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The Myth of the CIA’s Meddling in Iran’s 1953 Coup

July 17 2017

In 1953, a failed coup in Persia, aimed at ousting Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq, was launched with the support of U.S. and British intelligence. Shortly thereafter, the Iranian military deposed Mossadeq successfully. According to the version of events later cited by Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Barack Obama, as well as by propagandists of the Islamic Republic, the coup was an Anglo-American plot that overthrew the duly elected government of Persia. But, writes Ray Takeyh, this version mainly from a self-aggrandizing memoir by the CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt. Newly released documents—whose declassification was delayed by John Kerry—tell a very different story:

Even before Western intelligence services devised plots against Mossadeq, his party [had] started to crumble. . . . [T]he armed forces, which had stayed quiet despite Mossadeq’s purges, grew vocal and began to participate in political intrigues.

Among Iran’s factions, the clergy would play the most curious role. As it has with most historical events, the [post-1979] Islamic Republic has whitewashed the role that the mullahs played in Mossadeq’s downfall. . . . [The Mossadeq government’s] liberal disposition . . . had unsettled the clerical order. . . . As large landowners, the mullahs distrusted governments prone to carving out their property. As reactionaries, they disdained female equality in all its forms. And as guardians of tradition, they were averse to modernization of Iran’s educational sector. . . . Far from being a passive observer, the priestly class seemed to have made its preferences clear. . . .

[Furthermore], it was hard to see how then-President Eisenhower could take advantage of Mossadeq’s mishaps . . . when he was informed by his intelligence services that the “CIA presently has no group which would be effective in spreading anti-Mossadeq mass propaganda.” . . .

In August 1953, the Iranians reclaimed their nation and ousted a premier who had generated too many crises that he could not resolve. . . . Mossadeq’s unpopularity and penchant toward arbitrary rule had left him isolated and vulnerable to a popular revolt. America might have been involved in the first coup attempt that failed, but it was largely a bystander in the more consequential second one.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: CIA, History & Ideas, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy, United Kingdom

In Dealing with Iran, the U.S. Can Learn from Ronald Reagan

When Ronald Reagan arrived at the White House in 1981, the consensus was that, with regard to the Soviet Union, two responsible policy choices presented themselves: détente, or a return to the Truman-era policy of containment. Reagan, however, insisted that the USSR’s influence could not just be checked but rolled back, and without massive bloodshed. A decade later, the Soviet empire collapsed entirely. In crafting a policy toward the Islamic Republic today, David Ignatius urges the current president to draw on Reagan’s success:

A serious strategy to roll back Iran would begin with Syria. The U.S. would maintain the strong military position it has established east of the Euphrates and enhance its garrison at Tanf and other points in southern Syria. Trump’s public comments suggest, however, that he wants to pull these troops out, the sooner the better. This would all but assure continued Iranian power in Syria.

Iraq is another key pressure point. The victory of militant Iraqi nationalist Moqtada al-Sadr in [last week’s] elections should worry Tehran as much as Washington. Sadr has quietly developed good relations with Saudi Arabia, and his movement may offer the best chance of maintaining an Arab Iraq as opposed to a Persian-dominated one. But again, that’s assuming that Washington is serious about backing the Saudis in checking Iran’s regional ambitions. . . .

The Arabs, [however], want the U.S. (or Israel) to do the fighting this time. That’s a bad idea for America, for many reasons, but the biggest is that there’s no U.S. political support for a war against Iran. . . .

Rolling back an aggressive rival seems impossible, until someone dares to try it.

Read more at RealClear Politics

More about: Cold War, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Ronald Reagan, U.S. Foreign policy