What does history say about
"Iran Oil Nationalization"?

"Iran's Mohammed Mossadeq,
Feet first into chaos?"

This issue of Time has a picture of Dr. Mossaddegh on its cover page with the caption of: 
        "Iran's Mohammed Mossadeq,
Feet first into chaos?"

The cover story (pages: 29-35) is titled:
        "Dervish in Pin-Striped Suit".
This article while cannot deny the sincerity, modesty, and resolve of Dr. Mossaddegh (then prime minister) but it is basically hostile towards his leadership in nationalizing Iranian oil.
It expresses the fear of Western Europe and the US about losing the vital source of oil from Iran which it calls "the life-blood of industrial civilization" and gives some statistics under the title of
"Iran's Oil"
to justify that fear.

"MAN  OF  THE  YEAR 1951
He oiled the wheels of chaos."

This issue of has another picture of Dr. Mossaddegh on its cover page with and has chosen him as the man of the year 1951. The captions reads:
He oiled the wheels of chaos."

The cover story (pages: 18-21) is titled:
        "Challenges of  the East".

In this article, Time explains that Dr. Mossaddegh was chosen as the "Man of the Year" for his moral integrity and courage to stand up to the British and despite all the odds continue his campaign for nationalizing Iranian Oil. However, Time is amazed that Mossaddegh had not been dealt with by the British and the US.

It has an article on Mossaddegh titled:
        "Diplomacy by Blackmail".

Time starts its article by saying:
"The familiar deep voice of Premier Mohammed Mossadegh poured out from Radio Tehran one afternoon last week. For 90 minutes the wily old man rambled over the 19 months of Britain-Iranian oil negotiations, then reached his climax: "Iran has done her best, but the British government always obstructed a settlement. They [the British] have thus forced Iran to cut relations with them."
At the end it quotes Henry Grady, U.S. ambassador to Teheran for 14 months, saying:
 "Had Britain and the U.S. backed [General Ali] Razmara, the former Iranian Prime Minister who was a friend of the West and who was fighting the nationalization movement, this present situation would not have developed," Grady said in San Francisco. "Nor would Razmara have been assassinated."

What happened to Dr. Mossaddegh?
Photos from "Mossaddegh's Memoirs" edited by Homa Katouzian (1988)

Dr. Mossaddegh's democratic and national movement was crushed by foreign US and British Intelligence operators with a great help from some Iranian traitors.
Read the CIA-MI6 quo of Aug. 19, 1953 (28th of Mordad 1332) for more details.
The following photos show Dr. Mossaddegh  through the events of Oil Nationalization and its after math.

Click on images to see larger photos:

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28th of Mordad 1332
August 19, 1953 CIA Coup
against the elected government of  Dr. Mossaddegh
Diba & Mossaddegh in bed.

Written and photographed By Farhad Diba

All the Shah's Men:
An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror
a book by Stephen Kinzer
a noted New York Times journalist
icon of All the Shah's Men book

Editorial Review From Publishers Weekly:
With breezy storytelling and diligent research, Kinzer has reconstructed the CIA's 1953 overthrow of the elected leader of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, who was wildly popular at home for having nationalized his country's oil industry. The coup ushered in the long and brutal dictatorship of Mohammad Reza Shah, widely seen as a U.S. puppet and himself overthrown by the Islamic revolution of 1979. At its best this work reads like a spy novel, with code names and informants, midnight meetings with the monarch and a last-minute plot twist when the CIA's plan, called Operation Ajax, nearly goes awry. A veteran New York Times foreign correspondent and the author of books on Nicaragua (Blood of Brothers) and Turkey (Crescent and Star), Kinzer has combed memoirs, academic works, government documents and news stories to produce this blow-by-blow account. He shows that until early in 1953, Great Britain and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company were the imperialist baddies of this tale. Intransigent in the face of Iran's demands for a fairer share of oil profits and better conditions for workers, British Foreign Secretary Herbert Morrison exacerbated tension with his attitude that the challenge from Iran was, in Kinzer's words, "a simple matter of ignorant natives rebelling against the forces of civilization." Before the crisis peaked, a high-ranking employee of Anglo-Iranian wrote to a superior that the company's alliance with the "corrupt ruling classes" and "leech-like bureaucracies" were "disastrous, outdated and impractical." This stands as a textbook lesson in how not to conduct foreign policy.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Description:
This is the first full-length account of the CIA's coup d'etat in Iran in 1953—a covert operation whose consequences are still with us today. Written by a noted New York Times journalist, this book is based on documents about the coup (including some lengthy internal CIA reports) that have now been declassified. Stephen Kinzer's compelling narrative is at once a vital piece of history, a cautionary tale, and a real-life espionage thriller.

Review of
"All the Shah's Men"
by Dr. Masoud Kazemzadeh
icon of mossaddegh color photo

This paper was first published in Middle East Policy, Winter 2004.   Masoud Kazemzadeh, PhD is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Utah Valley State College.

In a part of his review, Dr. Kazemzadeh says:
"There is little doubt of the high quality of Kinzer's contributions. For example, The Economist selected this book as one of its ten "Books of the Year in 2003" in history; one of the principal textbooks in political science has quoted it as a main source on the 1953 coup; and many graduate and undergraduate courses in the United States and abroad have made it required reading. Kinzer's book was quickly translated into Farsi in Iran without the permission of the author. The translation was poorly done with self-censorship or state censorship of many passages."

For full text of his review, please see: Kazemzadeh's review of "All the Shah's Men".

