Friday, February 22, 2008

From Persia to Iran: Part II

More slides of the country John McCain wants to "bomb, bomb, bomb..."

From Wikipedia:

In the early 1950s, there was a political crisis centered in Iran that commanded the focused attention of British and American intelligence outfits. In 1951 Dr. Mossadegh came to office, committed to re-establish the democracy, constitutional monarchy, and nationalizing the Iranian petroleum industry, which was controlled by the British. From the start he erroneously believed that the Americans, who had no interest in Anglo-Iranian Oil company, would support his nationalization plan. He was buoyed by the American Ambassador, Henry Grady. In the events, Americans supported the British, and fearing that the Communists with the help of Soviets were posed to overthrow the government they decided to remove Mossadegh from the office. Shortly before the 1952 presidential election in the US the British government invited Kermit Roosevelt of the CIA to London and proposed that they cooperate under the code name “Operation Ajax” to cause the downfall of Mossadegh from office.

In 1951, under the leadership of the nationalist movement of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, the Iranian parliament voted unanimously to nationalize the oil industry. This shut out the immensely profitable Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), which was a pillar of Britain's economy and political clout. A month after that vote, Mossadegh was named Prime Minister of Iran.

Under the direction of Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., a senior CIA officer and grandson of the former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, the CIA and British intelligence funded and led a covert operation to depose Mossadegh with the help of military forces loyal to the Shah, known as Operation Ajax. The plot hinged on orders signed by the Shah to dismiss Mossadegh as prime minister and replace him with General Fazlollah Zahedi, a choice agreed on by the British and Americans. Despite the high-level coordination and planning, the coup initially failed, causing the Shah to flee to Baghdad, later leaving for Rome. After a brief exile in Italy, the Shah returned to Iran, this time through a successful second attempt at the coup. The deposed Mossadegh was arrested, given 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.

With Iran's great oil wealth, Mohammad Reza Shah became the pre-eminent leader of the Middle East, and self-styled "Guardian" of the Persian Gulf. He became increasingly despotic during the last years of his regime. In the words a US Embassy dispatch, “The shah’s picture is everywhere. The beginning of all film showings in public theaters presents the shah in various regal poses accompanied by the strains of the National anthem… The monarch also actively extends his influence to all phases of social affairs…there is hardly any activity or vocation which the shah or members of his family or his closest friends do not have a direct or at least a symbolic involvement. In the past, he had claimed to take a two party-system seriously and declared “If I were a dictator rather than a constitutional monarch, then I might be tempted to sponsor a single dominant party such as Hitler organized”.

However, by 1975, he abolished the multi-party system of government so that he could rule through a one-party state under the Rastakhiz (Resurrection) Party in autocratic fashion. All Iranians were pressured to join in. The shah’s own words on its justification was; “We must straighten out Iranians’ ranks. To do so, we divide them into two categories: those who believe in Monarchy, the constitution and the Six Bahman Revolution and those who don’t… A person who does not enter the new political party and does not believe in the three cardinal principles will have only two choices. He is either an individual who belongs to an illegal organization, or is related to the outlawed Tudeh Party, or in other words a traitor. Such an individual belongs to an Iranian prison, or if he desires he can leave the country tomorrow, without even paying exit fees; he can go anywhere he likes, because he is not Iranian, he has no nation, and his activities are illegal and punishable according to the law”. In addition, the Shah had decreed that all Iranian citizens and the few remaining political parties must become part of Rastakhiz.