In the early 1940s a crisis erupted into revolt in Isfahan.
Problems In Isfahan emerged when local mill owners decided to counter the demands of radical labor groups which were supported by the Tudeh party.
The British consul described the Isfahan situation “as a classic example of ‘class conflict'” and reported that “the Tudeh successfully recruited many of the 10,500 mill workers.”
The laborers clashed with mill owners who were demanding less radical unions and bribing military commanders to institute martial law.
Violence erupted when the mill owners initiated a lockout which threatened wages and, more importantly, access to food supplies.
Worker’s strikes were organized, clashes ensued, and company granaries were stormed.
The crisis in Isfahan generated a variety of reaction.
Locally, leaders of rival tribes signed secret pacts of friendship “directed against ‘Tudeh subversion'” which were supported by “southern property owners.”
Fearing the urban poor, they, “like ‘all men of property,’ hoped to prevent social revolution by creating some semblance of stability in their ‘feudal south.'”
Nationally, anti-Tudeh newspapers and journals were formed. One editorial titled “The Revolt in Isfahan” stated:
The Tudeh party, with its satanical doctrine of class struggles, has incited ignorant workers to violate the sacred right of private property and inflict social anarchy upon the industrial center of the country. The uprising proves that the Tudeh is an enemy of private property, of Iran, and of Islam. If the government does not stamp out the Tudeh, the local revolt will inevitably spread into a general revolution.
Regarding the Majles, the events in Isfahan assumed greater importance than the constitution issued we discussed in out previous post Cold War Iran: The Democratic Interlude.
A loyal anticommunist royalist was appointed governor-general of Isfahan province with orders to reestablish law and order at any cost, even if it meant distributing arms to formerly disloyal tribesmen.
Drastic cuts in the army were postponed since it was believed that “unless we immediately finance and effective army, such uprisings as occurred in Isfahan will spread and destroy the whole foundation of private property.”
The United States was also influenced by the chain of events in Iran, conducting five types of covert operations in the period just following the unrest.