The Late Ebrahim Yazdi

Trevor Mostyn’s obituary of  Iran’s former Foreign Minister, Ebrahim Yazdi:

Ebrahim Yazdi, who has died aged 86, was a longstanding member, and from 1995 leader, of the Iranian opposition party the Freedom Movement of Iran (FMI). The FMI was founded in 1961 by Mehdi Bazargan, the champion of Islamic modernism in Iran, who became Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s first prime minister after the Islamic revolution of 1979 that overthrew Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Yazdi influenced the early policies of the Islamic revolution but, as a moderating force within it, lost ground to the hardliners who increasingly won Khomeini’s support. The FMI was soon suppressed by the new regime, but the party continued to be tolerated and has not been banned even to this day . . .

In 1967 Yazdi took up a research post at Baylor medical college in Houston, Texas. In 1972 Khomeini named him his personal representative and intermediary with US officials. Six years later, when Khomeini decided to leave Iraq, Yazdi was there as the Ayatollah tried to enter Kuwait and was refused entry. The cleric eventually arrived in France, where Yazdi had set up a headquarters for him at Neauphle-le-Château, outside Paris.

In February 1979 Yazdi returned to Iran as the head of Khomeini’s entourage and was named the deputy prime minister for revolutionary affairs in Bazargan’s interim government. But liberals were gradually sidelined by the clergy, who moved in to occupy key positions in the newly created revolutionary institutions. When the Revolutionary Guard was formed in 1979 to impose some discipline on armed groups and as a clerical counterweight to the army, Yazdi vied for influence with them. However, by 1981, during the clampdown on moderates and the arrest – and later, execution – of the moderate Ghotbzadeh, Yazdi was criticising the now ruling Islamic Republic Party for its “Stalinist and unIslamic methods”.

After the Iraqi invasion of Iran in 1980, Yazdi fully supported the Iranian war effort, but he opposed its continuation after the Iranian victory in Khorramshahr in 1982. Over the next six years, Yazdi and others in the FMI issued open letters to Khomeini urging an end to the war. This led to the firebombing of Yazdi’s residence in Tehran . . . ‘ click here.