Mosaddegh and the CIA, 64 years later

The 64th anniversary of the coup that toppled Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh was Saturday, and rather than write another Deep Thought about that event and the impact it had on Iranian and world history, I thought–mostly because I am extremely swamped at the moment–that I would link you to this Foreign Policy piece which in turn links to a cache of CIA documents recently declassified that shed a considerable amount of light on the agency’s role in the coup:

Declassified documents released last week shed light on the Central Intelligence Agency’s central role in the 1953 coup that brought down Iranian Prime Minister Muhammad Mosaddegh, fueling a surge of nationalism which culminated in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and poisoning U.S.-Iran relations into the 21st century.

The approximately 1,000 pages of documents also reveal for the first time the details of how the CIA attempted to call off the failing coup — only to be salvaged at the last minute by an insubordinate spy on the ground.

I’ve only read a few of the CIA documents myself, but they establish a couple of things. For example, they conclusively show that the agency was intimately involved in the operation, contrary to its 60 year denial that it had anything to do with Mosaddegh’s ouster. They also make it quite clear that the whole affair was about one thing: oil, or specifically Mosaddegh’s decision to nationalize Iran’s oil.

As that FP piece notes, there’s another interesting revelation around the role of Ayatollah Abol-Ghasem Kashani, who supported Mosaddegh on nationalizing Iran’s oil but later fell out with the PM. It’s long been known that Kashani didn’t exactly oppose the coup, but these CIA documents show that Kashani was pretty intimately involved in the plot.

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