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From Shahs To The CIA: The History Of Western Intervention In Iran – Part 2


Tehran, 1953. A resident washes “Yankee Go Home” graffiti from a wall after the CIA-orchestrated coup which restored the Shah to power (Photo: Pahlavi Dynasty. Source: Wikicommons)

SEE ALSO: From Shahs To The CIA: The History Of Western Intervention In Iran – Part 1

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Zero Hedge

In part 1 we examined the early history of the West’s domination of Persian natural resources, especially the establishment and rise of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company which led to multiple 20th century British interventions in Iranian politics in an attempt to ensure permanent access to oil. Part 2 tells the story of Operation Ajax.  

“The Empire Must Go On”

Once Europe erupted in world war (WWI), the British dispatched their armed forced to refineries all over Iran in order to protect what they considered their property – Iranian oil.  After the cessation of hostilities in 1919, the British bribed and intimidated the new regime of Ahmad Shah into accepting the terms of the much hated Anglo-Persian Agreement which in all but name, made Iran a protectorate of the British Empire.  No longer would the Iranians control their own army, transportation system, and communications network.  It all passed under the control British occupiers and with it the last vestiges of Iranian sovereignty. This once again ignited the fervent nationalist spirit across Iran and new rounds of protests and opposition.

Even the U.S. president, Woodrow Wilson, disapproved of the agreement.  But, true to their colonial and imperialist spirit, the British rebuffed such protestations and opposition by saying, “These people have got to be taught at whatever cost to them, that they cannot get on without us.  I don’t at all mind their noses being rubbed in the dust.”  The empire must go on.

And go on it did, fueled by the black gold that flowed beneath the Iranian deserts. For the next thirty years, relations between the Iranians and the British revolved mainly around oil. The British deposed and installed new kings, and prime ministers and members of Iranian parliament were bought off to help ensure the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (by that time renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, or AIOC) had a free hand in the exploration, refining, and exportation of Iranian oil.  For that was indeed the bottom line for the British – the Iranian venture was extremely profitable for the them.

Churchill’s Dream Prize

Indeed, for Churchill, it was, “a prize from fairyland beyond our wildest dreams.” When they started in 1913, the British were extracting only 5,000 barrels of oils per day, and by 1950 they were extracting 664,000 per day.  Had the wealth from the oil been humanely shared with the Iranian people, the Iranians themselves likely would have seen such growth as part of a mutually beneficial relationship and endeared them to the English.  However, the long list of grievances hardened the hearts of the average Iranians and confirmed what they had long known: Britain was an empire whose only objective was preserving its interests, whatever the costs to Iranians, notwithstanding British protestations to the contrary…

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