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Ahwaz… Between the treachery of Britain and the betrayal of Reza Pahlavi


Sheikh Khaz’al al-Kaabi, the last sovereign of Ahwaz, had secured formal commitments of independence from the British prior to World War I. These promises were contained in a letter sent by the British ambassador to Tehran, Arthur Hadenk, on December 7, 1902.

The letter stated: “We defend the principality of Mohammerah from any maritime attack conducted by a foreign nation, regardless of the pretext of this intervention.” The ambassador also emphasized the assurance of the continuation of power within the lineage of Sheikh Khaz’al and his authority over Arabestan – Ahwaz, pledging not to disrupt the region, by any means necessary.

However, Britain, aiming to overthrow the Qajar dynasty in Persia, abandoned its ally, Sheikh Khaz’al al-Kaabi, leader of Mohammerah. They directed their protegé, the Prime Minister and Iranian Minister of Defense, Reza Khan Pahlavi (who would later become the king of Iran), to invade Mohammerah, conquer it, and end the reign of Prince Khaz’al in November 1923. This paved the way for complete control over the Arab principality, culminating on the night of April 19 to 20, 1925, with the capture of Prince Khaz’al, marking the end of Mohammerah’s independence as it was incorporated into Iran.

Sheikh Khaz’al was arrested along with his cousin, Sheikh Musa, who was then the governor of Abadan, and his son, Sheikh Abdul Hamid. Sheikh Musa managed to escape by diving off the boat. The others were detained in 1925. Sheikh Khaz’al was killed in 1937 in his palace in Tehran, where he was held captive. He was buried there. Iran initially refused to hand over his body. He remained buried in Tehran for a decade. In 1947, the remains of Prince Khaz’al were transferred to Iraq and buried in Najaf.

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