Sunday, August 19, 2007

Operation Ajax at 54

image via

In spite of his once having been chosen Time's man of the year, I'll bet most Americans don't know who Mohamed Mossadeq was. Likewise, I imagine most Americans don't know that British intelligence and our CIA overthrew Mr. Mossadeq after he nationalized Iran's oil companies and kicked BP out(the nerve!), forcing him out of office on August 19th, 1953, after he was democratically elected two years earlier, putting the Shah in his place.

Of course, given the general mendacity and sheer horribleness of most popular American news outlets, I can't entirely blame most Americans for being mystified by the question-- "why do they hate us?"

from wikipedia's entry on Operation Ajax:

The leader of Operation Ajax was Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., a senior CIA officer, and grandson of the former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. While formal leadership was vested in Kermit Roosevelt, the project was designed and executed by Donald Wilber, a career CIA agent and acclaimed author of books on Iran, Afghanistan and Ceylon.

The CIA operation centered around having the increasingly impotent Shah dismiss the powerful Prime Minister Mossadegh and replace him with General Fazlollah Zahedi, a choice agreed on by the British and Americans after careful examination for his likeliness to be anti-Soviet.

The BBC spearheaded Britain's propaganda campaign, broadcasting the code word to start the coup.[1]

Despite the high-level coordination and planning, the coup d'etat briefly faltered, and the Shah fled Iran. After a short exile in Italy, however, the Shah was brought back again, this time through follow-up CIA operations, which were successful. Zahedi was installed to succeed Prime Minister Mossadegh. The deposed Mossadegh was arrested, given what some have alleged to have been a show trial, and condemned to death. The Shah commuted this sentence to solitary confinement for three years in a military prison, followed by house arrest for life.

In 2000, the New York Times made partial publication of a leaked CIA document titled, "Clandestine Service History – Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran – November 1952-August 1953." This document describes the planning and execution conducted by the American and British governments. The New York Times published this critical document with the names censored. The New York Times also limited its publication to scanned image (bitmap) format, rather than machine-readable text. This document was eventually published properly – in text form, and fully unexpurgated. The complete CIA document ...[is now available on the web.] The word 'blowback' appeared for the very first time in this document.

In 2000, then. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright admitted that the coup was a "setback for democratic government" in Iran.[2]

[1]BBC: "a very British coup"

[2]CNN:"U.S. Comes Clean About The Coup In Iran", 04-19-2000.

Of course, speaking of history lessons, it would've been nice if the democrats running for president had made a passing refrence to Mossadeq in the debate this weekend, but perhaps that's expecting too much. A time travel-fantasy-- not 54 years, just a few hours, and me there in the audience, being given a chance to speak(and actually being miked by the teevee networks): I would say, when they failed to see why I wanted them to mention Operation Ajax and Mossadeqh, "but what about timeliness, and relevance?" And I imagine HRC and Obama just staring at me while the crickets chirped. Then after a sufficient pause, they'd go back to talking about why we need to stay in Iraq longer, and their avoidance of reminding people of the "off-the-table" discussion with respect to Iran would have nothing to do with the possible embarassment of the confluence with this particular anniversary, and (the apparently diminishing)possibility that bigshot lefty blogger might mention it. Nothing at all.

Meanwhile-- I've been working, off and on, on a couple of longer pieces, including one on the apparent build-up to war with Iran, which I mean to post in 2 or 3 days.

Incidentally, I didn't know about the BBC's complicity until I worked on this post. The link above also has another audio link to a radio program(-me) about their involvement, which is about 25 minutes long and pretty interesting.

About the BBC's code word: it was used in a sentence in a time check at midnight-- in other words, every midnight the announcer would say, "the time is midnight," except when he gave the signal to start the coup by saying "the time is exactly midnight."

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