On Point Icon for "All the Shah's Men"

On Wednesday, August 20, 2003,  Tom Ashbrook, the renowned host of a prestigious radio program in Boston called "on Point" had an intriguing interview with Stephen Kinzer about his book
"All The Shah's Men" which you can listen to at  Listen .


A brief on Iranian Oil Nationalization

(Note: This anonymous article which can be found on many sites on the Internet is NOT a good source on this subject because it is lacking many of crucial facts and has a biased view. However, it briefly describes the event and at least has its historical dates right.)

Dr. Mossaddegh
Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq
rom 1949 on, sentiment for nationalization of Iran's oil industry grew. In 1949 the Majlis approved the First Development Plan (1948-55), which called for comprehensive agricultural and industrial development of the country. The Plan Organization was established to administer the program, which was to be financed in large part from oil revenues. Politically conscious Iranians were aware, however, that the British government derived more revenue from taxing the concessionaire, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC--formerly the Anglo-Persian Oil Company), than the Iranian government derived from royalties. The oil issue figured prominently in elections for the Majlis in 1949, and nationalists in the new Majlis were determined to renegotiate the AIOC agreement. In November 1950, the Majlis committee concerned with oil matters, headed by Mosaddeq, rejected a draft agreement in which the AIOC had offered the government slightly improved terms. These terms did not include the fifty-fifty profit-sharing provision that was part of other new Persian Gulf oil concessions.

Subsequent negotiations with the AIOC were unsuccessful, partly because General Ali Razmara, who became prime minister in June 1950, failed to persuade the oil company of the strength of nationalist feeling in the country and in the Majlis. When the AIOC finally offered fifty-fifty profit-sharing in February 1951, sentiment for nationalization of the oil industry had become widespread. Razmara advised against nationalization on technical grounds and was assassinated in March 1951 by Khalil Tahmasebi, a member of the militant Fadayan-e Islam. On March 15, the Majlis voted to nationalize the oil industry. In April the shah yielded to Majlis pressure and demonstrations in the streets by naming Mosaddeq prime minister.

Oil production came to a virtual standstill as British technicians left the country, and Britain imposed a worldwide embargo on the purchase of Iranian oil. In September 1951, Britain froze Iran's sterling assets and banned export of goods to Iran. It challenged the legality of the oil nationalization and took its case against Iran to the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The court found in Iran's favor, but the dispute between Iran and the AIOC remained unsettled. Under United States pressure, the AIOC improved its offer to Iran. The excitement generated by the nationalization issue, anti-British feeling, agitation by radical elements, and the conviction among Mosaddeq's advisers that Iran's maximum demands would, in the end, be met, however, led the government to reject all offers. The economy began to suffer from the loss of foreign exchange and oil revenues.

Meanwhile, Mosaddeq's growing popularity and power led to political chaos and eventual United States intervention. Mosaddeq had come to office on the strength of support from the National Front and other parties in the Majlis and as a result of his great popularity. His popularity, growing power, and intransigence on the oil issue were creating friction between the prime minister and the shah. In the summer of 1952, the shah refused the prime minister's demand for the power to appoint the minister of war (and, by implication, to control the armed forces). Mosaddeq resigned, three days of pro-Mosaddeq rioting followed, and the shah was forced to reappoint Mosaddeq to head the government.

As domestic conditions deteriorated, however, Mosaddeq's populist style grew more autocratic. In August 1952, the Majlis acceded to his demand for full powers in all affairs of government for a six-month period. These special powers were subsequently extended for a further six-month term. He also obtained approval for a law to reduce, from six years to two years, the term of the Senate (established in 1950 as the upper house of the Majlis), and thus brought about the dissolution of that body. Mosaddeq's support in the lower house of the Majlis (also called the Majlis) was dwindling, however, so on August 3, 1953, the prime minister organized a plebiscite for the dissolution of the Majlis, claimed a massive vote in favor of the proposal, and dissolved the legislative body.

The administration of President Harry Truman initially had been sympathetic to Iran's nationalist aspirations. Under the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, however, the United States came to accept the view of the British government that no reasonable compromise with Mosaddeq was possible and that, by working with the Toudeh, Mosaddeq was making probable a communist-inspired takeover. Mosaddeq's intransigence and inclination to accept Toudeh support, the Cold War atmosphere, and the fear of Soviet influence in Iran also shaped United States thinking. In June 1953, the Eisenhower administration approved a British proposal for a joint Anglo-American operation, code-named Operation Ajax, to overthrow Mosaddeq. Kermit Roosevelt of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) traveled secretly to Iran to coordinate plans with the shah and the Iranian military, which was led by General Fazlollah Zahedi.

In accord with the plan, on August 13 the shah appointed Zahedi prime minister to replace Mosaddeq. Mosaddeq refused to step down and arrested the shah's emissary. This triggered the second stage of Operation Ajax, which called for a military coup. The plan initially seemed to have failed, the shah fled the country, and Zahedi went into hiding. After four days of rioting, however, the tide turned. On August 19, pro-shah army units and street crowds defeated Mosaddeq's forces. The shah returned to the country. Mosaddeq was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for trying to overthrow the monarchy, but he was subsequently allowed to remain under house arrest in his village (Ahmad Abad) outside Tehran until his death in 1967. His minister of foreign affairs, Hosein Fatemi, was sentenced to death and executed. Hundreds of National Front leaders, Toudeh Party officers, and political activists were arrested; several Toudeh army officers were also sentenced to death.

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