I953 US coup in Iran : Lessons for Sri Lanka
Posted on September 8th, 2011

Shenali Waduge

It is widely believed that the success of the Iranian coup & the coup in Guatemala by the US prompted its successive leaders to follow covert action & regime change as a foreign policy. Mohammad Mossadegh was the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran in 1951. His fall is seen as the perfect example of how a rich & powerful nation can create chaos in another nation.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt was tasked by the CIA to head the mission to overthrow the Iranian government. The mission was called Operation Ajax.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The US & UK involvement

Why would US desire to overthrow Mossadegh since he was afterall an elected leader & popular amongst the Iranians too?

Kermit Roosevelt may have been the brainchild behind the coup itself but like in the present day scenario another country was also involved. Great Britain too had eyes on the Middle East to enhance their trade primarily through the Anglo Iranian Oil Company & the revenues generated from the sale of oil & taxes levied on Iran was over 170million pounds & 30% profits in taxes.

Will imperialists like to hear ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-nationalismƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” not likely & when newly elected PM Mossadegh announced plans to nationalize Iranian oil production ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” the British determined to stop oil production & force Mossadegh to change, plot a coup & install a government friendly to British interest or take direct military action.

As the leader of Iran, Mossadegh was very much within his rights to nationalize oil that belonged to Iran & he was gentleman enough to offer compensation to the British though it had benefited all these years. Nevertheless, Britain went ahead to stop oil production creating a disastrous impact on Iranian economy & abandoned military action as they could not get sufficient troops to the area so it was left to the next option ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” overthrowing Mossadegh. M16 & the British Foreign Office approached the CIA & an agreement was reached & funds from both intelligence units were used to fund the protests & bribe necessary people.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ UNƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s role

Instead of Iran seeking the assistance of the UN for attempts to overthrow a democratic government, it was the British that lodged a case against Iran with the United Nations Security Council & the International Court of Justice at The Hague. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ So how does one create chaos in a country that has varying cultures, traditions & beliefs?

Kermit Roosevelt began by bribing members of parliament & leaders of small political groups that were partners of MossadeghsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s coalition. Kermit Rooselvelt spent USD11,000 per week on bribing 90 members of the Iranian parliament. The average annual income in Iran was USD500. It was thus a very easy task to bribe. What ensued was not hard to fathom. Disarray in parliament.

Kermit Roosevelt next went on to bribing newspaper editors, newspaper owners, columnists & journalists. That was not so hard to do either.

Meanwhile, foreign tv channels & media carried out their role. BBC Persion Radio channel was the propaganda arm of the British Government in Iran (the channel has admitted its complicity in the Iranian overthrow ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” 18 August 2011). Note how perfectly this connects with the Channel 4 documentary & allegations against Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s armed forces. The irony is that all these admissions of guilt come far too late & after the damage to a nation & its people has been done.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The result. Within no time almost 80% of newspapers in Tehran was not only on Kermit Roosevelts payroll but they were suddenly attacking Mossadegh from all fronts. This shows how easy it is to manipulate media & how successful media is in turning the thoughts of its viewers & readers.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The next target was the religious leaders.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Without surprise, the Mullahs were soon denouncing Mossadegh calling him an atheist & an enemy of Islam.

