Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
2016 Failed Coup in Turkey, 2003 Bush Invasion of
Iraq, and 1953 Overthrow of Mossadaq in Iran Are All Hallmarks of
By Eric Walberg
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, August
|George Bush Jr's 2003
neo-imperialist 'Mission Accomplished' (aka destruction of Iraq)
||Eric Walberg in the collected
CIA documents in the nest of spies museum
1953 coup centerpiece for new
The coup d’état of the 28th of Mordad in Iran remained the centerpiece
for the new imperialism. It was only natural that the US embassy in Tehran
became a "nest of spies", as it has been dubbed since then, ‘mission control
center’ for all US espionage activity in the Muslim world. The following is
Mr. Walberg’s interview with the English section of
What made the US
orchestrate the coup d’état of the 28th of Mordad in Iran (August 19, 1953)?
It is important to follow the events in the region that the 1953 coup in
Iran was part of. Imperialism has gone through three distinct stages since
the term “Great Game” was coined in the nineteenth century to describe the
rivalry between imperialist powers, in the first place, Russia and Britain.
Imperial strategy was simpler then, but the basic elements were in place.
Britain sent spies disguised as surveyors and traders to Afghanistan and
Turkestan and, several times, armies to keep the Russians at bay. The
ill-fated Anglo-Afghan war of 1839–42 was precipitated by fears that the
Russians were encroaching on British interests in India after Russia
established a diplomatic and trade presence in Afghanistan. Already by the
nineteenth century there was no such thing as neutral territory. The entire
world was now a gigantic playing field for the major industrial powers, and
Eurasia was the center of this playing field.
The coup in 1953 in
Iran was a key move in what I refer to as Great Game II: the imperialist
powers, now united in a Cold War against socialism and third world
liberation, which went into high gear following WWII. As Great Game II
began, Soviet and British troops were still occupying Iran. Pro-Soviet
elements tried to seize power in the Soviet-occupied north and the Soviet
Union hoped that this movement would spread and bring Iran into the
anti-colonial camp. The Azerbaijan People’s Government and the Republic of
Kurdistan were declared in late 1945, but collapsed when the Soviet forces
retreated in 1946.
The communists (Tudeh Party) were killed, but
National Front Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh took a leaf from their book
and nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1951.
Labour government, betraying its socialist principles, demanded Great Game
I-style gunboat diplomacy--a coup to overthrow the democratically elected
prime minister. British minister of defense Emanuel Shinwell warned that if
tough action was not taken, “Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries would
be encouraged to think they could try things on; the next thing might be an
attempt to nationalize the Suez Canal.”
The CIA vetoed the plan, and
instead, organized and paid anti-Mossadegh protesters and street thugs to
riot, loot and burn mosques and newspapers in Tehran, leaving almost 300
dead. The CIA team, led by retired army general and Mossadegh’s former
interior minister Fazlollah Zahedi, mobilized a few pro-Shah tank regiments
to storm the capital and arrest Mossadegh on the pretext that he was a
Mossadegh was an avowed anticommunist, and thus, unlike
Cuba's Castor a few years later, was unable and unwilling to turn to the
Soviet Union for help.
The US and Britain re-installed the now
thoroughly discredited Shah junior, who dutifully continued the
secularization process begun by his father, and proceeded to run Iran as an
obedient, secular neocolony of the US, abandoning his father’s attempt to
retain a modicum of independence by playing off the imperial powers against
The weakness of Britain did not escape the notice of
Colonel Abdel-Nasser, who forced them out of Egypt in 1954 and nationalized
the Suez Canal in 1956, in a rare win for a periphery player in Great Game
II. Encouraged by their 'success' in Iran, British Prime Minister Anthony
Eden believed that a British-French-Israeli attack on Egypt would not only
remove Nasser, getting back the canal, but would also strengthen the British
position vis-à-vis the United States.
As early as 1954, Eden had
complained that the Americans “want to replace us in Egypt,” indeed, “they
want to run the world.” The British and French conspired behind the US back
and concocted a ruse—Israel acting on its own with Britain and France coming
in to mediate. But it fooled nobody, and the Eisenhower administration
forced a humiliating withdrawal on all parties, including—for the first and
last time—Israel. Britain once again had bow to US dictate, watching its
empire continued to slip away.
So the coup in Iran remained the
centerpiece for the new imperialism. It was only natural that the US embassy
in Tehran became a "nest of spies", as it has been dubbed since
Collected CIA documents in nest of spies museum
then, ‘mission control
center’ for all US espionage activity in the Muslim world. The Shah was the
most reliable US ally in the Muslim world, along with Turkey’s Kemal Ataturk
the only Muslim leader who recognized Israel.
Did US benefit from the coup d’état?
