Revolution #169, June 28, 2009
60 Years of U.S. Intervention in Iran:
A Horror for the People
1. 1953: CIA Installs a Puppet
In the early 1950s, Iran was ruled by British imperialism and its puppet, Shah (King) Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company controlled Iran’s oil and reaped huge profits. Iran’s oil workers toiled for 50 cents a day and lived in polluted slums without water or electricity. Most Iranians were impoverished peasants, enslaved on the land.
A movement of millions arose that drove the hated Shah from the country. Mohammed Mossadegh, who became the prime minister, attempted to nationalize Iran’s oil. Control of Iranian oil was crucial to the Western imperialists. In 1953, the CIA and the British organized a coup that overthrew Mossadegh and returned the Shah to power, instituted a ruthless dictatorship, and crushed his opponents. Full control of Iran’s oil was returned to Western corporations.
2. 1953-1979: The Nightmare Under U.S. Domination
During this period, the U.S. was the dominant power in Iran. For the people of Iran, life under U.S. domination was a nightmare. The Shah ruled through his brutal secret police, SAVAK, which the U.S. trained and organized. SAVAK imprisoned, tortured, and murdered thousands of people who dared to oppose the regime. And, according to a former CIA analyst on Iran, Jesse J. Leaf, SAVAK was trained in torture techniques by the CIA. The U.S. rulers did not even shed crocodile tears when their puppet dictator carried out these tortures and murders. The economy was totally subservient to the West, and billions of dollars were poured into making Iran into a U.S. military outpost. Meanwhile, 60 percent of Iranians were illiterate, life expectancy was only 50 years, 139 out of every 1,000 children died in their first year, and millions lived in rural poverty or sprawling urban slums.
3. 1977-1979: Fall of Shah and Rise of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI)
In 1978, a wave of mass revolution built across Iran against the Shah. Backed by the U.S., the Shah tried to drown the revolution in blood—for example, in September 1978, thousands of people were killed in what is known as the “Bloody Friday” massacre. When it became clear that the Shah was losing control, the U.S. switched tactics. The Shah was pushed into exile, and the U.S. helped the reactionary Islamic fundamentalist regime led by Ayatollah Khomeini consolidate power and usher in a new nightmare for Iran’s people. The U.S. rulers assessed that their best bet—rather than allowing the revolution to develop and the possibility of more radical or revolutionary forces coming to the fore—was to work through the IRI, because Iran’s theocratic rulers had no intention or ability to fully break with imperialism. And the U.S. backed the Islamic regime’s brutal repression of revolutionaries and progressives.
4. 1980-1987: U.S. Fuels Slaughter in the Persian Gulf
The Khomeini regime was intent on promoting Islamic fundamentalism and expanding its role in the region. In November 1979, Iranian students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. All this crashed sharply with U.S. efforts to maintain its domination of the Middle East. In 1980, as part of a strategic approach to weakening the IRI, the U.S. gave Iraq’s Saddam Hussein a green light to invade Iran, and then worked to turn the Iran-Iraq War into an eight-year bloodbath. U.S. allies supplied Iraq with billions in weapons and material that Hussein turned into chemical weapons, which he used on Iranians as well as Iraqi Kurds. The U.S. also supplied Iran, and played both sides against each other to prevent either from winning. When the war ended, an estimated one million Iraqis and Iranians had been killed.
5. Today: U.S. Threatens More Aggression Against Iran
After 9/11, the U.S. launched a so-called “war on terror,” whose real goal is to tear up the existing economic and political structures in the Middle East that it saw as an impediment to radically restructuring the region in the U.S.’s strategic interests, and to crush or force into defeat the Islamic fundamentalist forces who pose obstacles to those imperialist interests—so that the U.S. rulers can more directly control and exploit the whole Middle East, as a key part of creating an unchallenged and unchallengeable global empire.
Under the Bush regime, the U.S. made all kinds of accusations against Iran to justify stepped-up threats. Bush invoked the danger of “World War 3” and other wild exaggerations and lies, including the possibility of nuclear attack. Now Obama has tactically modified this, but has not fundamentally altered the Bush strategic aims.
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