Mossadeq’s great sin: he “broke the chains of
slavery and servitude to colonial interests”. US and Britain are
Nobody saw that coming. Trump ordering Qassim
Soleimani’s execution, I mean.
Nobody thought even he was quite so stupid.
It follows his last year’s caper when the “cocked and loaded”
drama-queen ordered military strikes against Iran’s radar and
missile batteries in retaliation for their shooting down of a US
spy drone. He changed his mind with only minutes to spare on
account of a reminder that such lunacy might actually cost human
Plus the fact that the drone was eight miles from the coast,
well inside the 12 nautical miles considered to be Iran’s
territorial waters under the UN Convention on the Law of the
Sea, and it clearly represented a military threat and
provocation. So he had no lawful claim of self-defence that
would justify a military attack. The United Nations Charter
allows only the use of military force in self-defence after an
armed attack or with Security Council approval. So his proposed
action would have been illegal as well as unwise, but none of
that seemed to enter into his calculations then, or now.
Before that we had Trump’s executive order in August 2018
re-imposing a wide range of sanctions against Iran after pulling
the US out of the seven-party nuclear deal for no good reason, a
spiteful move that annoyed the European Union and caused all
sorts of problems for other nations. And he was going to impose
extra sanctions aimed mainly at Iran’s oil industry and foreign
“If the ayatollahs want to get out from under the squeeze,”
warned US National Security Adviser John Bolton, “they should
come and sit down. The pressure will not relent while the
negotiations go on.” To which Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani,
responded: “If you stab someone with a knife and then you say
you want talks, then the first thing you have to do is remove
United Nations Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy described the
sanctions as “unjust and harmful… The reimposition of sanctions
against Iran after the unilateral withdrawal of the United
States from the Iran nuclear deal, which had been unanimously
adopted by the Security Council with the support of the US
itself, lays bare the illegitimacy of this action.”
The other parties to the nuclear deal – Russia, China, Germany,
France, the UK and the EU – vowed to stick with it and continue
trading with Iran,with some EU foreign ministers saying Iran was
abiding by the agreement and delivering on its goal when Trump
withdrew and they deeply regretted the new sanctions. Trump in
turn called Iran “a murderous dictatorship that has continued to
spread bloodshed, violence and chaos”. The irony of such a
remark was, of course, completely lost on him.
I read on 9 January that the EU “will spare no efforts” to keep
the nuclear deal with Iran alive, though I doubt if Boris
Johnson, passionate Zionist that he is, will be among them.
When it comes to aggression and dishonesty the US has form, and
lots of it. Who can forget during the Iran-Iraq war the cruiser
USS Vincennes, well inside Iran’s territorial waters,
blowing Iran Air Flight 655 to smithereens and killing all 290
passengers and crew on board? The excuse, which didn’t bear
examination afterwards, was that they mistook the Airbus A300
for an Iranian F-14 Tomcat manoeuvring to attack.
George H. W. Bush commented on a separate occasion: “I will
never apologise for the United States – I don’t care what the
facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.” Trump
seems to have caught the same disease. And, from the outside,
the White House itself seems home to the sort of “murderous
dictatorship” he describes.
The need to continually demonise Iran
When I say the West’s hatred of Iran, I mean primarily the
US-UK-Israel axis. Ben Wallace, UK Defence Secretary filling in
for Boris Johnson who had absented himself, has told Parliament:
“In recent times Iran has felt its intentions are best served
through… the use of subversion as a foreign policy tool. It has
also shown a total disregard for human rights.” This is amusing
coming from the British government and especially a Conservative
one which adores Israel, the world’s foremost disregarder of
human rights and international law.
Britain and America would like everyone to believe that
hostilities with Iran began with the 1979 Islamic revolution.
But you have to go back to the early 1950s for the root cause in
America’s case, while Iranians have had to endure a whole
century of British exploitation and bad behaviour. And the axis
want to keep this important slice of history from becoming part
of public discourse. Here’s why.
In 1901 William Knox D’Arcy obtained from the Mozaffar al-Din
Shah Qajar a 60-year oil concession to three-quarters of the
country. The Persian government would receive 16 per cent of the
oil company’s annual profits, a rotten deal as the Persians
would soon realise.
D’Arcy, with financial support from Glasgow-based Burmah Oil,
formed a company and sent an exploration team. Drilling failed
to find oil in commercial quantities and by 1908 D’Arcy was
almost bankrupt and on the point of giving up when they finally
struck it big. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company was up and running
and in 1911 completed a pipeline from the oilfield to its new
refinery at Abadan.
Just before the outbreak of World War I Winston Churchill, then
First Lord of the Admiralty, wished to convert the British fleet
from coal. To secure a reliable oil source the British
government took a major shareholding in Anglo-Persian.
