Academic coup

When "great" scholars play a deadly role


Academic coup
by Fariba Amini

While doing a project recently, I was reading about the 1953 coup again. Every time I read the details, of how a man was undermined by national and international forces determined to bring him down, it brings tears to my eyes, even though the events took place two generations ago, at a time when I was not even born.

For as long as I can remember, I have always lived in the shadow of Mossadegh, the idol of my father. As I got older and started reading more about this visionary man, I became more than just a sympathizer. I came to believe that he was ahead for his time. As time went on, my admiration for his democratic principles only grew.

As I read through the pages of history books, I came to conclude that the advice of "wise men and women," foreign experts on Iran and its politics, had played a role in the decision of the major powers, Great Britain and the US, to bring him down. Various names come to mind: Zahner, Wilber, and Lambton. Robin Zahner, who was at Oxford, and fluent in Persian became a major player in this scheme. Profoundly religious and known to have experimented with drugs and an alcoholic, he was a covert operative for the British intelligence.

Donald Wilber, who had earned a doctoral degree in architecture at Princeton, had worked extensively in Iran and the Middle East during World War II and was stationed in Iran working for OSS, the predecessor of the CIA, specializing in psychological warfare. As for Ann (Nancy) Lambton, she played a much more decisive role in this whole affair. She was the expert and the foreign analyst who advised the British government, worked in high circles and recommended that no compromise with Mossadegh was to take place under any circumstances.

"Having failed to persuade Attlee to order an invasion, Morrison decided to begin covert action. He turned first to two distinguished scholars who had spent years studying Iran and where sympathetic to the British position there. The first, Ann K. S. Lambton, who had been press attachÈ at the British Embassy in Tehran during World War II and gone on to become one of Britain's leading scholars of Iran. At Morrison's request, she began suggesting 'effective lines of propaganda' that the British might use to turn the Iranian public opinion against Mossadegh." (Stephen Kinzer, All the Shah's Men: an American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, 2003)

"The British, determined to undermine Mossadeq from the day he was elected premier, refused to negotiate seriously with him. For instance, Professor Lambton, serving as a Foreign Office consultant, advised as early as November 1951 that the British government should persevere in 'undermining' Mossadeq, refused to reach an agreement with him, and reject American attempts to find a compromise solution. 'The Americans,' She insisted, 'do not have the experience or the psychological insight to understand Persia.'" (Ervand Abrahamian, Khomeinism: Essays on the Islamic Republic, 1993)

Most of the key players have since died, but she is still around, living in the English countryside. Although she is now very old, she has never publicly acknowledged her role in the 1953 coup. Maybe she is just too ashamed.

She saw Mossadegh as a danger! Yes, indeed he was dangerous to their plans of bloody greed and power. But who was he really? He was a man who had studied law in the West, had a doctoral degree, and had written his thesis on "the law of inheritance in Shi'a Islam." He came from the nobility yet opposed it, had been imprisoned by Reza Shah for opposing the latter's dictatorial decrees and he truly and genuinely believed in democracy, the kind of government his British and American opponents supposedly supported as well and claimed for their home counties. He believed in a free press, a vital component of democracy, but the Iranian, British and American collaborators used that same press to discredit and defame him. They used the press, bribing journalists, and lied to the Iranian people and the world at large about him. So why were they so adamant to destroy him and his government? Was he not corruptible enough for them? Or was he too smart for his own good? The men they helped bring to power in Iran were nothing like him. General Zahedi was an uneducated, greedy crook, a Nazi sympathizer, a womanizer and and a murderer. (It is alleged that he was involved in the murder of Afshartoos, Mossadegh's head of the police and security apparatus.) The Shah and his family were utterly corrupt. The rest is history, a very sad history for Iran.

Sadly enough, Lambton was rewarded for her treacherous role. Immediately after the coup, while an honorable man was put on trial for "treason" and sent to prison and the real traitors occupied the seats of power, Ann Lambton became the chair of Persian at the University of London in 1953, and an honorary degree was bestowed upon her that same year. Later on, she received more honorary degrees from different British universities. I sometimes wonder, if history had unfolded differently, how many honorary degrees would Mossadegh have received from academic institutions around the world?

