Photo Credit: Twitter
Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh

This week marks the 65th anniversary of the August 15-19 1953 overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh (pronounced Mossadek), which was orchestrated by the UK and the US.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday commemorated the coup with a tweet accusing the US of attempting to once again topple the government of Iran using the proxy “Iran Action Group (IAG).” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced this month that the Iran Action Group will “lead the way in growing efforts with nations which share our understanding of the Iranian threat.”

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An author, administrator, lawyer, and prominent parliamentarian, PM Mosaddegh introduced a range of social and political actions such as social security, land reforms, and raising taxes, but his most notable policy, which inevitably led to his removal, was the nationalizing of the Iranian oil industry, especially the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later renamed British Petroleum and then just BP).

Mosaddegh was not necessarily a popular leader, incidentally, and his toppling was received with approval in Tehran and the rest of the country. The State Department maintained that Mosaddegh was overthrown by a popular uprising which started from the poorest districts of Tehran. Still, there’s no denying that the two Western superpowers collaborated to bring about the coup.

CIA officer Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., grandson of the late President Theodore Roosevelt, carried out the operation which had been planned by CIA agent Donald Wilber. Wilber referred to the operation as TPAJAX. Following the coup, General Fazlollah Zahedi formed a government which allowed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, to rule firmly as monarch, relying heavily on US support to hold on to power – until the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

“65 years ago today, the US overthrew the popularly elected democratic government of Dr. Mosaddegh, restoring the dictatorship & subjugating Iranians for the next 25 years,” FM Zarif tweeted, adding, “Now an ‘Action Group’ dreams of doing the same through pressure, misinformation & demagoguery. Never again.”

Despite its renewed sanctions against Iran, the Trump administration maintains that it’s not looking for regime change in Iran, only a “change in behavior.”

But Secretary Pompeo told a press briefing last week that the State Department’s director of policy planning, Brian Hook, will head the IAG and coordinate actions among various US agencies. “We’re committed to a whole-government effort to change the Iranian regime’s behavior, and the Iran Action group will ensure that the State Department remains closely synchronized with our interagency partners,” Pompeo said.

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