In the 1920s and 1930s the company profited hugely from paying
the Persians a miserly 16 per cent and refusing to renegotiate
terms. An angry Persia eventually cancelled the D’Arcy agreement
and the matter ended up at the Court of International Justice in
The Hague. A new agreement in 1933 provided Anglo-Persian with a
fresh 60-year concession but on a smaller area. The terms were
an improvement but still didn’t amount to a square deal for the
In 1935 Persia became known internationally by its other name,
Iran, and Anglo-Persian changed to Anglo-Iranian Oil. By 1950
Abadan was the biggest oil refinery in the world and the British
government, with its 51 per cent holding, had effectively
colonised part of southern Iran.
Iran’s tiny share of the profits had long soured relations and
so did the company’s treatment of its oil workers. Six thousand
went on strike in 1946 and the dispute was violently put down
with 200 dead or injured. In 1951 while Aramco was sharing
profits with the Saudis on a 50/50 basis, Anglo-Iranian declared
£40 million profit after tax and handed Iran only £7 million.
Iran by now wanted economic and political independence and an
end to poverty. Calls for nationalisation could not be ignored.
In March 1951 the Majlis and Senate voted to nationalise
Anglo-Iranian, which had controlled Iran’s oil industry since
1913 under terms frankly unfavourable to the host country.
Social reformer Dr Mohammad Mossadeq was named prime minister by
a 79 to 12 majority and promptly carried out his government’s
wishes, cancelling Anglo-Iranian’s oil concession and
expropriating its assets.
His explanation was perfectly reasonable…
For this he would be removed in a coup by MI5 and the CIA,
imprisoned for three years then put under house arrest until his
Britain was determined to bring about regime change, so it
orchestrated a world-wide boycott of Iranian oil, froze Iran’s
sterling assets and threatened legal action against anyone
purchasing oil produced in the formerly British-controlled
refineries. The Iranian economy was soon in ruins. Sounds
familiar, doesn’t it?
America was reluctant at first to join Britain’s destructive
game but Churchill (prime minister at this time) let it be known
that Mossadeq was turning communist and pushing Iran into
Russia’s arms at a time when Cold War anxiety was high. That was
enough to bring America’s new president, Dwight Eisenhower, on
board and plotting with Britain to bring Mossadeq down.
Chief of the CIA’s Near East and Africa division, Kermit
Roosevelt Jr, played the lead in a nasty game of provocation,
mayhem and deception. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi signed two
decrees, one dismissing Mossadeq and the other nominating the
CIA’s choice, General Fazlollah Zahedi, as prime minister. These
decrees were written as dictated by the CIA.
In August 1953, when it was judged safe for him to do so, the
Shah returned to take over. Mossadeq was arrested, tried, and
convicted of treason by the Shah’s military court. He remarked:
His supporters were rounded up, imprisoned, tortured or
executed. Zahedi’s new government reached an agreement with
foreign oil companies to form a consortium to restore the flow
of Iranian oil, awarding the US and Great Britain the lion’s
share – 40 per cent going to Anglo-Iranian. The consortium
agreed to split profits on a 50-50 basis with Iran but refused
to open its books to Iranian auditors or allow Iranians to sit
on the board.
The US massively funded the Shah’s government, including his
army and his hated secret police force, SAVAK. Anglo-Iranian
changed its name to British Petroleum in 1954. Mossadeq died on
5 March 1967.
The CIA-engineered coup that toppled Mossadeq, reinstated the
Shah and let the American oil companies in, was the final straw
for the Iranians. The British-American conspiracy backfired
spectacularly 25 years later with the Islamic revolution of
1978/9, the humiliating 444-day hostage crisis in the American
embassy and a tragically botched rescue mission.
Smoldering resentment for at least 70 years
And all this happened before the Iran-Iraq war when the West,
especially the US, helped Iraq develop its armed forces and
chemical weapons arsenal which were used against Iran. The US,
and eventually Britain, leaned strongly towards Saddam in that
conflict and the alliance enabled Saddam to more easily acquire
or develop forbidden chemical and biological weapons. At least
100,000 Iranians fell victim to them.
This is how John King, writing in 2003, summed it up:
And while Iranian casualties were at their highest as a result
of US chemical and biological war crimes, what was Trump doing?
He was busy acquiring the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Trump
Castle, his Taj-Mahal casino, the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan – oh,
and he was refitting his super-yacht
Trump Princess. What does he know, understand or care about
Iran and the Iranian people today?
On the British side our prime minister, Boris Johnson, was at
Oxford carousing with fellow Etonians at the Bullingdon Club.
What does he know or care?
The present Iranian regime, like many others, may not be
entirely to the West’s liking but neither was Mossadeq’s
fledgeling democracy nearly 70 years ago. If Britain and America
had played fair and allowed the Iranians to determine their own
future instead of using economic terrorism to bring the country
to its knees, Iran might have been “the only democracy in the
Middle East” today.
So hush! Don’t even mention the M-word: MOSSADEQ.