Alas, he spent the rest of his life as a prisoner in his own house. While Lambton and her masters basked in the glory of having gotten rid of a dangerous man, Mossadegh was not even allowed to leave his home until his death. He once told my father, one of the few people who were allowed to visit him that the Americans would have never acted alone if they had not been pressured by the British. Sadly enough, when he asked the Eisenhower administration for economic aid, while his government was under tremendous pressure and Iran suffered crippling sanctions, he was turned down. By that time the Americans and the British formed one united front against Mossadegh.

"Nancy Lambton believed that covert operations to overthrow Mossdeq would be the only way to achieve a stable and pro-Western government in Iran; and she not only moved in high circles within the Foreign Office but was a friend of Anthony Eden." "In her view, the 'stupidity, greed and lack of judgment by the ruling classes in Persia' caused the government to be corrupt and parasitic."

In a biographical note preceding her latest article, published in 2001 in the Durham Middle East papers, there is no reference to her role in the treacherous affair. Was she too ashamed or afraid of the consequences? But here is what is written about her on Wikipedia under her name: "Ann Lambton played a role in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh. After the decision to nationalize Iran's oil interests, she advised the British government to undermine the authority of Mossadegh's regime. She suggested Oxford University professor R. C. Zaehner to go to Iran and begin covert operations. With the help of the CIA, the regime of Mossadegh was overthrown and the Shah of Iran was in power."

What to say about a person like her or those who have since served Presidents and heads of states with their ill advice? I believe individuals like her must have deep rooted complexes, no personal life, no human emotions, to have come up with such schemes and lies to destroy a man who desired nothing more than honor for his people. All he wanted was the same things that the English or Americans enjoy in their countries.

How ironic it is that fifty-five years after that shameful event and after all the attempts by the Shah and the current clerical regime to erase his name from the pages of history, Mossadegh remains the most respected politician of Iran. Even today, at student demonstrations in Iran, Mossadegh's photos are exhibited as a symbol of democracy. Do these scholars in the field ever ask themselves why? Or were greed and hegemony too precious to give up?

"Lambton's view of Mosaddeq as a dangerously irrational, anti-British nationalist also found expressions in minutes written. {she} characteristically urged the Foreign Office To boycott Mosaddeq as far as possible and to deal with him only when necessary to preserve public order." (Wm. Roger Louis, "Britain and overthrow of Mosaddeq," in Mark J. Gasiorowski and Malcolm Byrne, eds., Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran, 2004).

Because of such individuals, so-called academicians who give policy advice to their governments, men and women's lives are destroyed all over this globe. They no doubt think of themselves as brilliant, churn out new books every year, prosper in their fields, but they are nothing but pitiful figures. They will not go down in history as individuals who made the world a better place but as actors who helped make history take a turn for the worse. In the case of Iran, this meant a change from an incipient democracy to a dictatorship and now a theocracy.

Today, the likes of Ann Lambton, accomplished and celebrated scholars offering policy advice, are still with us, this time in the form of those who advised G.W. Bush to go to war in Iraq. One stands out, Princeton Professor Emeritus in Middle East history, Bernard Lewis. A former British national and member of MI6, Lewis was a mentor to another highly regarded academic, former US Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, who left the World Bank in shame and is currently a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute . Bernard Lewis visited the White House on many occasions, purveying his conviction that Iraq, turned into a democracy would be a beacon for the Middle East at large, causing the dominoes to fall.

Ironically, Bernard Lewis and Ann Lambton edited quite a few articles together!

Others may disagree, but I do not find these people particularly brilliant and certainly not accomplished. For all their scholarly insight, they totally misread the realities of Middle East and in the end did not necessarily serve their own countries' interests.

Moreover, Ann Lambton does not personify the best in moral values even if she claims to be a devout Christian.

There is a fine line between being responsible and being a great scholar. Certainly, responsibility rests with those who suggest change but their distorted analyses and perverse recommendations result in consequences that are more disastrous. The current situation in the Middle East is testimony to their miscalculations.

Finally, Mossadegh was everything that they will never be.


Recently by Fariba AminiCommentsDate
Forgotten Captive
Nov 27, 2012
The Bride and the Dowry
Nov 27, 2012
Enemy Number One?
Sep 07, 2012
more from Fariba Amini

Thank you Mammad for your

by ferdos (not verified) on

Thank you Mammad for your comment and support.
Sometimes, I wonder why I even write because when I see such horrible personal attacks, I feel like not only we were not ready for someone like Mossadegh who genuinely believed in and advocated a free press, we are still not ready. Alas, it is a trait of our culture, we have not yet learned that we can have different opinions but still be civil.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on IR's 29 years of human rights abuses which was posted on the Guardian website. After 503 comments, I was told I was anti- Iran and wanted Iran to be attacked!! and that I was a tool of the US!

