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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/20/16

Iran "28 Mordad" and the Great Game 2.0

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The 1953 coup in Iran, known as " 28 Mordad ", became the centerpiece for the new imperialism. It was only natural that the US embassy in Tehran became a "nest of spies", as it was dubbed by the Iranians. It had become "mission control center" for all US espionage activity in the Muslim world.

The following is an interview with Eric Walberg that first appeared in . Eric Walberg is a well-known Canadian journalist, specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia.

[]: What made the US orchestrate the coup d'etat of the 28th of Mordad in Iran (August 19, 1953)?


It is important to follow the events in the region that the 1953 coup in Iran was part of. Imperialism has gone through three distinct stages since the term "Great Game" was coined in the nineteenth century to describe the rivalry between imperialist powers Russia and Britain. Imperial strategy was simpler then, but the basic elements were in place.

Britain sent spies disguised as surveyors and traders to Afghanistan and Turkestan and, several times, armies to keep the Russians at bay. The ill-fated Anglo-Afghan war of 1839-1842 was precipitated by fears that the Russians were encroaching on British interests in India after Russia established a diplomatic and trade presence in Afghanistan. Already by the nineteenth century there was no such thing as neutral territory. The entire world became a gigantic playing field for the major industrial powers, and Eurasia was the center of this playing field.

The coup in 1953 in Iran was a key move in what I refer to as "Great Game 2": the imperialist powers, now united in a Cold War against socialism and third world liberation, which went into high gear following World War Two. As Great Game 2 began, Soviet and British troops were still occupying Iran. Pro-Soviet elements tried to seize power in the Soviet-occupied north and the Soviet Union hoped that this movement would spread and bring Iran into the anti-colonial camp. The Azerbaijan People's Government and the Republic of Kurdistan were declared in late 1945, but collapsed when the Soviet forces retreated in 1946.

The communists (Tudeh Party) were killed, but National Front Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh took a leaf from their book and nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1951.

The British Labour government, betraying its socialist principles, demanded Great Game 1-style gunboat diplomacy: a coup to overthrow the democratically elected prime minister. British minister of defense Emanuel Shinwell warned that if tough action was not taken, " Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries would be encouraged to think they could try things on; the next thing might be an attempt to nationalize the Suez Canal."

The CIA vetoed the plan, and instead, organized and paid anti-Mossadegh protesters and street thugs to riot, loot and burn mosques and newspapers in Tehran, leaving almost 300 dead. The CIA team, led by retired army general and Mossadegh's former interior minister Fazlollah Zahedi, mobilized a few pro-Shah tank regiments to storm the capital and arrest Mossadegh on the pretext that he was a communist.

Mossadegh was an avowed anti-communist, and thus, unlike Cuba's Fidel Castor a few years later, was unable and unwilling to turn to the Soviet Union for help.

The US and Britain re-installed the now thoroughly discredited "Shah Junior" [the eldest son of the first Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty, Reza Shah] who dutifully continued the secularization process begun by his father, and proceeded to run Iran as an obedient secular neo-colony of the US, abandoning his father's attempt to retain a modicum of independence by playing off the imperial powers against each other.

The weakness of Britain did not escape the notice of Colonel Abdel-Nasser, who forced Great Britain out of Egypt in 1954 and nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956, in a rare win for a periphery player in Great Game 2. Encouraged by their "success" in Iran, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden believed that a British-French-Israeli attack on Egypt would not only remove Nasser, getting back the canal, but would also strengthen the British position vis-a-vis the United States.

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Eric writes for Al-Ahram Weekly and PressTV. He specializes in Russian and Eurasian affairs. His "Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games", "From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization" and "Canada (more...)

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