The Farrokh clan

The Farrokh clan hails originally from northern Iran with ties to the Caucasus. Kaveh Farrokh’s grandfather, Ambassador Mehdi Farrokh was to become an active member in the Iranian political arena from the early twentieth century to his passing in 1973. Mehdi Farrokh wrote his memories in a 2-volume book entitled “خاطرات سیاسی فرخKhaterat e Siyasiye Farrokh [The Political Memoirs of Farrokh]“. Mehdi Farrokh was among those officials and military leaders (see Taghi Khan Pesyan below) who deeply resented Anglo-Russian interference in Iran and the negative consequences this had on the civilian population.

The Dar ol Fonoon was originally built as a polytechnic to train Iranians in military sciences, medicine, geological sciences and engineering. The Dar ol Fonoon continued to develop and expand its academic programs – eventually becoming the University of Tehran.

Pesyan and Farrokh enjoyed a deep-standing friendship: both shared a deep loathing of self-serving and corrupt officials running the country at the time. Both men wished to have major reforms implemented throughout Iran. Pesyan soon had a major falling out with Prime Minister Ghavam ol-Saltaneh in 1921 leading to a major military showdown. Pesyan was killed in major clashes with troops that had been sent by Ghavam. Ghavam then issued an edict to have the late Pesyan’s ally, Mehdi Farrokh, arrested and killed, but all of these efforts failed. Ironically a few decades later, Mehdi Farrokh was to later come to the rescue of Ghavam in the Iranian Majlis (parliament).

After his mission with the German air force, Pesyan returned to Iran to fight against invading Anglo-Russian forces. The British had no love for Pesyan – they openly declared that Pesyan should be killed to undermine the military leadership of the Milliyun (Iranian nationalists). The Milliyun were fighting against British and Russian interests (consult Kaveh Farrokh, 2011, “Iran at War: 1500-1988″). Mehdi Farrokh has also noted of Pesyan’s deep sense of integrity, honesty and charisma in his memoirs.

As a young man, Mehdi Farrokh was also an avid follower of the Constitutionalist movement and fought in the ranks of Sattar Khan (Constitutionalist leader from Tabriz, historical Azerbaijan province in northwest Iran) against the despotic and anti-democratic rule of the Qajars who were by the early 20th century, strongly beholden to Anglo-Russian interests. In one of the battles against the Qajar-regime and their supporting Russian troops, Mehdi Farrokh was captured and imprisoned but was soon released along with other Constitutionalist prisoners who also had been in captivity.

While little known in mainstream and Western historiography, the British Empire played a fundamental role in supporting Tsarist Russia crush Western Asia’s first democracy movement. Ironically, the British had been supportive of this movement at first but were swayed towards accommodation with the Russians. The global implications of these (politically short-sighted?) decisions resonate well into the 21st century.

Mehdi Farrokh’s tenure in Afghanistan was at a time of great political turmoil in Afghanistan. Before his departure from Afghanistan in 1929, Farrokh had predicted that a coup would take place against King Amanollah Khan of Afghanistan (1892-1960; reign 1919-1929).

Many of the facts pertaining to those events were often glossed over by Iranian, Afghan and British officials for fear of exposing scandals with top officials. Mehdi Farrokh finally wrote a comprehensive textbook on the political history of Afghanistan which was approved for publication by Mehdi Azar, Iran’s Minister of Culture in 1952 (during Prime Minister Mossadegh’s time). As soon as the book went into circulation, it was met with bitter opposition. At issue was the exposure of certain Afghan officials who had been implicated in the 1929 coup d’etat led by Bacheh Sagha as well as the role of the British Empire at the time. The Afghan mission to Iran in 1952 applied much pressure to have Farrokh’s book removed from circulation. Mehdi Farrokh invited the Afghan ambassador to an open debate (to be transparent to the public) on the facts, an arrangement which Mehdi Azar agreed to. The date (unknown date in 1952) and place (Mehdi Azar’s residence or office) for this debate was arranged – Mehdi Farrokh showed up but the Afghan ambassador failed to show for the debate. Nevertheless, Mehdi Farrokh was overruled and all copies of his book were removed from circulation in 1952.