Today I am being attacked for being an IR supporter, a communist people argue that my family deserves to be put on trial.
So which one is it?!!! I know where I stand, on the side of truth, even if this truth hurts many of us.

I am also glad JJ has deleted some disgusting comments. He has every right to do so; those who abuse a public forum by insulting others, have no place here.

We do have a saying in Persian,
Adab az Ke amoukhti, Az bee adaban.


Fariba Amini

by MRX1 (not verified) on

for how long are you going to milk mossadegh's name in anything that you write ? It’s getting really boring...

I tell you what, why don't you write about forouhar, bazargan, sanjabi, and the rest of the traitors of national front including folks like your father and tell us how they sold our country to bunch of filthy illiterate islamo fascists just so they can become ministers or governors in their lousy stinky life!


This is great! Who deleted

by Fatollah (not verified) on

This is great! Who deleted my post! I am sure, truth hurts.
Who did delete my post, JJ or Fariba? I guess, Nothing is sacred anymore!


Mosadeq and all his followers

by Anonymous^3 (not verified) on

including all these pseudo-AN_tellectuals like Fariba Amini and her obsolete family need to get job and stop being a burden on the American tax payers!?


Still living in denial

by Mammad (not verified) on

First of all, thank you Ms. Amini for an excellent article.

The people who responded to Ms. Amini's article can, in my opinion, be divided into three groups:

1. Those who liked it (like yours truly). No more explanation needed.

2. Those who, instead of commenting, including criticizing, the article itself, attacked Ms. Amini, and reminded her of the crimes of the IRI. True, the IRI has committed too many crimes, but what do they have to do with the article?

Besides, such people forget about the direct role of the Shah himself in creating the monster of Velaayat-e Faghih. It was the Shah's repressive regime that eliminated all secular forces. It was the Shah's regime that was after leftists, nationalists, and even moderate religious nationlists like the Freedom Movement which, by jailing/killing/exiling their leaders, did not allow the society to develop politically.

3. Those - mostly monarchists, either overtly, or by being shy and coy about it - who deny that the 1953 events were a foreign-sponsored coup.

People like Dariush Kadivar have been advocating Reza Pahlavi as a "catalyst" for years, without knowing what a catalyst is. Thus, they try to take a "fair" position - yes, Dr. Mosaddegh was a good man, but ,... So, let's restore the Pahlavis!

Others, like Farhad Kashani, stick to the absurd and imaginary theory that the US only "advised" the Shah to go ahead with the coup. The Shah himself said otherwise. The US itself has stated otherwise. Yet, we are to believe the absurd notion of "advice."

But, let's do: How come the Shah sought out the "advice" of two imperialist powers, and did not listen to what people wanted, so that he was forced 25 years later to say on national radio, "I heard your revolutionary voice"? Kashani demands "proof." I guess thousands of pages of books, analysis, etc., plus the confessions of the Shah himself and the perpetrators do not rise to the level of "proof." Some high standards!

What about the role of "millions" of people demanding the return of the Shah? First of all, there were not millions. Only thousands by all accounts. Secondly, they were mob led by people like Sha'ban Jafari, the Rashidian brothers (well-known agents of MI6), and so on. Third, even if we believe they were all patriots, we forget one indisputable fact: common people must be educated and led by leaders. But, what leaders did we have? Fazlollah Zahedi who was pro-Nazis and had been exiled by the British, and then turned into a British agent; Abolghasem Kashani, for whom being the leader was more important than seeing the nationalization movement succeed, and so on. Taking the superficially "moralistic" position that "we are responsible" does not do it.

Yes, we should forgive, BUT WE SHOULD NEVER FORGET. Those who forget such epic events in the history of a nation like Iran, will repeat the mistakes.

Learn from Jewish people. Over 60 years after the Holocaust, a crime against humanity, they remind the world every single day about it. Who says that Iran's rape by the CIA-MI6 coup was not a crime against humanity, which still takes victim today?


You Are Out of It Mr. Kadivar

by Yek Irani (not verified) on

This is a statement from Mr. Kadivar’s post: “The passionate approach of looking at the events of the 1953 coup seems to me a little obsolete more than half a century later”. No Mr. Kadivar, the 1953 event should never be forgotten. This event changed the natural course of Iranian history. The thing that is obsolete is your brain.


