Ardeshir Zahedi and the Zahedi Archives at Hoover

Noelle E. Cockett
Henry Kissinger
Michael McFaul
Hamid Moghadam
Condoleezza Rice
Eric Wakin
Roham Alvandi
Arash Azizi
Robert Steele
Maaike Warnaar
Fri December 10th 2021, 10:00am - 1:00pm
Event Sponsor
Hoover Institution Library & Archives
Zoom webinar
Ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi

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"It is with sadness that we share with you the news of Ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi’s passing. We were working with Hoover Archives as they were planning a conference on December tenth to celebrate his diplomatic career and the remarkable papers he donated to Hoover. That conference will be held now as much in his memory as in celebration of the papers."
-Abbas Milani

The Hoover Institution Library & Archives hosts "Ardeshir Zahedi and the Zahedi Archives at Hoover" on Friday, December 10, 2021 at 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM PT.

Ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi is considered one of the most remarkable and controversial figures in modern Iranian politics. He was the last Iranian ambassador to the U.S. under the Shah who also came to personally know nine American presidents—Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Bush senior, and Reagan. In 2018, the archive of Ardeshir Zahedi opened to the public for research. A selection of key documents from the collection was published in A Window into Modern Iran: The Ardeshir Zahedi Papers at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives (Hoover Press, 2019).

In light of recent events, this online symposium will be held in memory of Ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi, who passed away on Thursday, November 18, 2021, in Switzerland.

Please join Hoover fellows Henry Kissinger, Abbas Milani and Michael McFaul; Hoover director Condoleezza Rice; Eric Wakin, director of The Hoover Institution Library & Archives; and other speakers and panelists to talk about the singular collection of Zahedi's papers and discuss Ambassador Zahedi's life and work.


  • Noelle E. Cockett, President, Utah State University*
  • Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State; distinguished visiting fellow, Hoover Institution*
  • Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to the Russian Federation; Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
  • Abbas Milani, research fellow, Hoover Institution
  • Hamid Moghadam, Chairman and CEO, Prologis
  • Condoleezza Rice, Tad and Dianne Taube Director, Hoover Institution*
  • Eric Wakin, deputy director, Hoover Institution; director, Library & Archives



Ardeshir Zahedi and the Bahrain Question
Roham Alvandi, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) (Chair of Panel)

This paper examines the role of Ardeshir Zahedi, foreign minister of Iran from 1966-1971, in the Anglo-Iranian negotiations over Bahrain’s independence between January 1968 and March 1970, following Britain’s announcement of its withdrawal from the Persian Gulf. Despite a clear strategic imperative for abandoning Iran’s claim to Bahrain in the wake of the British withdrawal, the Shah of Iran feared that such an act would be seen by the Iranian public as collusion with the British to surrender Iranian territory, thereby further eroding the Pahlavi monarchy’s precarious legitimacy. Foreign Minister Zahedi opposed the decision, leading to clashes with the British Ambassador in Tehran, Sir Denis Wright. Drawing on British official papers and Iranian oral histories and memoirs, this paper explores Zahedi’s role in the Shah’s decision to abandon Iran’s claim to Bahrain.

Pahlavi Iran and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (1967-1979)
Arash Azizi, NYU

Alongside with Turkey, Pahlavi Iran was a rare case of a Muslim-majority state to have consistent relations with the Israel. Much of existing literature often discusses this as an aspect of Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s Policy of Periphery. But Shah’s relations with Israel were part of the careful balancing act of Iranian foreign policy aimed at staking out a unique place in the global Cold War. Following the 1967 war, the Shah publicly criticized Israel and demanded its withdrawal from the occupied territories while they also maintained clandestine ties to the PLO. Iran also restored its ties to the leading Arab League nation of Egypt in 1970. As Iran’s foreign minister from 1966 to 1971 and then country’s ambassador to the United States from 1973 to 1979, Ardeshir Zahedi had an important role in delineating Iran’s delicate position in the post-1967 years. Basing itself on a study of Zahedi’s papers, which include account of Iran’s diplomatic meetings with countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, this study attempts to flesh out the formation and execution of Iranian policy on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the 1967-79 period. 

“Creating influence and dialogue with the African continent”: The Shah’s State Visit to Ethiopia in 1968 and the Position of Africa in Late Pahlavi Foreign Policy
Robert Steele, London School of Economics and Political Science

In the first half of the twentieth century, Iran had few political or economic interests in Africa<, beyond the Arab north. The majority of the continent was still under colonial rule, and Iran’s security concerns were primarily local. With the decolonization of Africa, which began in earnest in the late 1950s, Iran began to view the continent as a key area in which to expand its influence. In 1968, the Shah paid a state visit to Ethiopia, which marked the beginning of a concerted effort to build close relations with many Sub-Saharan African states. Addis Ababa was, during this period, the de facto political capital of the African continent, so, as Ardeshir Zahedi recalled in his memoir, pursuing relations with Ethiopia was “a way of creating influence and dialogue with the African continent.” This paper examines this state visit and its significance in the context of the Shah’s diplomatic push into Africa in the final decade of his rule. It utilizes a range of primary source materials, including Ardeshir Zahedi’s recollections and notes of the visit, documents from the Iranian Foreign Ministry archives, British and Dutch diplomatic reports, and Iranian newspapers.

"Not another boycott!" Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s handling of the Dutch government in the mid- and late 1970s
Maaike Warnaar, University lecturer, Leiden University

In March 1974 nine members of the Iranian student organisation CISNU occupied the Iranian embassy in The Hague (The Netherlands) to raise international awareness about the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran. They were arrested and went to trial, where the Dutch judge let the occupiers off with a mild sentence. This infuriated the Iranian authorities, who responded by recalling their ambassador and initiating an unofficial economic boycott against The Netherlands. The Dutch government was in dire straits and unsure what to do about Iran's harsh response. Apologies were made, but had no effect. Only after the Dutch, so the archives suggest, made an unorthodox move, the Iranian authorities ended their boycott. After the Dutch Foreign Minister visited Iran in July 1974, relations between the two countries went back to normal. However, in August 1978 the Iranian embassy was again occupied by CISNU members. The Dutch government was terrified Iran would start another boycott. The timing was terrible: the Shah was about to place a billion-guilder order with the Dutch shipbuilding industry. No boycott was initiated however, nor did the Iranian government take any other action against The Netherlands. What had changed?