How The CIA Screwed Up Iran

I’ve been reading more from Tim Weiner’s book “Legacy Of Ashes: The History of the CIA” and have finished the story about how the CIA staged a covert coup d’état against the legitimate government of Iran in 1953. You can read the salient details in Wikipedia. Note: this isn’t a “conspiracy theory” – it was confirmed by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, during the administration of President Bill Clinton, when she called it a “setback for democratic government” in Iran.

Basically what happened is this:

The Iranians wanted to nationalize their oil. They had done a deal with the British in 1901 to explore Iran for oil and just before WWI, Winston Churchill moved the British navy from coal-burning ships over to oil-burning ships and then basically took control of Iran’s oil production, leaving them with only 16% of the profits. The Iranians weren’t happy with the situation, to the British installed a Shah of their liking on the throne.

During WWII, Churchill invaded Iran, got rid of the Shah (who was thought to be too friendly with the Nazis) and installed his son on the throne.

After WWII, the Iranians decided to take control of their oil production back. And Churchill wasn’t happy. Britian took their case to the International Court of Justice at The Hague – and lost. So Churchill asked the American government to intervene. The President (Truman) said no. So MI6 turned to the CIA who said “sure that sounds like fun”.

They then spent millions of dollars undermining the government, spreading lies about them, hiring thugs to commit crimes around the country and then blaming it on communists, on propaganda accusing the Iranian Prime Minister Mossadeq of being a communist, etc. The BBC in Britian did their part, also broadcasting anti-Iranian propaganda to lend the events legitimacy.

Eventually US-backed troops stormed the Prime Minister’s offices, arrested him, and he spent the last years of his life in prison, replaced by a General Zahedi, picked by the US and Britian to be Mossadeq’s puppet successor.

What happened next? 25 years later the Iranian revolution happened, fueled by memories of the coup, and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini took control and the country has hated the US and Britian ever since. Can you blame them?

Of course, the US and Britian denied all of this ever happened for almost 50 years until internal CIA documents were leaked in 2000.

So – the next time you hear about how Iran “hate our freedoms” or about the US trying to overthrow a country and other “conspiracy theories”, remember – Iran 1953.

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4 thoughts on “How The CIA Screwed Up Iran

  1. One little detail – it’s not the case that MI6 and the CIA negotiated this sordid little deal behind closed doors – the British just waited two years, then asked Eisenhower, who said yes.

    It’s really important not to forget this sort of colonial meddling, though..

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