Fariba Chereek, Shame on you...

by Patient Man (not verified) on

Fariba Amini and her ilk family stood by and cheered while the Khomeini thugs massacred thousands of people in Iran during 1979-1980. Fariba Amini was, is, and will always be a communist. On day, the patriotic people of Iran will bring the treasonous and corrupt Amini family to justice or bring justice to them.


I agree with Darius, yes we

by ferdos (not verified) on

I agree with Darius, yes we must go on and forget and forgive, though we must always learn from the past and not let mistkes happene again again.

I am willing to move forward but unfortuntately, scholars are to this day giving ill adivce to certain powers who want to have regime change at any expense, i.e. Iran, Iraq etc.

As for my father, it is unfair to judge a man who gave service to his country for nealy 70 years. he was the first governor who took his resgination to Khomeini and told him that he cannot work under lawlessness. He also singlehandedly stood up against Khalkhali and his gangs who wanted to destroy Perserpolis. He was and is a man of honor. He was against the misuse of power by the clerical regime from day one and he resigned after one month.

I am not a spokesperson for Mossadegh. Nor am I a family member. I am simply a sympathizer. I think in his short time as Prime Minister, he was his best spokesperson. I just want to remind people that there is a reason, everyone, inclduing Iranians who took bribes, the Rashidians, Kashani, many other traitors inclduding Iranian agents working for intelligence services were adamant in undermining his government. Greed and power was on their mind. Mossadegh's actions and how he defended his nation viv a vis the superpowers and his passionate defense at the Hague speaks volume. What did he do wrong?

at the end, I don't think anyone should use someone else's name. and certainly not well known invididuals who are sitll living in Iran and under risk danger. finally civility in dialogue is the only way. some comments which have been deleted now were disgraceful. personal attacks, by a few iranians to discredit a person, is out of line.


a lamb for british manipulaton?

by Anonymous, the great (not verified) on

Lambton may continue live as a little lamb, but Massdagh lived and will be remembered as a lion, figuratively, making the history that the little lambtons and lamb-wanna-bes can try to re-write and recite in various dialects. Was she on the ships that we banished from Iranian soil or did she help bring back to be re-filled?


Lambton LIVES ON but Mossadegh is DEAD!

by Anglophile (not verified) on

Professor A K S Lambton is the most distinguished and most respected living authority on Iran and Persian History. Now in her mid nineties she speaks in more than 25 local persian dialects and is a living encyclopaedia of Iran's contemporary politcal history. Her legacies are her volumes of research and scholarly work which are used by the Persian scholars all over the world forever. But as for, that man, he was a victim of his own greed for power and selfishness.
Long may Live Lambton.


He lives in our souls and minds, Mossadegh, The Great

by Anonymous, the great (not verified) on

Like popular commercial in the US:

You should have had a V-8, and us Iraians could have had a democracy under Dr. Mossadegh, (the Great!). We opted or were force fed a glorified glass of wine which ofcourse soured and had no substance from the beginning, or especially at the beginning (shah's regime), and now different versions of shit are being prepared for us, at times sweetened to numb our perception for give false hope. Supporting democracy in 1953 could have given Iran a rightful place as a thought leader in the ME, promoted property rights, democracy (maybe), and avoided the hostilities against the West from that overall region. No, the West did want to empower us with a fortified drink, but we know the difference - that is what matters, and makes the difference.

programmer craig

To: Ajam

by programmer craig on

<i>Shah, who delightfully basked in the new fortune his anglo-American patrons had afforded him</i>


I don't think the term "Anglo-American" means what you think it does. Unless you think the Shah's patrons were Americans of English descent?


Poetic justice!

by Ajam (not verified) on

As the old Persian saying goes "nish-e aghrab na as rah-e kin ast, blakeh eghtezaa-ye tabi'atash in-ast..." The likes of A. Lambton have a job to do. It's just business nothing personal! They might even burst into tears watching Bamby, but as a corporate-person does, when at work, they take on a totally different set of ethics.

Oil has been and, for the foreseeable future, will be the main strategic global staple. The only way for Dr. Mossadegh to reach a compromise with his British/American foes would've been rtreating from nationalizing the oil -- which would've stood against his principles! Hence, for that very reason, he had to be made an example of by being character-assassinated and utterly humiliated.

