In light of recent events involving the US and Iran it seems appropriate to take an historical approach looking into the evolution of US/Iranian relations. This involves the CIA/MI-6 coup of 1953 names "Operation Ajax," but first we need to go back another ten years or so to an agreement made between FDR and the Saudi king- an agreement that has dominated US Middle East policy to this day. The focus on Middle East policy generally revolves around our relationship with Israel, but our relationship with Saudi Arabia predates the advent of the Israeli state. At this time Israel was in its incipient stage and was certainly a consideration, but the focus here was on oil- specifically the easy access to the enormous Saudi reserves. As early as 1942, Roosevelt administration big wigs- Sec of State Cordell Hull in particular- were warning of the rapidly depleting US reserves. In 1945 Roosevelt met with King Ibn Saud and forged an agreement that would provide Saudi Arabia with military protection in exchange for oil. At this juncture it seems redundant to say that oil has dominated US Middle East policy ever since.
Prior to the CIA/MI-6 sponsored coup Iranian Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadegh had nationalized Iranian oil production. This came in response to the control exerted by British Petroleum (BP) over the Iranian oil fields:
Western firms had for decades controlled the region’s oil wealth, whether Arabian-American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia, or the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in Iran. When the U.S. firm in Saudi Arabia bowed to pressure in late 1950 and agreed to share oil revenues evenly with Riyadh, the British concession in Iran came under intense pressure to follow suit. But London adamantly refused.
So in early 1951, amid great popular acclaim, Mossadegh nationalized Iran’s oil industry. A fuming United Kingdom began conspiring with U.S. intelligence services to overthrow Mossadegh and restore the monarchy under the shah. (Though some in the U.S. State Department, the newly released cables show, blamed British intransigence for the tensions and sought to work with Mossadegh.)
It's important to understand that Mossadegh was a nationalist and very popular with the Iranian people... what Britain and America wanted was a puppet that they could control (some things never change). Puppet regimes controlled by the US and UK have become standard operating procedure throughout the Middle East. When and if a puppet gets out of control, they're replaced by a coup as was Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
The coup attempt began on August 15 but was swiftly thwarted. Mossadegh made dozens of arrests. Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi, a top conspirator, went into hiding, and the shah fled the country. The CIA, believing the coup to have failed, called it off. “Operation has been tried and failed and we should not participate in any operation against Mossadegh which could be traced back to US,” CIA headquarters wrote to its station chief in Iran in a newly declassified cable sent on Aug. 18, 1953. “Operations against Mossadegh should be discontinued.” That is the cable which Kermit Roosevelt, top CIA officer in Iran, purportedly and famously ignored, according to Malcolm Byrne, who directs the U.S.-Iran Relations Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University.
In accordance with the "one size fits all" CIA Middle East policy large crowds were rented to spark "spontaneous" demonstrations in the streets of Tehran. Where was MI-6? Letting the US do all of the dirty work as usual. US policy was centered around Saudi Arabia and oil production there while Iran was supposed to be the "property" of the UK and BP. However, this did give the US inroads into Iran and their oil fields.
The consequences of his decision were momentous. The next day, on August 19, 1953, with the aid of “rented” crowds widely believed to have been arranged with CIA assistance, the coup succeeded. Iran’s nationalist hero was jailed, the monarchy restored under the Western-friendly shah, and Anglo-Iranian oil — renamed British Petroleum — tried to get its fields back. (But didn’t really: Despite the coup, nationalist pushback against a return to foreign control of oil was too much, leaving BP and other majors to share Iran’s oil wealth with Tehran.)