Mehdi Farrokh wrote a book on his mission to China entitled “سفر به کشور اسرارامیز چین [Safar be Keshvar e Asrar Amiz e Chin= Travel to the Wondrous/Mysterious Country of China]” in which he highly praised the people, culture, cuisine, civilization and work ethic of China. Mehdi Farrokh also noted the deep sense of integrity, intelligence, kindness, and spirit of generosity in the person of Chiang Kai Shek and all Chinese whom he had the opportunity to contact during his mission to China. This book along with scores of others from the late Mehdi Farrokh’s office, had been donated by Kaveh Farrokh to the “کتابخانه ملی ایران [Ketabkhaneye Melli Iran = National Library of Iran]” in Tehran in the summer of 2001 Farrokh was to publish his political memoirs “خاطرات سیاسی فرخ [Political memoirs of Farrokh], Tehran: انتشارات امیرکبیر [Amir Kabir Publications] in two volumes in 1968.

The Farrokh clan is related to the Jahanbani and Farzaneh clans who have produced numerous noteworthy individuals of note in the political, economic and military history of Iran. One of these was Lieutenant General Nader Jahanbani (1928-1979)-سپهبد نادر جهانبانی

The Iranian air force produced an excellent cadre of top-gun pilots – these were as adept in air to air combat as they were in ground attack missions. This was in large part due to the efforts of a large pool of highly capable officers and personnel, one of these having been Nader Jahanbani.

In one incident in June 1975, Iraqi tanks invaded Iran’s Khuzestan province in June 16, 1975. Iranian F-4E Phantoms wiped out an entire iraqi tank column in 20 minutes – none of the Iranian F-4Es were lost with the Iraqi invasion force thrown back for just 3 Iranian casualties (for more information see Iran at War: 1500-1988, 2011, pp. 316-317).

Iranian pilots repeatedly exhibited their deadly skills throughout the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988. It was during the liberation of Khuzestan province in March-May 1982 when up to 95 F-4 and F-5 fighter aircraft virtually annihilated the Iraqi 12th armored division in a single operation (for more information see Iran at War: 1500-1988, 2011, pp. 363-364). Such feats set Iranian pilots on par with the world’s best.

The legacy of the Golden Crown acrobatic team and their team leader Nader Jahanbani did much to defend Iran against Saddam Hussein’s attempts towards annexing Iran’s Khuzestan province in 1980-1988.

One of the significant legislative bills that Mehdi Farrokh worked to pass as senator before his passing in 1973, was a regularized pension plan guaranting retirement plans for persons who had worked in the private, educational, military and government services.

The Pirbastami and Behzadi clans

Kaveh Farrokh’s mother, Mahvash, hails from the Pirbastami (paternal) and Behzadi (maternal) clans of northern Iran, regions with historical and cultural links with the Caucasus and Georgia (see study by Nasidze, I., Quinque, D., Rahmani, M., Alemohamad, S.Y., Stoneking, M. (2006). Concomitant Replacement of Language and mtDNA in South Caspian Populations. Current Biology, 16, 668–673).

The Pirbastami and Behzadi clans have long-standing military backgrounds, having contributed generations of professional military men for the armies of Iran. The Pirbastami clan for example has ancestry traceable to the Moayyeri clan whose ancestor served as an administrator with the armies of Nader Shah Afshar (r. 1736-1747).

Haji Khan died just a year later when fighting as a colonel with the Iranian army against Bolshevik/Communist and Russian troops attempting to overrun northern Iran after World War One. The Bolsheviks attempt (and failed) to detach northern Iran’s Gilan province as a puppet “socialist republic” on behalf of the emerging Soviet Union, much as they attempted again during and after World War Two with Iran’s Azerbaijan province in the northwest.

Thanks to information provided to by the distinguished Arian Zarrinkafsh (Bahman-Qajar), the following information has also been unveiled regarding the Pirbastami clan and its links to the Afshartoos and Zarrinkafsh clans.

