All The Shah’s Men

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Or, How The CIA Overthrew Iran’s Democracy In 4 Days.

An old story but, still current surely!

I wish we had never had Oil under our soil! I think that if it would be so, we, as the Persian folk, could have more chance to find our autonomy and own freedom.

This book, by Stephen Kinzler, http://Stephen Kinzer is a heart-breaking tell for the people who love democracy. And it also calms my heart because there will be found such great people in the USA, (a country with one of the best constitutions in human rights history) who has such compassion with our tragedy. Oh yes! I believe that it was a tragedy. Because it has destroyed all the hope of a free Iran in the future. From that time, the western powers planned to control all the uprising acts of every kind. As we have seen, the Islamic Revolution of the year 1979 in Iran with its Charlatans as leaders and good faith naive intellectuals who have been massacred at the end!

It must be not wondering that I write something about political issues because as far as I began to think autonomic, got active, along with my brother Al, in such political events in Iran. I mean: with activating the brain, one begins to create, which means to be an artist, and Art and Freedom are inseparable.

Anyway, the CIA had finally released their documents on the coup against Mossadegh and his government, which was, of course, something obvious for all the true intellectuals. But it is good for the world to understand how it had gone.

Aug. 21, 1953: A resident of Tehran washes “Yankee Go Home” from a wall in the capital city of Iran. The new Prime Minister Fazlollah Zahedi requested the cleanup after the overthrow of his predecessor.

In the political history of Iran, there occurred more than one revolution for democracy but, what happened in the time of Dr Mossadegh, was an uprising against the interest of the mighty western countries and their predominance. Shah was an inexperienced young prince and had great respect for Mossadegh, though his Ego and his lust to be on the top, forced him to sell his country. Dr Mossadegh was unique, not only as a politician but also as a human. We will never find a duplicate.

Mohammad Mosaddegh (Persian: محمد مصدق‎;  16 June 1882 – 5 March 1967) was an Iranian politician who served as the 35th Prime Minister of Iran, holding office from 1951 until 1953, when his government was overthrown in the 1953 Iranian coup d’état orchestrated by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency and the United Kingdom’s MI6.

An author, administrator, lawyer and prominent parliamentarian, his administration introduced a range of social and political measures such as social security, land reforms and higher taxes including the introduction of taxation of the rent on land. His government’s most significant policy, however, was the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry, which had been built by the British on Persian lands since 1913 through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC/AIOC), later known as British Petroleum (BP) … more; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Mosaddegh

Al and I got know Dr Mossadegh through our mother’s saying, who told us about our father’s sympathise with him and told us about how father was against a coalition with Mullahs, and he was unfortunately right because they had a great deal in Mossadegh’s overthrown. Now, let’s have a look at the declaration on this operation: PS: I have to add here that Mossadegh, after fruitless negotiations with Great Britain, took the case to court (to The Hague, Holland) and won.

On Aug. 19, 2013, the CIA publicly admitted for the first time its involvement in the 1953 coup against Iran’s elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.

August 19, 1953: Massive protests broke out across Iran, leaving almost 300 dead in firefights in the streets of Tehran. Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh was soon overthrown in a coup orchestrated by the CIA and British intelligence. The Shah was reinstalled as Iran’s leader.

The documents provided details of the CIA’s plan at the time, which was led by senior officer Kermit Roosevelt Jr., the grandson of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Over the course of four days in August 1953, Roosevelt would orchestrate not one, but two attempts to destabilize the government of Iran, forever changing the relationship between the country and the U.S. In this episode, we go back to retrace what happened in the inaugural episode of NPR’s new history podcast, Throughline.

Mohammad Mossadegh was a beloved figure in Iran. During his tenure, he introduced a range of social and economic policies, the most significant being the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry. Great Britain had controlled Iran’s oil for decades through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. After months of talks the prime minister broke off negotiations and denied the British any further involvement in Iran’s oil industry. Britain then appealed to the United States for help, which eventually led the CIA to orchestrate the overthrow of Mossadegh and restore power to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran.