When I saw an image of "Mossadegh" for the first time in a book (apparently written by Shah) at school, I rememeber, when got home, asking my father if Dr. Mossadegh was a traitor and a lazy man! I expained about the depiction of him cowering under a blanket in the propaganda book when he asked me how I got such an idea. He made me promise not to repeat to anybody what he was about to say -- especially at school where many SAVAKI informants existed -- and then briefly told me about what had happened in 1953 and how the Shah's propaganda aparatus tried to discredit and character-assassinate Dr. Mossadegh and those opposed to Shah's regime, and how my uncle (a member of Jebhe Melli) was imprisoned and turtured for years by the predecesors of Savakis. Since then I quietly began to learn about politics and democracy. The more I read, the more I learned how ridiculous and idiotic "his majesty's" propaganda effort were!

In absence of political parties, peolpe who desperately seek to express tehmselves find the alternative in clinging to their heroes. Under the Shah's rule peole could only discuss the 1953 events and, politics in general, in quiet whispers. During the Islamic regime too Dr. Mossadegh has been misrepresented and villified (Khomeini reffered to him as the one who slapped Islam in the face). That is why, until our people can openly talk about and vindicate Mossadegh and his legacy, he'll remain a symbol of national resistance against tyranny and injustice.

Shah, who delightfully basked in the new fortune his anglo-American patrons had afforded him, took pleasure in destryoing the old trouble-making foe -- thinking he's made it after all! Yet, in a span of a quarter of a century, he was kicked around and repelled by his American patrons like a leper with whome they did not want to associate! Isn't that an ironic twist of fate?!


Thank you "somebody"

by Kouroush Sassanian (not verified) on

I am grateful for your encouragement. However, I still have the desire to occasiobnally use other people's names, such as Nader Vanaki, to get at people.

Please pray for me!


Thanks for a wonderful Article ...

by Mina Asemani (not verified) on

Thanks Fariba. Great writing.



In The Name of Mossadegh, STOP it!

by Sadegh Saffari (not verified) on

Ms Amini

As the son of one of Mossadegh's closest Allies (my father was the late Rahim Saffari) I am writing to implore you to stop associating the name of that great man with your name and your father's name. YOUR FATHER stood by and sheepishly remained silent when the mullahs were violating human rights by executing members of the previous regime. MY FATHER, resigned from the National Front and did not stay in a party that had betrayed Mossadegh and his secular principles. YOUR FATHER accepted a position in that regime , whereas MY FATHER left the country shortly after the revolution and did not accept any position. YOURSELF, as a former Chereek Fadayee had a direct hand in the establishment of this meurderous regime and continue to travel to Iran without any restriction. I am a refugee from this regime and have never returned to Iran for nearly 30 years. You cannot legitimize your illigitimate image by hiding behind the name of that great man. He was not a servant of the clergy as your family have been.
In the name of Mossadegh STOP.


To Darius Kadivar (Re: Dear Fariba It's Time to Forgive and Move

by Abbas Emmadi (not verified) on

Mr Darius,
I know that remebering the attorcities and crimes of the US government after 1953 coup against Iranians goes against your membership charter in the "$72 M Club", but as your momy may have told you "Those who forget the history, are bound to repreat it". Why should we forget and move on Mr Darius? Why? Because US can come in and repeat the same crimes, plunder our resources and destory our lives, and hire stooges like you to serve its pruposes? Because you will get rich and happy and the hell with the lives of millions of Iranians whose lives have been destoryed? Shame on you. Shame. Your membership in the "$75 M Club" has really blinded you to the realities of life and morality of individual actions. Shame on you. No wonder the talks and actions of "opposition" like you never bear fruit.


"Kouroush Sassanian"

by somebody (not verified) on

کورش جان عزیز ٫‌ نازنین پسر ٫ شما مثل اینکه دیشب خوابهای قاطی پاتی دیدی ودوباره یه جوریت شده.

عزیزِ‌ دل ٫ جان خواهر یا برادر ٫دست از این ادا و اطفارات بردار ....برو یه گوشه بشین و یک خورده دعا به در گاه آقا خدا بکن وبعدش هم ازش طلبِ یه چیزائی ... بعدش هم بشین دنبال شعر گفتن و تحقیق کردن و مقاله نوشتن ...
آفرین جوان ....صدها آفرین جوان ...