Pari Soltan Khanom Pir-Bastami was the daughter of Mohammad Hossein Khan (Pir-)Bastami “Mir Panj”, a military commander (Farmandeh) in northern Iran and the Caucasus, who was around 1853-1857 in charge for the security of Iran’s borders near Yerevan on behalf of Nasser od-Din Shah Qajar. He married the shah’s half sister Princess Effat od-Dowleh Khanom and they had two daughters, Pari Soltan and a sister, who was born in Georgia and married Agha Mirza Sana’ ol-Molk. In 1867 Pari Soltan married Agha Mirza Zaman Kordestani Khan-e Zarrinnaal “Lashkar-nevis”, the muster-master of Kurdestan and both had three children, Agha Mirza Ali Akbar Khan Zarrinnaal “Lashkar-nevis II” “Nasr-e Lashkar” – the father of the Zarrinnaal family, Mirza Ali Asghar Khan Zarrinkafsh – the father of the Zarrinkafsh family and Banou Fatemeh Soltan Khanom Afshartous – the mother of the Afshartous family.

The Diba-Tabatabai clan

The Diba family is one of the most long-standing families of Iran’s Azarbaijan province with a long history of public service. The Dibas are also closely related to the long-standing Zolfaqari clan.

Nasrollah (Haj Nasser Saltaneh) Tabatabai-Diba was among the first citizens to import automobiles into Iran in the early 20th century. At the time, the expression for such self-propelled vehicles as “Masheen Doodi” (smoke vehicle/car).

Kaveh Farrokh’s grandfather, Senator Mehdi Farrokh (top row at right) during his tenure in Rezaieh (modern Urumieh) in Azarbaijan province in the 1930s. His wife, Ezzat Saltaneh Tabatabai-Diba (left) is of the long-standing Diba family of northwest Iran. Ezzat Saltaneh was the daughter of Nasrollah (Haj Nasser Saltaneh) Tabatabai-Diba (see previous photo). Mehdi and Ezzat’s daughters in the middle row are Victoria (left) and Parvin-dokht (right) and at the front row stands their son Fereydoun Farrokh.

Mehdi Farrokh strongly opposed the Soviet Union’s attempt to forcibly absorb Iran’s Azarbaijan province in 1941-1946. He also opposed the Russo-British occupation of Iran during the Second World War, especially due to the severe hardship and famine this imposed on Iran’s civilian population. Note that Iran’s civilian population suffered terribly during and after the First World War as a result of Russian, British and Ottoman military activities and political interference.

Ambassador Fereydoun Farrokh

Kaveh spent much time in Germany due to his father, Fereydoun, having been assigned by the Iranian government to diplomatic posts to both West and East Germany.

With the retirement of Ali-Gholi Ardalan as ambassador to West Germany shortly after 1965, Fereydoun Farrokh became de facto Ambassador, or more specifically, premier councillor.

Fereydoun Farrokh’s most important post was that of Iranian ambassador to East Germany in 1973-1977.

Germany had been divided in two as a consequence of the defeat of the Nazis in 1945. The country (and its capital Berlin) became partitioned into Western and Eastern zones by the Western allies and the former Soviet Union respectively. The Berlin Wall finally came down in late 1989 which quickly led to the re-unification of Germany.

Henry H. Farrokh (1970 – 2015)

Kaveh Farrokh’s brother, the late Henry H. Farrokh (1970-2015) passed away on January 31, 2015. A prodigy since early childhood, Henry’s legacy of excellence in French Literature and Language is being honored on an annual basis with a Memorial Book Prize in his name for graduates of the French Department of Simon Fraser’s French Department, where Henry (known to students and faculty by the French pronunciation “Henri”) acted as instructor as he pursued his Graduate program at the university. Below is a photograph of the Henry H. Farrokh Memorial Book Prize awarded to Simon Fraser’s exceptional students of French Literature (awarded to Julia Galmiche in 2016). The book prize for 2016 featured the French literature doyen essayist, novelist and critic Marcel Proust (1871-1922), whose works were among the late Henry’s favorite teaching subjects at Simon Fraser University.

The Farrokh family dedicated the late Henry’s massive collection of books in French literature to Simon Fraser University’s French Department on October 8, 2016. These books are to be housed in a dedicated section named after Henry Farrokh within Simon Fraser University’s French Department library.