, became prime minister. After renewed and more strictly controlled elections, the Majlis convened in February 1961. But as economic conditions worsened and political unrest grew, the Sharif-Emami government fell in May 1961.
The Shah named Ali Amini, a wealthy landlord and senior civil servant, as prime minister. Amini was known as an advocate of reform. He received a mandate from the Shah to dissolve parliament and rule for six months by cabinet decree. Amini loosened controls on the press, permitted the National Front and other political parties to resume activity, and ordered the arrest of a number of former senior officials on charges of corruption.
The Amini government, however, was beset by numerous problems. In addition, the prime minister acted in an independent manner, and the Shah and senior military and civilian officials close to the court resented this challenge to royal authority. Amini was unable to meet a large budget deficit; the Shah refused to cut the military budget, and the United States, which had previously supported Amini, refused further aid. As a result, Amini resigned in July 1962.
He was replaced by Asadollah Alam, one of Shah's close confidants. Building on the credit earned in the countryside and in urban areas by the land distribution program, the Shah in January 1963 submitted six measures to a national referendum. In addition to land reform, these measures included profit-sharing for industrial workers in private sector enterprises, nationalization of forests and pastureland, sale of government factories to finance land reform, amendment of the electoral law to give more representation on supervisory councils to workers and farmers, and establishment of a Literacy Corps to allow young men to satisfy their military service requirement by working as village literacy teachers. The Shah described the package as his White Revolution, and when the referendum votes were counted, the government announced a 99% majority in favour of the program. In addition to these other reforms, the Shah announced in February that he was extending the right to vote to women.