Mosaddegh became aware of the plots against him and grew increasingly wary of conspirators acting within his government.  According to Dr. Donald N. Wilber, who was involved in the plot to remove Mossadegh from power, in early August, Iranian CIA operatives pretending to be socialists and nationalists threatened Muslim leaders with “savage punishment if they opposed Mossadegh,” thereby giving the impression that Mossadegh was cracking down on dissent earlier than planned, and stirring anti-Mossadegh sentiments within the religious community. A referendum to dissolve parliament and give the prime minister power to make law was submitted to voters, and it passed with 99 percent approval, 2,043,300 votes to 1300 votes against. According to Mark J. Gasiorowski, “There were separate polling stations for yes and no votes, producing sharp criticism of Mosaddeq” and that the “controversial referendum…gave the CIA’s precoup propaganda campaign to show up Mosaddeq as an anti-democratic dictator an easy target”. On or around 16 August, Parliament was suspended indefinitely, and Mosaddeq’s emergency powers were extended.

Declassified documents released by the CIA in 2017 revealed that – after the Shah had fled to Italy – CIA headquarters believed the coup to have failed. They sent a cable calling off operations to Roosevelt on 18 August 1953, but Roosevelt ignored it.

According to Stephen Kinzer, author of the book All the Shah’s Men, Roosevelt quickly seized control of the Iranian press by buying them off with bribes and circulating anti-Mossadegh propaganda. He recruited allies among the Islamic clergy, and he convinced the shah that Mossadegh was a threat. The last step entailed a dramatic attempt to apprehend Mossadegh at his house in the middle of the night. But the coup failed. Mossadegh learned of it and fought back. The next morning, he announced victory over the radio.

A 1950 photo of Kermit Roosevelt Jr., grandson of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, and a former Central Intelligence Agency official.

Mossadegh thought he was in the clear, but Roosevelt hadn’t given up. He orchestrated a second coup, which succeeded. Mossadegh was placed on trial and spent his life under house arrest. The shah returned to power and ruled for another 25 years until the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The 1953 coup was later invoked by students and the political class in Iran as a justification for overthrowing the shah.

On 21 December 1953, Mossadegh was sentenced to three years’ solitary confinement in a military prison, well short of the death sentence requested by prosecutors. After hearing the sentence, Mossadegh was reported to have said with a calm voice of sarcasm: “The verdict of this court has increased my historical glories. I am extremely grateful you convicted me. Truly tonight the Iranian nation understood the meaning of constitutionalism.”

Mossadegh under house arrest in Ahmadabad

He had fought for a free and democratic Iran as he’d believed in it, though I am convinced that we have still a lot to learn.

Mossadegh was kept under house arrest at his Ahmadabad residence, until his death on 5 March 1967. He was denied a funeral and was buried in his living room, despite his request to be buried in the public graveyard, beside the victims of the political violence on 30 Tir 1331 (21 July 1952). http://www.mohammadmossadegh.com/biography/30-tir/

With his end, the democracy and all the will of the few intelligent people who had fought for freedom for an autonomous Iran had ended. The betrayal of the Shah, who had preferred to stay on his glamourous thrown, had disappointed and dispersed all the good-willing comrades. I can only share my sadness with this Masterwork by Barber’s Adagio (http://Samuel Barber) for Strings, Op.11. You might also know it in Oliver Stone’s movie: Platoon. http://Oliver Stone

If you would like to read more on the 1953 coup, here’s a list:

15 thoughts on “All The Shah’s Men

  1. I must confess to knowing little about the history of Iran, just a little from a friend of mine’s husband whose family fled the country in the 1980s. The US government, the British and others… what I mess they’ve left behind all over the world.

    Such a beautiful piece of music. It reminds me of that other famous adagio by Albinioni: Adagio in G Minor. That always makes me cry.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Like Chris, I knew so little about this history Aladin, so thank you for shining your lamp and light on this subject and helping me learn more. What a terrible, terrible time so many people had … an understatement for sure! Fascinating and terrible as your story is you’ve piqued my interest to learn more so thank you for sharing. Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Elaine Mansfield

    I knew about this and learned more about it many years ago as a political science major. I’m ashamed of all the damage my country has done to steal resources in Iran and other countries of the Middle East, in Latin America, and any place where our government thought it could get something more even if it had no right to it. It’s a sad history for the world and for your country. It’s heartbreaking that this continues on all over the world with every powerful country.

    Liked by 1 person

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