Mossadegh, The Shah And The West

In the fifties, the second Shahanshah (or “King Of Kings” in Farsi) of the newly established imperial Pahlavi Dynasty in Iran finds himself confronted with an outstanding dilemma : the recently organized free and democratic elections resulted in the victory of the Iranian National Front of the very popular political leader Mohammed Hedayat known as Mossadegh. This man’s speech was that Iran’s petroleum was The Iranian People’s exclusive property without any other pretender to this title like were the British at the time who used to control the Iranian oil and the Iranian State benefiting only from the taxes the British oil companies used to pay as any other usual company. So we can notice that what wanted Mossadegh is to kick the British out by nationalizing all the oil reserves and oil-related facilities and by doing so the totality of crude oil export’s income would be benefiting the Iranian People. But although Mossadegh was democratically elected, it was not sure that Mohammed Reza Shah would choose him as Prime Minister because his actions would lead Britain to a full-scale war with Iran over who’s going to get the control of the very oil-rich Persian underground but if the Shah would please the British by choosing not to name Mossadegh as Prime Minister he would provoke the people’s anger as they chose that man and by extent they agree with his decision to nationalize the foreign-owned local oil industry. So there were two opinions in the Iranian imperial sphere ; either choose to go along with the popular choice and name Mossadegh and prepare to confront Britain or choose to name a pro-western prime minister and prepare to confront a popular uprising, some people even said at the Imperial Court that “it would better for the Crown to confront some angry, unorganised and weak mobs with forks rather than The British Navy and The Royal Air Force”. But the Shah chose to stand by his people’s side and named Mossadegh as Premier, the British accepted to negotiate the terms of their grip over Persian petroleum and accepted to reduce by half but this wasn’t enough for the Iranian Prime Minister who wanted to honour the promise he made to the People but the Shah this time had no choice but to refuse Mossadegh’s proposal to continue political and diplomatic struggle until obtaining what he wanted. The confrontation becoming more and more harsh, the finally became opponents on the Iranian political scene at such point that Mossadegh chose to take action first, rallied the Army to him and forced the Shah into exile. Mossadegh becoming more and more tied to the Soviets, the Americans decided to help the Shah regain power in his country for two purposes : ensuring that the USSR won’t get Iran as an ally at the West’s expense, kicking the British out of Iran and taking control over Iranian oil reserves. So in 1954, after several months of embargo, the Americans organized a fake popular uprising in Tehran by paying some popular political figures and providing them with weapons. This resulted in Mossadegh’s arrest and trial, he was condemned to capital punishment but was finally only jailed in order no to make of him a martyr to the eyes of his supporters. Since then, Mohammed Reza Shah became the closest ally of the US in the Middle-East, opening as such his country’s doors to US oil companies and initiating The White Revolution in the late sixties, early seventies having as a purpose to transform Iran into a Western-like country. This resulted in the 1979 Islamic Revolution led by The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeyni which will overthrow the monarchy and engage in a conservative religious-oriented revolution consisting in a coming back to the Muslim Traditionalist Way of Life in Iran. The Ayatollahs will ask the US to hand them the exiled former king, they will refuse and this will result in the famous US Embassy Crisis. Following this crisis, diplomatic relations between Iran and the US were cut and as such not only the Americans lost their best ally in the region, lost control over one of the most oil-rich undergrounds in the World but also the US Oil Companies present in Iran at the time lost oil-related infrastructure (refineries, wells, rigs, pipelines, offshore platforms etc.) worth billions of dollars.

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