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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Legacy of Greed

Thankfully Iranian authorities acted just in time to put a stop to it, thus avoiding a repeat of the 1979 US embassy takeover in the same city.
Iranians don’t like westerners much, do they. 

One reason may be is that Westerners throughout history have this habit of exploiting countries around the world for their own gain. Not because their very survival hinges on the raping and pillaging of other countries (especially in Asia); they do this because of old-fashioned greed; or enterprise, as some westerners call it.

Oil in Iran (or Persia, as the country was then known) was discovered in 1908 by a British geologist named George Reynolds who was working for William D’Arcy. 
The enterprising D’Arcy had previously arranged an oil concession with Shah Mozzafar al-Din Shah Qajar in 1901. A few months after the discovery of oil, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) was formed, and the game was on.  AIOC became a virtual cash cow for the British; a “source of national pride.” The British believed that “Persian petroleum was actually and rightly British petroleum because it had been discovered by the British, developed by British capital, and exploited through British skill and British ingenuity."
As for the Iranians, well, one would think that the discovery of ginormous amounts of oil in their country would make them wealthy, but tragically it didn’t.
Iran did try a few years later to renegotiate the concession with the British; unfortunately, Iran did not have the services of Daniel Webster.
In 1951, Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, who thought that the concession granted to AIOC was both “immoral and illegal,” became Prime Minister of Iran. Mossadegh then proceeded to nationalize AIOC, with the full backing of the Iranian Parliament. The move was enormously popular, as it was believed that income from oil could be used to eradicate Iran’s crippling poverty. 
Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh: also famous for pissing off the wrong people

In England, the move caused a great many teacups to rattle. The British went to their cousins across the Atlantic and together they hatched a plan to take back their “national pride,” and in the process remove the democratically-elected Mossadegh. 
Yes indeedy—the 50’s was a great era.

The coup was codenamed Operation Ajax. It was launched in 1953.

With MI6 and CIA in tandem, a pro-western monarchy was installed. An erstwhile constitutional monarchy was transformed into an authoritarian one. Mohammad-Rezā Pahlavi was now King (Shah), with all that title implies; albeit a king with an unholy alliance with the US and UK. 
I'd like to thank the MI6 and the CIA...

It was a successful coup for the British and the Americans. They took back the AIOC, and shares in the consortium were distributed among American and British firms and other countries who contributed to the success of Operation Ajax. 

Hey, to the victors belong the spoils, right?

Any person not blinded by greed (or “enterprise”) could have foreseen that this arrangement would not have lasted long without repercussions. 
In 1979, the inevitable happened. 
A revolution 25 years in the making exploded. The US Embassy in Tehran was occupied, with the embassy personnel held hostage for 444 days. The monarchy was deposed and Ayatollah Khomeini was installed. 
"America is the great Satan, the wounded snake."-Ayatollah Khomeini

As we can gather from the quote above, the Ayatollah was not exactly friendly towards the Americans and the British. 
The AIOC, and the subsequent coup, may have helped the British and the Americans control Iranian oil for a period of time, but they have also earned the eternal enmity of the Iranian people.

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