Kermit Roosevelt did not stop there. He also bribed the police & low-ranking military officers & gave them specific orders to be ready.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Having bribed politicians, newspapers & journalists, religious leaders, the police & armed forces it was easy to bribe the public & organize street protests in Tehran. This was to project that Mossadegh was not only unpopular in parliament, amongst the forces as well as even amongst the public & that he had no control over law & order in Iran. Kermit Roosevelt is said to have even hired men to run through the streets shouting ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-We love Mossadegh & communismƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚, which by way of the message being conveyed left people to automatically go against Mossadegh. With this achieved, Roosevelt hired another gang to attack the first gang to reveal that Mossadegh & communism would not be tolerated & that there was total failure of order in Iran.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ This clearly depicts how even one agent can cause an entire nation to fall into disintegration with the strength of money that can win over people. A fairly stable Iran, that installed a leader democratically elected was overthrown by creating a totally wrong impression about him amongst his people.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The first coup attempt took place on 5th August 1953. An officer who had been bought over by Kermit Roosevelt arrived at Prime Minister MossadeghƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s home with an order signed by the Shah of Iran firing him as Prime Minister. This was done purposely because as a democratically elected leader only the Iranian Parliament could fire him. The gameplan was to make Mossadegh refuse to accept the order in facilitate his arrest. A CIA prepared Iranian general was ready to take over but Mossadegh who came to be informed of the plan was quick to arrest the officer while the Shah fled the country. Despite orders by the CIA to return to US, Kermit Roosevelt decided to activate his hired mobs on 19th August (2 weeks after the failed coup attempt) to cause rampage on the streets. Tens of thousands of people were paid to go out into the street & start chanting anti-Mossadegh slogans. Even paid members of the police & military joined & soon the crowds started to storm government buildings until they approached the Prime Ministers House. They say about a 100 people died inside Mossadeghs house. Mossadegh managed to flee the house & surrendered himself a few days later & the Iranian general (Major-general Fazlollah Zahedi) on the payroll of the CIA was installed as the Iranian Prime Minister. Mossadegh was tried, imprisoned for three years and kept “under house arrest at his estate” until he died in March 1967.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The Shah of Iran who was in Italy at the time on hearing of the success of the 2nd coup flew back to Iran & was received by none other than Kermit Roosevelt himself. That was how the CIA installed dictator Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi who was later toppled in the Islamic Revolution in 1979 led by Ayatollah Khomeini.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Mission Succeeded Kermit Roosevelt returned to the US met with President Eisenhower & members of the US national security & weeks later he was given his second assignment ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” to overthrow the government of Guatemala. However, another CIA agent eventually was given the task & what happened in Iran took place in Guatemala.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  The cost of the Iranian overthrowing operation took USD1million.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The Iran coup was the first time the US overthrew a democratically elected government. It was a relatively low cost operation as well. Without invading & committing US troops, the US managed to oust a leader whom they disliked. This blueprint came to be used & reused in all of the regime change & covert programs that the CIA came to be involved in.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The examples given in the manner that a very popular leader in a country came to be looked upon as an enemy before the very people that looked upto him spells clear dangers of what is at stake for not only Sri Lanka but any nation that the US looks to target.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Bribing state officials, private entities & even the public was a simple endeavor & just one single CIA agent succeeded to oust a government & cause chaos to an entire nation. Two countries that invoke ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-democracy ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” democratic idealsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ ended up overthrowing a magnanimous leader & opening the doors to fundamentalism in Iran. No international body cared to point fingers at the wrongdoers instead these very organizations played puppet & function in the same manner even now.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ These are lessons we cannot forget ever. Mossadegh was popular, he ended up having to flee for his life, Iran was a democracy & has been turned by a supposed democratic nation towards fundamentalism, bribing always wins the day & as in Irans case even ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-loyalistsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ turned away. We know how true this is in the manner politicians cross over. We know the people who are likely to be in the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-payrollƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ but there are others who one cannot imagine & this professes dangers for Sri Lanka & its future.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Shenali Waduge