This came as a huge blow to British colonialism- at least in a traditional sense. In reality they just switched strategies, using banking instead of military might to keep "Commonwealth" nations in a state of servitude. [From a CIA Report- 2003] British colonialism faced its last stand in 1951 when the Iranian parliament nationalized the sprawling Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) after London refused to modify the firm's exploitative concession. "[B]y a series of insensate actions," the British replied with prideful stubbornness, "the Iranian Government is causing a great enterprise, the proper functioning of which is of immense benefit not only to the United Kingdom and Iran but to the whole free world, to grind to a stop. Unless this is promptly checked, the whole of the free world will be much poorer and weaker, including the deluded Iranian people themselves."2 Of that attitude, Dean Acheson, the secretary of state at the time, later wrote: "Never had so few lost so much so stupidly and so fast."3 But the two sides were talking past each other. The Iranian prime minister, Mohammed Mossadeq, was "a visionary, a utopian, [and] a millenarian" who hated the British, writes Kinzer. "You do not know how crafty they are," Mossadeq told an American envoy sent to broker the impasse. "You do not know how evil they are. You do not know how they sully everything they touch.
Mossadegh's mistake was reaching out to the American CIA for assistance- his admonition about the British turned out to be just true of the US. This coup has proven to be the basis for the acrimony that still exists between the US and Iran and was likely responsible for the birth of anti-American terrorism in Iran. On the UK side, "... Winston Churchill, was committed to stopping his country's empire from unraveling further."
Eisenhower and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, were dedicated to rolling back communism and defending democratic governments threatened by Moscow's machinations. In Iran's case, with diplomacy having failed and a military incursion infeasible (the Korean War was underway), they decided to take care of "that madman Mossadeq"5 through a covert action under the supervision of the secretary of state's brother, Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Allen Dulles.6 (Oddly, considering the current scholarly consensus that Eisenhower was in masterful control of his administration, Kinzer depicts him as beguiled by a moralistic John Foster and a cynical Allen.) Directing the operation was the CIA's charming and resourceful man in Tehran, Kermit Roosevelt, an OSS veteran, Arabist, chief of Middle East operations, and inheritor of some of his grandfather Theodore's love of adventure.
Eisenhower's biggest mistake was giving power to the Dulles brothers... two of the most corrupt individuals ever to walk the halls of power. Kennedy's attempt to rid the CIA of Allen likely contributed to his assassination. Even at this early juncture (the CIA had been in existence for under ten years) the CIA was operating with impunity seemingly immune from oversight of any kind. The CIA's immediate target was Mossadeq, whom the Shah had picked to run the government just before the parliament voted to nationalize the AIOC. A royal-blooded eccentric given to melodrama and hypochondria, Mossadeq often wept during speeches, had fits and swoons, and conducted affairs of state from bed wearing wool pajamas. During his visit to the United States in October 1951, Newsweek labeled him the "Fainting Fanatic" but also observed that, although most Westerners at first dismissed him as "feeble, senile, and probably a lunatic," many came to regard him as "an immensely shrewd old man with an iron will and a flair for self-dramatization."7 Time recognized his impact on world events by naming him its "Man of the Year" in 1951.
But they had underestimated Mossadegh's popularity with the Iranian people. "Mossadeq is Kinzer's paladin—in contrast to the schemers he finds in the White House and Whitehall—but the author does subject him to sharp criticism. He points out, for example, that Mossadeq's ideology blinded him to opportunities to benefit both himself and the Iranian people." Not necessarily so- Mossadegh's single mindedness- like that of President Trump- was built on nationalism. The strategy of the CIA was built on deception. "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—"[a]ll that really mattered was that Tehran be in turmoil."
The CIA's man on the ground in Iran was Ayatollah Abol-Ghasem Kashani, who led the manufactured uprising against Mossadegh. We all know the outcome- Mossadegh was arrested and jailed, the Shah was placed in power, the CIA denied any involvement saying that Mossadegh's overthrow was organic and in 1979 the Shah was deposed by the mullahs and a radical Islamic regime was instituted... America became the "Great Satan."
I'm no fan of radical Islam, but you can see how CIA intervention did more to destabilize Iran than anything else. What we're dealing with today is the direct result of the CIA and MI-6 looking to control the oil output of the Middle East. This information all comes as a result of recently released CIA documents: "All of this is thoroughly documented in documents that were released to the public in 2017." History will record that the CIA has done more damage than perhaps any other government agency... from drug smuggling, to human trafficking, brownstone operations using sex with children to target politicians, selling arms to despicable regimes- the CIA has operated in its own interests rather than the interests of our nation or its people. This is just one example of their misdeeds.