Ahmad, what about the role

by Farhad Kashani (not verified) on

Ahmad, what about the role of millions of Iranians who went marching on the streets demanding Shah’s return and Mossadegh’s departure? What about the Iranian (Shah’s) government role? Did the U.S and British put some kind of a chip in the brains of those millions of Iranians? Why can’t we take responsibility of things we do and always blame others? The most fierce anti American Iranian has yet to come up with more than the argument that the role the U.S played in the coup was at its highest to give Shah the “advise” to go ahead with the coup, and some small logistical support. If the U.S wouldnt’ve said that to him, he would’ve done it anyways. Its not other people’s fault. We Iranians are masters in blaming others for our mishaps. I haven’t seen any other nationality like that. It’s sad.



by Anonymous123 (not verified) on


Please for a moment forget

by Anonymous9898 (not verified) on

Please for a moment forget these idle discussions and if you want to have FUN for this weekend and LAUGH a bit and forget your moshkelat for a while go this page and read the romantic story and the commentaries below it:



Darius Kadivar

Dear Fariba It's Time to Forgive and Move Forward

by Darius Kadivar on

Dear Fariba, 

I read your article with Interest and share the frustration that you feel given that you have known Mossadeq through your father's personal and professional involvment with him.

 Mossadeq was no doubt an essential historical figure in contemporary Iran and in its struggle for independence. I do not belong to the generation that saw him govern or his rise to power However I don't think that is the case of  the majority of those who claim to be his followers today.  The passionate approach of looking at the events of the 1953 coup seems to me a little obsolete more than half a century later. No matter the resentment one could hold personally against those responsible for Mossadeq's fall be it: the Shah, Zahedi or the UK American alliance I think that historians and academicians can only solve the issue and give credit where it is due to Mossadeq only in the light of what we know of these event today. Stephen Kinzer book, All the Shah's Men: an American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, 2003 is an interesting and essential read and I think that the thesis he defends is coherently argued including in the metaphorical choice of his title. That said I also think that in the contemporary Iranian mindset since the Islamic Revolution there has also been an Academic Coup equally shocking and despicable in presenting facts in regard to the Pahlavi rule.

Let me be clear and as unambiguous in my statement by answering to three major interrogations in regard to the events of 1953: 

1) Question: Was Mohammed Mossadeq a Patriot genuinely concerned by Iran’s national interests ?

 Answer: Absolutely YES. 

2) Question: Was the toppling of his government, arrest and trial morally wrong and unfair ?

 Answer: Absolutely YES. 

3) Question: Was the toppling of his government a COUP ?  

Answer: Before Answering to this question, I would like to refer to this online dictionary which defines a Coup ( I recall it is also derived from the French expression Coup d’Etat ) in two different manners:

1)     as a sudden and decisive change of government illegally or by force

or as : 

2)     a brilliant and notable success.

However Wrong There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that for those who were or are still die hard opponents of the late Prime Minister the second definition can be sadly applied on the short term to Mossadeq’s toppling.

As for the the first definition it also applies to Mossadeq’s downfall albeit a major difference: Constitutionally at least Mossadeq was not above the Crown. The Shah unlike his father reigned and did not Rule for 12 years after being put on the Throne on December 1941 upon his father’s forcefull abdication ( an event also considered as a British conspiracy by his followers) due to Reza Shah’s declaration of neutrality in regard to the Allies declaration of War on Nazi Germany. Being a Lawyer Mossadeq knew or should have known that by asking the Shah’s departure he was also breaching the Law of the Country. He was after all appointed Prime Minister twice by the Shah ( probably under popular and political pressure) after his Prime Minister Razmara was assassinated. Regardless of the personal resentments he could have against the Pahlavi Dynasty and understandable given his own Qajar Heritage, it seems to me that he also took a political risk by turning against the royal establishment of the time and that by doing so he had masterminded a Coup not the Shah. Whether the Pahlavi Dynasty had a legitimacy or not ( given the known fact that Reza Shah toppled the former Qajar King and crowned himself king which can be considered as a Coup ( But that has also been the case for ALL the Iranian Dynasties in 25 Centuries )according the the First Definition above) is less the question than that of an Appointed Prime Minister who decides overnight to declare a Republic and kicks out the Constitutionally accepted Royal Family out of the country ? Does that attitude no matter how justified it was by his sympathizers or those Iranians who favored a Republic over a Monarchy seem to you as a wise political move ? In that case we cannot claim that Mossadegh’s toppling was a Coup but a Restoration or even counter Revolution? 


