This Day In History, U.S. Overthrows Iran Gov’t

On this day, August 19, in 1953, the Americans and British overthrew the democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh. Mossadegh ended (BP) British Petroleum’s monopoly over Iranian oil, and *gasp* nationalized their oil fields so that Iranians would benefit from their own resources.

The Western powers, angry at being cut out of the oil money, and fearing the wave of anti-corporate sentiment would allow Iran to fall under Soviet influence, imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, plunging their people into poverty and the country into chaos. Then the UK and U.S. decided to stage a coup d’etat.

Operation Ajax, led by the CIA, deposed and imprisoned Prime Minister Mossadegh, and installed sympathetic general Fazlollah Zahedi in his place. Not only did BP retain a hold over Iran’s oil, but Shell oil and other corporations got a piece of the pie.

Imagine what could’ve happened if Mossadegh had succeeded? Democracy may have spread from Iran all over the Middle East.
We stopped democracy cold. We don’t want democracy in the region.

In 2000, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright issued an official U.S. apology to the Iranian people for the overthrow. “We deposed your democracy. Sorry about that.”

CIA documents about the coup were also released in 2000, and they contained the first use of the term “blowback.”
And man, was there major blowback from Operation Ajax. It created deep and lasting rage that led directly to the Iranian Islamic Revolution, and continues to be reflected in the body counts of U.S. troops in the various wars in the region since then.

Happy un-democracy anniversary, Iran!