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50 years later, Iranians remember US-UK coup

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Iranians mourned this week the consequences of Anglo-American regime change as they marked the 50th anniversary of a CIA coup that toppled their democratically elected prime minister.

At a time when the United States has adopted a policy of preemptive action in its war on terrorists - and is portrayed here as encouraging student street protests - the 1953 overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh's government is taking on fresh relevance for some Iranians.

"This year, many political groups in Iran are showing more interest in the history of the [US-orchestrated] military coup," says Ibrahim Yazdi, a former foreign minister and leading member of a political party that traces its origins to Mossadegh's National Front. "Now it seems that the Americans are pushing towards the same direction again. That shows they have not learned anything from history."

Organized by the CIA and the British SIS to secure Iran's oil resources from a possible Soviet takeover and secure Iran's oil resources, the coup marked America's first intervention in the Middle East. Its aftershocks are still being felt.

The end of Iran's first democratic government ushered in more than two decades of dictatorship by Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, who relied on US aid and arms. The anti-American backlash in 1979 shook the whole region and helped spread Islamic militancy.

"If there had not been a military coup, there would not have been 25 years of the Shah's brutal regime, there would not have been a revolution in 1979 and a government of clerics," says Mr. Yazdi, who served briefly as foreign minister in the first cabinet after the fall of the Shah. "What we have now is a result of the coup."

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