By reinstating the Shah and overthrowing the elected Prime Minister in
1953, the US was using Iran as a warning to other countries in the region to
obey the 'rules of the game'. But the coup was not an overwhelming success,
as subsequent events in Egypt in 1956 and Cuba in 1959 showed.
CIA was itself aware that the struggle in Iran was far from over. The coup
mastermind, CIA spy Donald Wilber, later wrote that the US actually despised
the Shah, that the coup was badly managed and would come back to haunt the
CIA in Cuba.
And in Iran. The US could not prevent the overthrow of
the Shah. Carter refused him asylum, and facilitated the return of Ayatollah
Khomeini to Iran in 1979, in keeping with the strategy that when a rupture
is imminent, it is best to try to control the outcome. To create a grateful
(and, hopefully, loyal) new proxy in the Great Game II war against
At the same time right next door to Iran, there was
another US scheme in full gear: funding Muslim fighters from around the
world to fight in Afghanistan, defeating the Soviet Union.
thus had very mixed results. Even as the US defeated the Soviet enemy
through the Afghan Islamic jihad next door, Iran had its own Islamic
revolution. Bush Sr's "New World Order" speech in 1991 would soon be
parodied by Bush Jr in Iraq, and Iran would continue to gain strength and
respect as the new centerpiece for anti-imperialism.
important is the 28th of Mordad coup d’état as a clear sign of US enmity
toward popular democracies and the people of Iran?
stands as one of the 20th century's most infamous example of the disregard
of the US and the West for genuine people's democracy.
At the same
time, the US was able to use its 'soft power' muscles against the democratic
forces in post-WWII Europe. They were pushed aside through the bribery of
the US-funded Marshall Plan, which undermined (blackmailed) progressive
governments, into towing the line.
An "Iron Curtain" was declared,
isolating the socialist countries, even though the Soviet Union had been
devastated in the war, and had done most of the fighting against the
As for Iran, it was denied the use of its oil and other
wealth to help its people. Instead, the Shah built a cruel fantasy world,
suppressing genuine Islamic thought, enthusiastically supporting the US and
Israel, isolating Iran from its natural allies in the Muslim world.
Can we compare the recent failed coup d’état in Turkey to the 1953
coup in Iran?
The logic of both coups follows the
logic of empire. Iran was forging a popular independent path in 1953.
However, Turkey turned to the US following WWII, as an anti-communism
bulwark, joining NATO and working closely with imperialism.
under Prime Minister Erdogan is, in important respects, forging a truly
independent path, criticizing the US on many issues, refusing to allow the
invasion of Iraq from Turkey in 2003, confronting Israel over the siege of
Gaza, working with Russia and Iran in defiance of US wishes, supporting the
genuine Islamists in Egypt after the 2011 Arab Spring, initially vetoing the
invasion of Libya and Syria.
But something changed in 2012. Erdogan
dropped his anti-NATO position, undermined the Syria government, supporting
the unsuccessful Syria rebels, increasingly dominated by Wahhabi followers
who morphed into the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant".
Wahhabists had learned from their US strategists' use of soft power. They
hijacked Islam to attract Muslims fed up with imperialist intrigues.
Radical, misguided youth from the West and Saudi Arabia flocked to
rebel-held areas in Syria and Iraq. ISIL has somehow managed to find funding
and arms, and continues its reign of terror today.
Erdogan is reaping
the whirlwind now. He jumped on the imperial tiger and came close to losing
everything, as happened in Iran in 1953. His mistakes had undermined him,
and his fellow Islamists, Gulen followers, were eager to work with
disaffected elements in the military and secular forces to overthrow the
headstrong prime minister.
So the situation is much less clear--more
hopeful--than in Iran in 1953. Erdogan has the chance that Mossadegh wasn't
given. If he acts resolutely and reinforces his alliance with Iran and
Russia before it is too late, he can save his Islamic democracy.
if he chooses to be an obedient servant of the US and Europe, this would
lead to the same results as if the coup had been successful, as happened
with the more dramatic return of the Shah to Iran in 1953. Soft power is
always preferable to 'hard power'.
So we must await further
developments in Turkey before assessing the results of the coup. Will
Erdogan stand firm on his principles, like Castro, Chavez, Morales, or, for
that matter, Putin? Or will he drift back into the NATO fold, letting the
coup forces triumph?
Ayatollah Khamenei believes that in the Islamic
Republic of Iran, launching a coup d’état is fruitless, considering the
fabric of the Islamic Republic. Why is it so?
Iran continues to
struggle under the intense efforts by the imperialists to subvert it, but
the Islamic revolution of 1979 has survived through resolute leadership.
First under Ayatollah Khomeini and, since 1989, Ayatollah Khameini. It
continues to progress economically and culturally, despite the hostility of
the empire. It is thanks to the truth of Islam, Iran's solid faith. That
alone can keep Iran out of the empire's clutches.
A shorter version
of this appears at
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