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Doomed to Fail : A Century of Oil, Incompetence, and Ignorance in the Middle East - Part II AJAX

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posted on Jan, 30 2011 @ 12:51 PM
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As events unfold in what many perceived as one of our most stable allies in the Middle East, one has to wonder how we got to this point yet again. What advice would the ghost of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi have for embattled Muhammad Hosni Mubarak? How could we (The West) fail YET again and perhaps set in motion Islamic Republic of Egypt some 32 years after precipitating the same result in Iran? How could we supply unconditional support to another dictator, strongman, (whatever the euphemism du jur) all the while turning a blind eye to the corruption, brutality, and hubris such leaders all seem to posses.

To understand the events in Egypt we need to take a hard look at almost a century of failed United Kingdom and United States policies in the Middle East with a particular focus on Persia and as it was later known, Iran.

In this installment we look at perhaps one of the seminal events in the Middle East and Iran: Operation Ajax.

Doomed to Fail : A Century of Oil, Incompetence, and Ignorance in the Middle East - Part I Iran
 


"It is not far-fetched," he writes, "to draw a line from Operation Ajax through the Shah's repressive regime and the Islamic Revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York." - Steven Kinzer, Author, All the Shahs Men (2003)

 


Operation Ajax (The CIA overthrows a democracy)

Alarmed by the nationalization in 1951 of what was one of their largest foreign investments and key to their economic and military development, Britain began to evaluate its options. First and foremost was an boycott of Iranian oil on top of freezing money in its banks. In addition, British technicians were forbidden to work at the giant Abadan refinery thus crippling production. Following a victory against nationalization at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Mosaddegh invited American Oil executives to visit Iran. This invitation was supported by U.S. President Harry Truman. However at once Winston Churchill claimed such a visit would undermine their blockade of Iran and waved the Korean War flag : "Britain was supporting the Americans in Korea, he reminded Truman, and had a right to expect Anglo-American unity on Iran." (1) . The blockade of Iranian oil had its effect and by 1953 the country was heading for bankruptcy.

Meanwhile Britain had been attempting to get the Truman Administration to support a coup to overthrow the democratically elected government of Mosaddegh. The Truman administration busy with the war in Korea and perhaps sensing that this was not the way to go was uninterested in any such attempt. The debates between the two countries raged back and forth during this period. Many of the names are easily recognized and have influenced events even now.


The fourth salient point of Kinzer’s book is his masterful explanation of the internal debates
between American and British policy makers. Through the use of many sources – published
memoirs, unpublished private papers and interviews – Kinzer creates lively personal profiles of
various protagonists: President Truman, Dean Acheson (Truman’s secretary of state), Kermit
Roosevelt (grandson of Theodore), who organized the coup in Tehran, Gen. H. Norman
Schwarzkopf, Sr. (father of the commander of U.S. forces in Desert Storm), President Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles (Eisenhower’s secretary of state) and his brother Allen (director of the CIA). Kinzer does the same with various British actors from prime ministers to foreign secretaries to the head of the British oil company in Iran (the Anglo Iranian Oil Company, later British Petroleum).www.ghandchi.com...


However, with the election of Dwight Eisenhower, Britain sensed an opportunity. Changing its argument to that of Communism, Churchill found a more receptive audience in the new administration. Headed up by Kermit Roosevelt (the grandson of former president Theodore), a plan was put into motion.

The Coup

On August 15, 1953 the coup was set in motion. Roosevelt arranged to have the Shah (by now a mere figure head or at worse a puppet) issue a royal decree ordering Mosaddegh to surrender his post as Prime Minister and naming General Fazlollah Zahedi (who had been arrested by the British during World War II for trying to organize the Nazi party in Iran and was ironically the man hand picked by both them and the Americans) in his place. The CIA also bribed government officials, criminals, and others to oppose Mosaddegh and support the Shah.


The plan comprised propaganda, provocations, demonstrations, and bribery, and employed agents of influence, "false flag" operatives, dissident military leaders, and paid protestors. The measure of success seemed easy enough to gauge—"all that really mattered was that Tehran be in turmoil, "https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol48no2/article10.html


Mosaddegh who had prior warning refused the order and claimed it was a forgery. The initial attempt had failed and the Shah sensing a backlash for his involvement fled the country to Iraq then Italy


TEHERAN, Iran, Aug. 16--Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi and his Queen fled to Baghdad, Iraq, today after an attempt to oust Premier Mohammed Mosaddegh, either by a coup or by a formal dismissal, according to conflicting versions, had failed. Dr. Mosaddegh appeared to be in complete control tonight, with the bulk of the Army apparently supporting him.

The attempt to remove the Premier was made at midnight. By dawn, Government forces had freed three arrested officials, including Foreign Minister Hossein Fatemi, and had in their turn arrested the Acting Court Minister, Abolghassem Amini, Colonel Nasiri, commander of the palace guard, and scores of other persons, including military officers. partners.nytimes.com...


