In 2013, the CIA admitted their role in the 1953 coup in Iran which removed the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. However what was not clear is the role the UK played in this coup, despite a long-held belief that British Intelligence agencies played a role.
However newly declassified US State Department documents have exposed Britain’s role which shows that the UK were responsible for coercing Washington into fomenting the coup d’état in Iran to depose Mosaddegh who was the head of the democratically elected government from 1951 to 1953.
The evidence came to light in June 2017, when the State department released a 1000+ page report of declassified material relating to the years which lead up to the instigation of the coup.
The reluctance for the UK to admit its role was cited in documentation relating to this newly declassified material which showed apparent requests by London to Washington that they did not expose the UK’s role in the coup.
Memoranda issued in late November and early December 1952 clearly reveal the role of the UK in the coup whereby it stated that the “The British Foreign Office has informed us that it would be disposed to attempt to bring about a coup d’état in Iran, replacing the Mosadeq Government by one which would be more ‘reliable,’ if the American Government agreed to cooperate.”
Unsurprisingly the rationale behind this coup relates to oil. At that time Gulf nations sort to gain a larger share of oil revenue. The UK refused to cooperate on this matter with Iran and Mosaddegh nationalized Iran’s oil industry in early 1951 much to the annoyance of London as it seriously impacted the revenues they received.
Washington was reluctant to undertake such an operation. London attempted, via these two memos, to convince Washington that Mosaddegh would be unable to prevent a Communist takeover in Iran and therefore framed it under the guise that they were looking to save Iran from this fate.
Washington asserted that this policy was in clear contradiction with their aims at assisting the Mosaddegh cabinet and they considered it virtually impossible to proceed with plans to overthrow Mosaddegh while providing him with such assistance. Furthermore Washington did not want to jeopardize US efforts to propose an oil settlement which would be acceptable to both the Iranians and the British.
Ironically the US were correct in their assertions that the proposed coup would work against Washington in the region. It ultimately led to the Islamic revolution in 1979 and the damage to US-Iranian relations which we witness to this day.
What will perhaps always remain a mystery is how London eventually convinced Washington to take part in a coup which was against US interests. However most importantly, it is a history lesson that everyone in the West should learn and accept that history merely documents events which happen in real-time and are always denied in the present. Future declassified documents will prove that nations such as the US and the UK were also complicit in places such as Libya, Syria and Ukraine as they were back in Iran in 1953.