After all one can argue that it was a Fair Fight after all ! (Mind you, I said a Fair Fight not an Equal Fight):

 -          Mossadegh on one hand used his own political  ammunitions to impose his political views and preferences with the support of a vast majority of people in the streets and also by trying to seduce President Truman and American Politicians ( See Photo 1, 2 ) in supporting his cause rather than the British after he legally defended and won his case on the issue of nationalization of Iran’s Oil at the International Court of La Hague.

-          The Shah on the other hand could naturally count on the Army and British and American support given the Prime Minister’s direct challenge to their economic supremacy over Iranian interests. Which king would refuse to be restored in power if he was challenged by his own government ?  I am not talking about the nature of Iran’s monarchy which was never entirely democratic nor was the Constitution drafter in 1906 ever respected in its entirety be it by the Qajar Kings or the Pahlavi’s for that matter. But the monarchy as a system of government was institutionalized since the 1906 revolution as obeying to a constitution that on paper at least was very similar to that of the Belgian Constitutional Monarchy. So I feel that by challenging the legitimacy of the country’s King he was either extremley confident in his own success or underestimated the important and at the time sacred role of the King as figurehead of a feudal country that Iran was before the White Revolution. That the Shah capitalized on his victory over Mossadegh and his hard work in nationalizing Iran’s Oil seems evident in retrospect but that does also indicate that maybe Mossadegh was not the visionary leader his followers claim and still claim he was either. I don’t think that we can even blame the Shah for Mossadegh’s overthrow in that as King it was his authority and legitimacy which was challenged. Whether Mossadegh was morally just and the Shah wrong is not in my opinion the historical debate today for many would regard that Mossadegh had no other personal interest or ambition to rule over his country other than a civil servant be it President ( as long as his health and intellect would allow) of a newly declared Secular Republic. However the question remains as to Mossadegh’s political ability to keep a highly religious country united without risking even to be toppled by another ambitious military who would most probably established a dictatorship similar to that of Turkey or any other South American dictatorship of its time. Was it not General Teymour Bakhtiar head of the SAVAK who tried in turn to topple the Shah and escaped to Iraq only to be assassinated in turn. His cousin however Shapour who was member of Mossadegh’s National Front and also was imprisoned by the Shah because of his opposition to the King nevertheless accepted the post of Prime Minister against Odds and refused to join the Islamic Revolution unlike most of his own party’s leaders.  He even favored a Constitutional Monarchy but a True one with Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi as Legitimate King if ever the mullah Revolution had not won or if he were to come back to power be it by Force with the help of the Americans.  Therefore Given the interrogations above I find it very difficult to answer the 3rd question nor do I claim to be qualified to do so. The sad conclusion I have reached and which is a personal assessment that I do not expect you to share no more than anyone who may think differently is that BOTH the Shah and Mossadegh were too Stubborn to admit their errors which I am afraid is a very Iranian mindset shaped by the lack of a truly democratic culture in our history. We tend to idolize people and not just our Kings. Mossadegh has been idolized by his followers as much as the Shah has in his turn for virtues that he may not have lived up to.  This I think is an error and one cannot blame Kinzer an American Citizen to look at Iran’s contemporary history in terms of “Here are the Good Guy’s ( That is Mossadegh and his followers) and these are the Bad Guys ( The Shah and his Men ). The portrayal however interesting and to some degree true fails in my point of view to give an accurate picture of Iran’s political landscape and political dillema’ssimply because it chooses to see Iranian society as a democratically motivated one. I personally do not think that Iranians in 1953 were at any point democratic except for some of its notable intellectuals. Nationalism is not necessarily compatible with Democratic ideals after all, no more than a Nation’s Freedom guarantees the establishment of Democracy in that country.  I can certainly claim that I prefer a democratic society and political form of government to an Absolute Monarchy or a Military dictatorship. Yet the Shah of Iran’s reign cannot be either reduced to what many Academics compared to a South American Pinochet-Like rule. That was not the case for the Pahlavi rule after the White Revolution nor even after the fatal political move of the Shah to create the Rastakhiz Party and put an end to the two party system that guaranteed the parlimentary nature of Iran’s poltical structure. Iran was a secular but alas authoritarian regime like Turkey where Democracy was not truly part of our national vocabulary or mindset. It Was Wrong to think that way but that was how it was for centuries and the terms of modernity and progress under Pahlavi Rule unfortunately overshadowed the importance of democratic ideals as we see them today. From this point of view we can indeed blame the Shah for not having encouraged the political debate and democratic practice in Iran by simply setting aside as a Symbolic Figure head as one would expect in modern European Constitutional Monarchies rather than an active ruler who refused political oppeness due to impatience and probably a stubborn suspicion shaped by conspiracy theories than a purely dicatorial mindset. I think that Iran’s history cannot be written from just one angle and the Truth of the events of 1953 however tragic for individual destinies as that of Dr. Mossadegh and its followers and fatal to even the Shah’s reign also need to take into account the third actor and that is Iranian Civil Society itself and its particularly fragile status in Iranian Society at large. It is this particular fragility that can explain to a large degree the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and its subsequent Triumph in the Revolution of 1979.  