However, undeterred, Roosevelt redoubled his efforts and by August 19th the Coup was successful. Pro Shah units of the military and paid mobs began to have an effect. Mosaddegh was forced to flee his home and surrender to General Zahedi. Living in exile, and upon hearing the news:

“The shah is in Rome and is being called upon to return to his throne. "He went into a form of shock, the color drained out of his face and his hands started to shake. When he could finally regain his composure, he said: 'I knew it. They love me.'" (2)

As we will see later, the Shah was already out of touch and in full grip of the Hubris that would lead to his downfall. The CIA group led by Roosevelt had chosen “Luck be a Lady” as their theme song for the operation and it seemed luck had been indeed on their side.

The Aftermath

Mohammad Mosaddegh was arrested and sentenced initial to death for high treason. However, this was commuted by the Shah in perhaps an attempt to seem magnanimous. He spent 3 years in solitary confinement and then was ordered exiled to his home and remained under house arrest there till his death on March 5th, 1967.

In one fell swoop, the CIA had destroyed a popular democratically elected leader and replaced him with what they viewed as a puppet monarch.
 


In part three and beyond we will take a close look at the rise of the Shah, The White Revolution, The rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the hostage crisis, and the Iran Iraq war.



(1) All the Shahs Men, Steven Kinzer, 2003
(2) All the Shahs Men, Steven Kinzer, 2003

The Prize, The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, Daniel Yergin, 1992 pg. 136

other references

The Eagle and the Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations, James Bill
Why Intelligence Fails: Lessons from the Iranian Revolution and the Iraq War, Robert Jervins
Crisis and Crossfire: The United States and the Middle East Since 1945, Peter Hahn
A Cubic Mile of Oil: Realities and Options for Averting the Looming Global Energy Crisis, Edwin Kinderman et al.

edit on 1/30/11 by FredT because: (no reason given)

edit on 1/30/11 by FredT because: (no reason given)

edit on 1/30/11 by FredT because: (no reason given)

edit on 1/30/11 by FredT because: (no reason given)




posted on Jan, 30 2011 @ 01:33 PM
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S & F


In one fell swoop, the CIA had destroyed a popular democratically elected leader and replaced him with what they viewed as a puppet monarch.


The "Democratically elected" part of the story get's a fair amount of play with regards to discussing Operation Ajax. However it needs to be represented in it's proper historical context IMHO. It wasn't a general/popular election as many envision...

It's interesting to note that initially and maybe foolhardily TPTB in Iran during that period thought that Mossadegh could be controlled. [Another Puppet] His popularity grew after he was elected by Parliament and he demonstrated his desire for a stronger Iran with less influence from the West as well as keeping his eye on Iran's Northern Border.


Mohammad Mosaddegh



Election as prime minister

On 28 April 1951, the Majlis (Parliament of Iran) named Mosaddegh as new prime minister by a vote of 79–12. Aware of Mosaddegh's rising popularity and political power, the young Shah appointed Mosaddegh to the Premiership.



Mosaddegh shaking hands with Mohammad-Reza Shah in their first meeting after Mossadegh's election as Prime Minister

Source

In 1951, after the assassination of prime minister Ali Razmara, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh was elected prime minister by a parliamentary vote which was then ratified by the Shah. As prime minister, Mossadegh became enormously popular in Iran after he nationalized Iran's petroleum industry and oil reserves


edit on 30-1-2011 by SLAYER69 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 30 2011 @ 04:22 PM
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As an Iranian-Canadian who has been indirectly affected by this coup (my parents chose to leave Iran in the late 80's to escape the mullahs), I have to thank you for shining some light on a very dark history. Your brief thread contained details that even I was unaware of. A well deserved star and flag on both parts and I can't wait for the third part.

The thing is that Iran has a history of being attacked by various powers in its long history. From Arabs to Mongols to Russians, just to name a few. However, I believe this coup has caused more damage to Iran then any other attack. It is the reason why the country is so divided and why Islamic hard-liners were able to take such a tight grip on the nation. Many Iranians feel betrayed by the west and have turned to Islam as a means to fend-off the west and that has only made things worse.

The worse part of all this is the element of hypocrisy from the so called representatives of "democracy". How can the west speak of such terms when they have ruined any chance of it for Iran? Bottom-line is that the people of Iran need a hand to help them escape the horrid situation they are in but since they no longer trust the west, they in turn have no one to turn to.

A very sad situation indeed.



posted on Jan, 30 2011 @ 04:41 PM
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The fourth salient point of Kinzer’s book is his masterful explanation of the internal debates
between American and British policy makers. Through the use of many sources – published
memoirs, unpublished private papers and interviews – Kinzer creates lively personal profiles of
various protagonists: President Truman, Dean Acheson (Truman’s secretary of state), Kermit
Roosevelt (grandson of Theodore), who organized the coup in Tehran, Gen. H. Norman
Schwarzkopf, Sr. (father of the commander of U.S. forces in Desert Storm), President Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles (Eisenhower’s secretary of state) and his brother Allen (director of the CIA). Kinzer does the same with various British actors from prime ministers to foreign secretaries to the head of the British oil company in Iran (the Anglo Iranian Oil Company, later British Petroleum)


Also interesting to note that the main company responsible for the coup was BP who as we all know is also responsible for the Gulf oil spill. I guess the greed for oil can affect us all in one way or the other.



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