This photo, depicting supporters of Iran's democratically elected (and Communist-leaning) primer minister, was reportedly taken in Tehran on August 16, 1953, by Dr. William Arthur Cram (reportedly an education officer at the US embassy in Tehran). The image was placed online by “The Guardian” on December 16, 2015. According to Mohammad Mossadegh.com, it depicts: “Throngs of Mossadegh supporters from various backgrounds out in force (a number of them are holding signs with his picture). Banners representing the Pan-Iranist Party, the Iranian People’s Freedom Party, and others are displayed…”


Despite evidence that regime-change in Iran would not succeed, CIA and SIS operatives continued to move forward with their objective. 

Among other things, they used Iranian agents - posing as Iranian communists - to antagonize the country's religious leaders.  The plotters' ultimate goal, on the religious front, was to have Iran's leading cleric declare a "Holy War" against communism.  The "Secret History" gives us the details:

In the field of political action, it was planned to send the Tehran cleric [name deleted] to Qum [an Iranian holy city] to try to persuade the supreme cleric, Ayatollah Borujerdi, to issue a fatwa (religious decree) calling for a holy war against Communism, and also to build up a great demonstration on Wednesday on the theme that it was time for loyal army officers and soldiers and the people to rally to the support of religion and the throne.   (Secret History, Chapter VII - "Apparent Failure" - page 57.)

Such an action, were it to occur, would cause the religious leaders to unwittingly aid the operatives' actions to oust Mossadeq (who already suspected that Brits and Americans were plotting against him).


Royalists in Tehran, on 19 August 1953, supporting the Shah's return from exile.  Photo, CIA, online courtesy the U.S. National Archives.


By the 19th of August - after several days of ups and downs - people in the streets backed the Shah and opposed Mossadeq.  The once-popular Prime Minister was arrested, charged with treason and tried in a military court.  Found guilty, he was sentenced to three years of solitary confinement, in prison.  House-arrest followed thereafter.


Mohammad Mossadeq, Iran's deposed Prime Minister, appears at his trial in a military court.  He was found guilty of treason following a coup against him.  Image online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


When Mossadeq developed cancer of the mouth, no one was allowed to visit him in the hospital.  His son, Gholam-Hossein, tells us that his father's end-of-life was pain-filled (especially from enlarged lymph nodes in his neck). 

After Mossadeq died - on the 5th of March, 1967 - the Shah refused the old man's last request.  Instead of burial in the cemetery of his choice, Mossadeq's remains were buried on the grounds of his home in Ahmad-Abad (northwest of Tehran, not far from the Caspian Sea).

From 1953 to 1978, Shah Reza Pahlavi ruled Iran.  A friend of Western powers, he held a firm grip on Iranian affairs.  Oil production resumed - via Anglo-Iranian Oil (later known as BP) and an "oil settlement" worked out after the coup - but Iran's share of the oil revenue was not fairly distributed among Iranians.  Friends of the Shah received a disproportionate share of the money.

Although he approved of Westernizing Iran, the Shah disapproved of Western-style dissent.  He would not allow protest rallies, and reports of human-rights violations were common.

During the ensuing years - from the time of the Mossadeq coup to the beginning of 1978 - it seemed that America and Iran were friends.  However ... as Iranian oil flowed to the West, Iranian anger simmered under the surface of the country's national consciousness.  The U.S. government may not have realized it, but its actions in ousting Iran's popular Prime Minister were never forgotten (or forgiven) by many Iranians. 

There was one Iranian, in particular, who believed that Western influence in his country was anathema.  To silence him, the Shah exiled Ayatollah Khomeini (first to Turkey, then to Iraq) in 1964.  

In late 1978, Saddam Hussein let it be known that he no longer wanted the Ayatollah in Iraq.  His message was straightforward - the cleric either leaves or is eliminated.

Not wanting a martyr on his hands, the Shah agreed Khomeini should be moved.  Instead of living in Iraq, where he had no access to journalists, Khomeini moved to a village home (in Neauphle-le-Château), about 19 miles outside of Paris. 

Now, with unfettered access to the world’s media, the Ayatollah was able to publicly state his ideas on many topics - including his deep aversion to the Shah and his Western-leaning government.

Then ... Jimmy Carter became America's President.  One of his main issues was ending the abuse of human rights, but one of the world's alleged violators - according to various reports - was America's ally (and Carter's friend) ... the Shah of Iran.

In early January, of 1978, President Carter was visiting Iran.  At a state dinner, held in his honor on New Year's Eve, the American praised the Iranian Shah for being a "stable" force in a troubled region. 

It would have been better - for both the President and his country - if he'd never made that trip and had never uttered those words.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 2012

Updated Last Revision: Jan 05, 2020

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"WHEN FRIENDS became ENEMIES" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 01, 2012. Jan 27, 2020.
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