4 Responses to “I953 US coup in Iran : Lessons for Sri Lanka”

  1. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Diplomatic relations between Iraq & the US had been severed shortly after the 1967 Arab-Israeli 6 Day War. A decade later, following a series of major political developments, particularly after the Iranian Revolution and the seizure of embassy staff in the 1979–81 Iran hostage crisis, US President Jimmy Carter ordered a review of US policy toward Iraq.
    Islamic revolution in Iran upset the entire strategic equation in the region. America’s principal ally in the Persian Gulf, the Shah, was swept aside overnight, and no one else on the horizon could replace him as the guarantor of US interests in the region.
    During the crisis, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein attempted to take advantage of the disorder of the Revolution, the weakness of the Iranian military and the revolution’s antagonism with Western governments. The Iranian military had been disbanded during the revolt and with the Shah ousted, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had ambitions to position himself as the new strong man of the Middle East. He condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and signed an alliance with Saudi Arabia to block the Soviet-backed attempt to take over North Yemen. In 1979 he also allowed the CIA, which he had once so virulently attacked, to open an office in Baghdad. Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to US President Carter, began to look more favorably toward Saddam Hussein as a potential counterweight to the Ayatollah Khomeini and as a force to contain Soviet expansionism in the region.
    The hint of change in the US attitude toward Iraq was warmly welcomed in Iraq. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein believed that recognition by the US of Iraq’s role as a counter to radical, fundamentalist Iran would boost his ambition of becoming the acknowledged head of the Arab world. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had an old score to settle with the Iranians over his southern border. He had never liked the agreement signed with the Shah in 1975. He felt confident he could regain the lost territory and probably topple the anti-US regime in Iran by taking swift military action. Saddam HusseinHe had no illusions that the US would openly support the war he proposed to start. But getting rid of the Ayatollah Khomeini was clearly in the US interest, and in many other ways the US and Iraq could benefit each other, Saddam Hussein believed. It was time to renew diplomatic relations with the US and to move on quickly to more elaborate forms of strategic cooperation.
    Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein made a visit to Amman in 1979, before the Iran–Iraq War, where he met with King Hussein and 3 agents of the CIA. Saddam Hussein discussed his plans to invade Iran with the CIA agents.
    Zbigniew Brzezinski was letting Saddam assume there was a US green light for his invasion of Iran, because there was no explicit red light.
    According to Zbigniew Brzezinski’s memoir, the US initially took a largely neutral position on the Iran–Iraq War, with some minor exceptions. First, the USA acted in an attempt to prevent the confrontation from widening, largely in order to prevent additional disruption to world oil supplies and to honor US security assurances to Saudi Arabia. As a result, the US reacted to Soviet troop movements on the border of Iran by informing the Soviet Union that they would defend Iran in the event of Soviet Union invasion. The U.S. also acted to defend Saudi Arabia, and lobbied the surrounding states not to become involved in the war. Zbigniew Brzezinski characterizes this recognition of the Middle East as a vital strategic region on a par with Western Europe and the Far East as a fundamental shift in US strategic policy. Second, the US explored whether the Iran–Iraq War would offer leverage with which to resolve the Iranian Hostage Crisis. In this regard, the Carter administration explored the use of both “carrots”, by suggesting that they might offer military assistance to Iran upon release of the hostages, and “sticks”, by discouraging Israeli military assistance to Iran and suggesting that they might offer military assistance to Iraq if the Iranians did not release the hostages. Third, as the war progressed, freedom of navigation, especially at the Strait of Hormuz, was deemed a critical priority.
    During the war, the US covertly worked to destabilize both Iran and Iraq. By 1982, the war’s momentum had shifted to Iran, which was threatening Basra, Iraq’s second largest city. According to a 1995 affidavit by Reagan National Security Council staffer Howard Teicher, “In the Spring of 1982, Iraq teetered on the brink of losing its war with Iran. In June, 1982, President Reagan decided that the United States would do whatever was necessary and legal to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran.
    Donald Rumsfeld, Ronald Reagan’s special envoy, meeting Saddam Hussein on December 19,1983 to buttress ties and cooperation.
    But by 1985, the US was working to contain the Iraqis. A May 1985 CIA memo to Director Casey said, “Our tilt to Iraq was timely when Iraq was against the ropes and the Islamic revolution was on a roll. The time may now have to come to tilt back….”. In September 1986, Reagan official Oliver North promised Iran that the US could “bring our influence to bear with certain friendly Arab nations” to oust the Saddam Hussein regime. Earlier, in February 1986, while these secret discussions were taking place, Iran scored a major victory by capturing Iraq’s Fao Peninsula. The January 19, 1987 New York Times reported that Iraqi officials believed that their defeat at Fao “was due to faulty U.S. intelligence.” Iraq detected Iranian troop movements, the Iraqi official said, but the U.S. “kept on telling us that the Iranian attack was not aimed against Fao.” When Iraq intentionally attacked the USS Stark, however, the US did not punish Iraq. From July 24, 1987 – September 26, 1988, the U.S. Navy launched Operation Earnest Will, in which the US escorted and protected Kuwaiti oil tankers from Iranian attacks, at Kuwait’s request. Operation Earnest Will was the largest naval convoy operation undertaken by the US since World War II and constituted a policy of “neutral intervention”, calculated to be delterious to Iran but officially maintaining the US policy of neutrality.
    Between 1987 and 1988, the US engaged in a secret effort to spy on Iran with aircraft, in what was called Operation Eager Glacier. Operation Prime Chance was a US naval operation from August 1987 until June 1989, said by the US to be in response to the mining of the US flagged Kuwaiti oil tanker Bridgeton. Operation Nimble Archer was the US naval attack on October 19, 1987 on two Iranian oil platforms in the Persian Gulf. The attack, claimed by the US to be response to Iran’s October 16, 1987 attack with a Silkworm missile on the MV Sea Isle City, a Kuwaiti oil tanker reflagged as a US vessel at anchor off Kuwait. On April 18, 1988, the US launched Operation Praying Mantis, claimed by the US to be in response to the mining of the USS Samuel B. Roberts. By the end of the operation the US fleet had damaged Iranian naval and intelligence facilities on two inoperable oil platforms in the Persian Gulf, and sunk at least three armed Iranian speedboats, one Iranian frigate and one fast attack gunboat. One other Iranian frigate was damaged in the operation. This US operation is credited with forcing Iran to agree to a ceasefire with Iraq. Also, the US supported People’s Mujahedin of Iran invaded Iran from its base in Iraq shortly after the end of the Iraq-Iran war in a failed attempt to overthrow the government of Iran.

