Iran/1953 coup d'état

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Event.png Iran/1953 coup d'état (coup,  US/Sponsored Regime-change efforts since 1945) Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
1953 coup d'etat.jpg
Date15 August 1953 - 19 August 1953
PerpetratorsCIA, MI6, Seven Sisters
Interest ofNorman Darbyshire, Charlotte Denett, Ann Lambton, Monty Woodhouse
DescriptionThe first of many large scale coups was carried out at the behest of big oil, by the CIA. The report of the inaugural Bilderberg next year termed this "firm Western action in Persia ... [that] had produced successful results."

Operation Ajax, headed by Kermit Roosevelt was the CIA's first large scale regime change operation - the first of many. It was initiated by the 1951 announcement of Mohammad Mosaddegh that he intended to cut the Seven Sisters oil profits by nationalising their operations in Iran.[1] It was approved by President Eisenhower on July 22, 1953.[2]

"A communist newspaper's office equipment is burned in the streets of Tehran on August 19, 1953, during the pro-Shah riot that swept through Iran's capital. After a day of fighting, Royalist forces triumphed and Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh was ousted. A declassified CIA document acknowledges that the agency was involved in the coup."[3]

Official narrative

For almost 50 years the official narrative was that MI6 and the CIA had nothing to do with the coup, which changed in 2000 when the US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright openly referred to the US role in the coup.[Where?] After 60 years, the CIA released documents which admitted that "The military coup... was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy".[4] It would be more correct to admit that it was "covertly organised by MI6 and the CIA"[5]. Averell Harriman went to Iran to negotiate an Anglo-Iranian compromise, asking the Shah's help; his reply was that "in the face of public opinion, there was no way he could say a word against nationalisation".


The coup's trigger is generally agreed to have been the nationalisation of the oil industry announced by Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1951. Charlotte Dennett notes that the coup was planned since this date and so the role of the Seven Sisters should not be underestimated.[6] As with the ensuing 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état, US "national security" appears to have overlapped very largely with the private commercial interest of the rich elite who were in a position to command the CIA. To see the coup as organised by MI6 or the CIA is therefore probably a mistake.


The now leaked report of the 1954 Bilderberg meeting noted that "Americans saw that firm Western action in Persia... had produced successful results and they therefore believed in continuing a firm policy."[7]


Related Quotations

1951“The oil cartel or deep state initiated in 1951 a process [to remove Mossadeq from power] that the American public state only authorised [through the CIA] two years later”Peter Dale Scott2015
Bilderberg/1954“Americans saw that firm Western action in Persia, Berlin, and Korea had produced successful results and they therefore believed in continuing a firm policy.”1954
Iran“Two years after Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh nationalized Iran’s oil industry that had been controlled by the company now known as British Petroleum a coup happened in Iran. “If nationalisation in Iran of oil was successful, this would set a terrible example to other countries where U.S. oil interests were present,” explains Ervand Abrahamian, Iranian historian and author of Oil Crisis in Iran: From Nationalism to Coup d’Etat and The Coup: 1953, The CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations. While the CIA has historically taken credit for Mosaddegh’s overthrow, “the British have not admitted their leading role,” notes Iranian filmmaker Taghi Amirani, whose documentary film Coup 53 uncovers the influence of MI6 agents who sought to preserve their imperial-era access to Iranian oil and pulled in the Americans by promising a “slice.” Seventy years later, says Amirani, “We are still living with the ripples of this disastrous event”Democracy Now!2023


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:The Coup in Iran 1953book extract12 February 2007Mark Curtis
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