1953- Mossadegh Ousted in Iran

Shah with LBJ

In the early 1950s, Iranian Premier Mohammed Mossadegh nationalized the Iranian oil industry, provoking a conflict with Britain. Amid international disputes and domestic tax reforms targeting the wealthy and royal family, the Shah was forced to flee. However, a counter-coup, orchestrated by U.S. and British intelligence, led to an uprising against Mossadegh. The Shah returned to power six days later, marking a significant shift in Iran's political landscape and its relation with foreign powers.

    In the early 1950s, Iran underwent a period of tumultuous transformation and socio-political change, largely initiated under the leadership of Premier Mohammed Mossadegh. A formidable advocate for national sovereignty and economic self-determination, Mossadegh is perhaps best known for the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry in 1951, a move that triggered an international crisis and eventually led to his downfall.

    Prior to 1951, the Iranian oil industry was primarily under the control of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), a British corporation that later became British Petroleum (BP). The presence and influence of foreign corporations, particularly in the oil sector, had been a cause for concern among Iranians, who felt that their nation's resources were being exploited by foreign powers. Frustration mounted as the Iranian people saw the profits from their most significant natural resource flowing into foreign coffers while domestic conditions stagnated.

    In response to these grievances, Mossadegh's government took a bold step. The Iranian government nationalized the oil industry, thereby wrenching control away from the AIOC. This was a groundbreaking act of defiance, representing a bold assertion of national sovereignty over Iran's natural resources. However, the move was not well-received by the British, who found their economic interests threatened.

    In retaliation, Britain appealed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), contending that the nationalization was a breach of the contractual agreement between Iran and the AIOC. After deliberation, the ICJ ruled in favor of Britain, further escalating the tensions between the two nations.

    The dispute raged on throughout 1952, with both sides refusing to budge. Iran was unbending in its decision, while Britain was steadfast in its demands. The standoff created an impasse, drawing global attention to the crisis.

    In the midst of this international dispute, Mossadegh began targeting wealthy Iranians for tax evasion in 1953. He implemented rigorous taxation policies to accumulate national revenue, as the British had imposed an international embargo on Iranian oil, crippling the country's economy. These policies adversely impacted the affluent in Iran, causing widespread dissent among the elite.

    Moreover, Mossadegh also targeted the royal family, attempting to curb their power and influence. His confrontational stance towards the Shah, the symbol of Iranian monarchy, was particularly significant.

    On August 16th, 1953, after a failed attempt to oust Mossadegh, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was forced to flee the country. The Shah's removal represented a pinnacle of Mossadegh's assertive policy. However, this victory was short-lived.

    Six days later, the tables turned dramatically. A covert operation, codenamed Operation Ajax, conducted by the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and British intelligence services, organized a counter-coup. They garnered support within the Iranian military and segments of the public, stirring an uprising against Mossadegh.

    In the face of this orchestrated revolt, Mossadegh was ousted from power. The Shah, the monarchy's symbol and a compliant ally to Western interests, was returned to power, marking the end of Mossadegh's political career and the beginning of a new chapter in Iran's political history.