  2. AnuD Says:

    1950s Iranian President had tried to reached to the west as best as he can. But, they refused. They wanted it this way I suppose. Iran also does the same. But, later finds always double crossed. Saddam also western ally and supported by the west. It is the west who wanted Saddam to go to war with Iran just to wreck the country

  3. jay-ran Says:

    Above well written article brings past memories in Sri lankan history when we go back to 1962, where several Catholic Service personnel along with then Governor planned a coup to overthrow Mrs Sirimao Bandaranayake’s Govt.But thanks to the only Buddhist Service personnel involved who felt it was not good for the country and specially to Sinhalese Buddhists, divulged this to his father-in-law dead in the night, who immediately informed the PM,Sirimao. I was a student at Katubedda Practical Training Institute, presently University of Katubedda, where two days prior to this a fleet of Army soldiers lead by Captain Paulier occupied the vacant dometery and next morning we heard Captain Paulier had suicided.A large scale disaster was prevented by that Patriot namely Dissanayake’s timely action.
    Even now we see JVP trying to bring the massess to streets in pretest against Govt on fake issues.Followers not knowing the hidden agenda of these undemocratic hooligans who went on rampage and started killing innocents and destructing govt property etc.
    Another clear indication of facts mentioned by Shenali is well proved beyond doubts how Brtitish Sec of State Milliband the Tiger supporter with other Western high ranking guns came to Sri Lanka during the last stages of war and tried to threaten Sri Lankan President Mahinds Rajapakse to stop the war to RESCUE PRABAKARAN THE MASS MURDERER SO THAT SRI LANKA WILL BE COMPELLED TO PROLONG TERRORISTS PROBLEMS.

    Finally, the Brotish PM Brown who said that Sri Lanka will have to face severe concequencis if it does not follow their advices WEE WHOLE SALE DEFATED AT THE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS, including Sillyband.

    We Patriotic Sri Lankans must be vigilent about present day happenning carefully and if not, WE ALL MAY LOOSE THE FREEDOM AND LIBERTY WE ENJOY WITHOUT A SINGLE BOMB EXPLOSSION SINCE MAY 2009!!!
    May all the patriotic Sri Lankans be protected by the BLESSINGS OF NOBLE TRIPLE GEM!!!

