from the book
The CIAs Greatest Hits
by Mark Zepezauer
The history of the CIA in Iran shows that
it isn't the failures of the agency we need to worry about, numerous
though they are. Its successes-and Iran is one of the biggest-are
far more dangerous.
The CIA did exactly what was asked of
it in Iran, deposing a mildly nationalist regime that was a minor
irritant to US policymakers. As a direct result, a fiercely nationalist
regime came to power 26 years later, and it's proved to be a major
irritant to the US ever since.
In 1951, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, "the
most popular politician in the country," was elected Prime
Minister of Iran. His major election plank was the nationalization
of the only oil company operating in Iran at that time-British
Petroleum. The nationalization bill was passed unanimously by
the Iranian Parliament.
Though Mossadegh offered BP considerable
compensation, his days were numbered from that point on. The British
coordinated an international economic embargo of Iran, throwing
its economy into chaos. And the CIA, at the request of the British,
began spending millions of dollars on ways to get rid of Mossadegh.
The CIA's plans hinged on the young Shah
of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, a timid and inexperienced figurehead. (He
was a mere shadow of his father, who had led a pro Nazi regime
during World War n. ) In 1953, with CIA backing, the Shah ordered
Mossadegh out of office and appointed a Nazi collaborator as his
successor. Demonstrators filled the streets in support of Mossadegh,
and the Shah fled to Rome.
Undaunted, the CIA paid for pro-Shah street
demonstrators, who seized a radio station and announced that the
Shah was on his way back and that Mossadegh had been deposed.
In reality, it took a nine-hour tank battle in the streets of
Tehran, killing hundreds, to remove Mossadegh.
Compared to the bloodshed to follow, however,
that was just a drop in the bucket. In 1976, Amnesty International
concluded that the Shah's CIA-trained security force, SAVAK, had
the worst human rights record on the planet, and that the number
and variety of torture techniques the CIA had taught SAVAK were
Inevitably, in 1979, the Iranian people
overthrew the bloodstained Shah, with great bitterness and hatred
toward the US for installing him and backing him all those years.
The radical fundamentalist regime that rules Iran today could
never have found popular support without the CIA's 1953 coup and
the repression that followed.