By Ged Quayle
Fifty years ago this year Britain and America overturned a democratically
elected government and installed their own puppet ruler, the Shah. In
1979 the people finally rose up and overthrew this most despised of regimes.
Into the vacuum stepped a religious government which had a memory of terror
and brutality, and a hatred of the Americans it blamed for it. Their leader
was the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Iran shares a border with Azerbaijan which was then part of the USSR (Soviet Union), and was neutral in the Cold War; the US found it easy to believe that Iran could fall to the communist threat. The CIA was ordered to undermine and overthrow Mossadegh’s government, giving power to the largely symbolic Shah of Iran. This they did, in an operation code named TP-AJAX and in 1953 Mossadegh was finally arrested. The Shah rewarded the US by allowing them free use of his country. The UK rewarded the US by giving them half of AOIC.
Under the Shah, using communism as an excuse, the secret police, the CIA trained SAVAK maintained one of the most brutal regimes in the world. By 1976 Amnesty International was describing Iran as having ‘the highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of civilian courts and a history of torture which is beyond belief. No country in the world has a worse record in human rights.’ Little wonder that the people they rebelled, against a man they saw as an American puppet.
One of the outstanding characteristics of the current conflict in the Middle East has been an almost blindness to Western crimes against the people of countries like Iran. Effigies of the US and the UK aren’t burned for something to do, there is real pain and real anger and we cannot contribute to a genuine peace in the Middle East until we accept how much we contributed to its anger.