The only hope for a better and truly democratic future is to look at our history with less passion but more objectivity. Thirty Years of a bloody theocracy should by now at least rally all True Democrats rather than endless debates of the nature of an event that was unfortunate but probably inevitable given the lack of vision of all those involved: Mossadegh, the Shah, Iran's Intelligenstia and the People at large included.




Ms. Amini: You will benefit

by lk (not verified) on

Ms. Amini: You will benefit by investing a few dollars in purchasing the book "A century of War" by William Engdhall...Knowledge is power. Don't be so obssessed with your fall from grace...if you know what I mean. Get over it...move forward.


Ms. Amini: How about the

by m9 (not verified) on

Ms. Amini: How about the coup in 1978, manufactured by US and UK and collaborators like your father???

Shame on you...


Mossadegh was a Qajar

by Anonymouskk (not verified) on

Mossadegh was a Qajar nobility and for that alone he has no credibility.

Arrow goes forward only after pulling into backward. We must examine the past if we want to go forward.

"The particular shape of the ruling classes in Iran has, for the past one thousand and one years at least, consisted of two major components. In Iran they are referred to as the ‘Shah’ and the ‘Shaykh’; the King and the Cleric.

For those less familiar with the history of Iran, it is instructive to know that the clergy were a most integral part of the ruling classes all the way until 1920s, when the founder of the Pahlavi Dynasty, Reza Shah, summarily stripped the mullahs of almost all their social institutions of the rest.



Westerners deserve what is happening to them: Mossadegh's curse?

by Ahmad Bahai (not verified) on

I hope what is happening to the west (they are going tail spin for now and for a foseeable future) is a lesson for those in the future who may think they can play with the lives and livelihood of millions of innocent Iranians. What US and the Bristish did to Iran is worse than terrorism. With a terrorist act, you may have 1, may be 10, may be 100, or at most thousands dead or mamed. With what the brits and amaericans did in 1953, was to destory lives for MILLIONS of iranians. Not to kill them (which I wish was the case) but to DESTROY lives of us iranians, past generation, current, and possibly future generations to come. They deserve whatever is happening to them. I hope this is Dr. Mossadegh's curse.



Idiotic Shahi Types

by Ace (not verified) on

They love the English and Americans for strangling democracy in this coup, but they love to curse them for the revolution. F YOU!!! Poetic justice is sweet, and no, not all people are upset about the revolution just like you were all justifying the coup.



by 007 (not verified) on


Shame on us. He is the Genesis of 9/11 and the root of terror in the region. Why do the Mullahs do not listen to us in the West? Why are they so greety about their nuclear program? Why do they throw rocks at us for the past 28 years? We ignored him and installed the SHAH and he ruled as a dictator. We could have had a democratic Middle East.

God Bless His Soul


Mosadeq was a commie...

by Anonymous^2 (not verified) on

and thanks to the Americans for stopping him from handing over Iran to the Soviets.

God Bless America


You conveniently seem to forget something.

by Truth Teller (not verified) on

Miss Amini,
With all his shortcomings, Mossadegh was a good man and what happened to him was a tragedy brought about with the help of foreigners.
But you conveniently seem to forget something.
What is now happening in Iran and has been going on for the past 30 years is far worse than anything that was ever done to Mossadegh and this time you, your dad and his friends were instrumental in bringing it about.
You seem to have a long memory when it comes to Mossadegh and after 55 years, you still blame those responsible and bear a heavy grudge.
In your (so called) "expert" opinion, how long should we remember your actions in helping bring about the revolution ????
With self proclaimed intellectuals like you, is it any wonder Iran is in so much mess???