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Reply #14: The 1953 CIA coup that put the Shah in power, would be a good start [View All]

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IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-29-09 12:45 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. The 1953 CIA coup that put the Shah in power, would be a good start
Edited on Thu Jan-29-09 12:48 AM by IndianaGreen
In 1953 the CIA engineered a coup to topple democratically elected leader Mohammad Mosaddeq and put the Shah in power. Everything involving US-Iran relations originated with that coup, whose goal was to secure Iran's oil for British and American oil companies.

On the morning of August 19, 1953, a crowd of demonstrators operating at the direction of pro-Shah organizers with ties to the CIA made its way from the bazaars of southern Tehran to the center of the city. Joined by military and police forces equipped with tanks, they sacked offices and newspapers aligned with Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq and his advisers, as well as the communist Tudeh Party and others opposed to the monarch. By early afternoon, clashes with Mosaddeq supporters were taking place, the fiercest occurring in front of the prime minister's home. Reportedly 200 people were killed in that battle before Mosaddeq escaped over his own roof, only to surrender the following day. At 5:25 p.m., retired General Fazlollah Zahedi, arriving at the radio station on a tank, declared to the nation that with the Shah's blessing he was now the legal prime minister and that his forces were largely in control of the city.

Although official U.S. reports and published accounts described Mosaddeq's overthrow and the shah's restoration to power as inspired and carried out by Iranians, this was far from the full story. Memoirs of key CIA and British intelligence operatives and historical reconstructions of events have long established that a joint U.S.-British covert operation took place in mid-August, which had a crucial impact. Yet, there has continued to be a controversy over who was responsible for the overthrow of the popularly elected Mosaddeq, thanks to accounts by, among others, former Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Zahedi's son, who later became a fixture in the Shah's regime. Those versions of events virtually ignored the possibility that any outside actors played a part, claiming instead that the movement to reinstate the Shah was genuine and nationwide in scope.

Now, a new volume of essays by leading historians of Iranian politics, the coup, and U.S. and British policy presents the most balanced, detailed, and up-to-date assessment of this landmark event to date. Based on new documentation and extensive interviews of participants, Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran (Syracuse University Press, 2004) offers an abundance of new information, analysis and insights into the staging of the overthrow as well as the historical, political, and social context which made it possible.

Among the book's main conclusions is that Iranians and non-Iranians both played crucial parts in the coup's success. The CIA, with help from British intelligence, planned, funded and implemented the operation. When the plot threatened to fall apart entirely at an early point, U.S. agents on the ground took the initiative to jump-start the operation, adapted the plans to fit the new circumstances, and pressed their Iranian collaborators to keep going. Moreover, a British-led oil boycott, supported by the United States, plus a wide range of ongoing political pressures by both governments against Mosaddeq, culminating in a massive covert propaganda campaign in the months leading up to the coup helped create the environment necessary for success.

However, Iranians also contributed in many ways. Among the Iranians involved were the Shah, Zahedi and several non-official figures who worked closely with the American and British intelligence services. Their roles in the coup were clearly vital, but so also were the activities of various political groups - in particular members of the National Front who split with Mosaddeq by early 1953, and the Tudeh party - in critically undermining Mosaddeq's base of support. The volume provides substantial detail and analysis about the roles of each of these groups and individuals, and even includes scrutiny of Mosaddeq and the ways in which he contributed to his own demise.
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