  4. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    At the end of World War II, an agreement was reached at the Bretton Woods Conference which pegged the value of gold at 35 US dollars per ounce and that became the international standard against which currency was measured. But in 1971, US President Richard Nixon took the dollar off the gold standard and ever since the dollar has been the most important global monetary instrument, and only the United States can produce them.
    The fear of the consequences of a weaker US dollar, particularly higher oil prices is seen as underlying and explaining many aspects of the US foreign policy, including the Iraq and Libyan War. The reality is that the value of the US dollar is determined by the fact that oil is sold in US dollars. If the denomination changes to another currency, such as the euro, many countries would sell dollars and cause the banks to shift their reserves, as they would no longer need US dollars to buy oil. This would thus weaken the US dollar relative to the euro. A leading motive of the US in the Iraq war — perhaps the fundamental underlying motive, even more than the control of the oil itself — is an attempt to preserve the US dollar as the leading oil trading currency. Since it is the USA that prints the petro-dollars, they control the flow of oil. Period. When oil is denominated in US dollars through US state action and the dollar is the only fiat currency for trading in oil, an argument can be made that the U.S. essentially owns the world’s oil for free.
    So long as almost three quarter of world trade is done in US dollars, the US dollar is the currency which central banks accumulate as reserves. But central banks, whether China or Japan or Brazil or Russia, do not simply stack US dollars in their vaults. Currencies have one advantage over gold. A central bank can use it to buy the state bonds of the issuer, the USA. Most countries around the world are forced to control trade deficits or face currency collapse. Not the USA. This is because of the US dollar reserve currency role. And the underpinning of the reserve role is the petrodollar. Every nation needs to get US dollars to import oil, some more than others. This means their trade targets US dollar countries.
    Because oil is an essential commodity for every nation, the Petrodollar system, which exists to the present, demands the buildup of huge trade surpluses in order to accumulate US dollar surpluses. This is the case for every country but one — the USA which controls the US dollar and prints it at will or fiat. Because today the majority of all international trade is done in US dollars, countries must go abroad to get the means of payment they cannot themselves issue. The entire global trade structure today works around this dynamic, from Russia to China, from Brazil to South Korea and Japan. Everyone aims to maximize US dollar surpluses from their export trade.
    Until November 2000, no OPEC country dared violate the dollar price rule. So long as the dollar was the strongest currency, there was little reason to as well. But November was when French and other Euroland members finally convinced Saddam Hussein to defy the United States by selling Iraq’s oil-for-food not in dollars, ‘the enemy currency’ as Iraq named it, but only in euros. The euros were on deposit in a special UN account of the leading French bank, BNP Paribas. Radio Liberty of the US State Department ran a short wire on the news and the story was quickly hushed.
    This little-noted Iraq move to defy the dollar in favor of the euro, in itself, was insignificant. Yet, if it were to spread, especially at a point the dollar was already weakening, it could create a panic selloff of dollars by foreign central banks and OPEC oil producers. In the months before the latest Iraq war, hints in this direction were heard from Russia, Iran, Indonesia and even Venezuela. An Iranian OPEC official, Javad Yarjani, delivered a detailed analysis of how OPEC at some future point might sell its oil to the EU for euros not dollars. He spoke in April, 2002 in Oviedo Spain at the invitation of the EU. All indications are that the Iraq war was seized on as the easiest way to deliver a deadly pre-emptive warning to OPEC and others, not to flirt with abandoning the Petro-dollar system in favor of one based on the euro.
    Informed banking circles in the City of London and elsewhere in Europe privately confirm the significance of that little-noted Iraq move from petro-dollar to petro-euro. ‘The Iraq move was a declaration of war against the dollar’, one senior London banker told me recently. ‘As soon as it was clear that Britain and the US had taken Iraq, a great sigh of relief was heard in London City banks. They said privately, “now we don’t have to worry about that damn euro threat”.
    First Iraq and then Libya decided to challenge the petrodollar system and stop selling all their oil for US dollars, shortly before each country was attacked.The cost of war is not nearly as big as it is made out to be. The cost of not going to war would be horrendous for the US unless there were another way of protecting the US dollar’s world trade dominance.
    Guess how USA pays for the wars? By printing US dollars it is going to war to protect.
    After considerable delay, Iran opened an oil bourse which does not accept US dollars. Many people fear that the move will give added reason for the USA to overthrow the Iranian regime as a means to close the bourse and revert Iran’s oil transaction currency to US dollars. In 2006 Venezuela indicated support of Iran’s decision to offer global oil trade in euro.
    6 months before the US moved into Iraq to take down Saddam Hussein, Iraq had made the move to accept Euros instead of US dollars for oil, and this became a threat to the global dominance of the US dollar as the reserve currency, and its dominion as the petrodollar.
    Muammar Qaddafi made a similarly bold move: he initiated a movement to refuse the US dollar and the euro, and called on Arab and African nations to use a new currency instead, the gold dinar. Muammar Qaddafi suggested establishing a united African continent, with its 200 million people using this single currency. The initiative was viewed negatively by the USA and the European Union, with French president Nicolas Sarkozy calling Libya a threat to the financial security of mankind; but Muammar Qaddafi continued his push for the creation of a united Africa.
    Muammar Gaddafi’s recent proposal to introduce a gold dinar for Africa revives the notion of an Islamic gold dinar floated in 2003 by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, as well as by some Islamist movements. The notion, which contravenes IMF rules and is designed to bypass them, has had trouble getting started. But today Iran, China, Russia, and India are stocking more and more gold rather than US dollars.
    If Muammar Qaddafi were to succeed in creating an African Union backed by Libya’s currency and gold reserves, France, still the predominant economic power in most of its former Central African colonies, would be the chief loser. The plans to spark the Benghazi rebellion were initiated by French intelligence services in November 2010.
    – Nalliah Thayabharan

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