Iran: A People’s History of a Washington Target

The Arab Times editor also noted that "A reliable source said President Bush recently held a meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice and other assistants in the White House where they discussed the plan to attack Iran in minute detail." However, most U.S. high school social studies departments still don’t require their students to study a significant amount of 20th century Iranian history.

From 1918 to 1941

See previous piece, A People’s History of Iran: Part I

Between 1941 and 1978, the Tudeh Party was generally the largest Iranian left-wing party to oppose the Shah of Iran’s U.S.-supported dictatorial regime. Yet prior to the Tudeh Party’s founding in 1941, there had been previous attempts by people in Iran to politically and economically democratize Iranian society.

During the Iranian Revolution of 1905 to 1911, for instance, equal rights under the Constitution of 1906 had been obtained by Iranians of Jewish background. In April 1918, a group of Iranians, the Adalat Group, had also been founded to politically oppose the Iranian monarchy, the Iranian clergy and the privileged Iranian landholding aristocracy.

During the Russian Civil War that followed the October 1917 Revolution in Russia, Soviet military and naval detachments that were pursuing the anti-revolutionary White Russian troops temporarily entered Northeast Iran on May 18, 1920. Aided by these Soviet troops, a non-communist Jangali movement, led by Kuchek Khan, then sought to liberate Iran from its oppression by British imperialism, its anti-democratic Iranian clerics and its anti-democratic Iranian feudal landholders. And the Jangali movement proclaimed the establishment of the Gilan Republic in Northeast Iran on June 4, 1920.

Influenced by pro-communist and left sectarian Iranian activists, the Gilan Republic began to distribute anti-religious propaganda in the small area of Iran it controlled and closed 19 mosques. It also prohibited religious instruction in its schools and decreed that Iranian women should be forcibly unveiled. Predictably, the Islamic clergy opposed such measures and the still religious Iranian peasants were alienated by the Gilan Republic’s anti-religious policies — despite the fact that the Gilan Republic’s land reform decrees would have benefited these same peasants economically.

On June 23, 1920, 37 members of the Persian Communist Party (which had been created by members of the Adalat Group) then held their first congress and proposed the following political and economic democratization reforms for Iranian society:

1. Overthrow of British imperialist domination in Iran;

2. Confiscation of all foreign enterprises in Iran;

3. Recognition of the right of self-determination of all nationalities within a unified Iran;

4. Confiscation of all the land of big Iranian landowners and its redistribution to Iranian peasants and to the soldiers of an Iranian revolutionary army.

On July 31, 1920 a National Committee for the Liberation of Persia was set up by the non-communist Jangali leaders and their Persian Communist Party allies, and in mid-August 1920 the revolutionary army of the National Committee for the Liberation of Persia marched on Tehran. The British imperialist-backed Iranian central government’s army, however, was able to defeat this revolutionary army.

On February 26, 1921, the Soviet government then signed a friendship treaty with the pro-British Iranian central government to withdraw all Soviet troops from northeast Iran by September 21, 1921. Once the Soviet troops were gone, Reza Khan Pahlavi’s Iranian central government then was able to more easily decrease the Persian Communist Party’s political influence in Iran by the end of 1921.

At the end of 1921, however, there were still 10 labor unions or guilds in Iran, with 10,000 members, that represented bakers, printers, telegraph workers, tailors, street cleaners or government employees. The newspaper that expressed the political goals of these Iranian unions, Haqiqat (‘Truth’) promoted the following four demands during the early 1920s:

1. Lift martial law in Iran;

2. Amnesty for all Iranian political prisoners;

3. Confiscate and distribute the lands of those who had abused Iranian peasants’ rights; and

4. Distribute Iranian state land among Iranian peasants.

By 1922, worker membership in Iranian trade unions had increased to 15,000, with 12,000 of the unionized Iranian workers living in Tehran. Around 1,000 Iranians were also still members of the Persian Communist Party in 1922. But by 1924 the number of Persian Communist Party members had dropped to 600.

After Reza Khan–backed by the Iranian landlords, the Iranian Army and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company which ruled southern Iran-became the Iranian monarch in 1925, he then both suppressed the Iranian trade unions and began to outlaw the Persian Communist Party.

In 1927 a second congress of the repressed Persian Communist Party [PCP] was held and PCP activists decided to work underground for the following aims in Iran:

1. Elimination of Iranian monarchy and rejection of an Iranian "bourgeois" parliamentary republic;

2. National rights for all nationalities within Iran;

3. A new army of workers and peasants for Iran;

4. Confiscation of all installations of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in Iran;

5. Abolition of foreign concessions in Iran;

6. Establishment of agricultural lending banks;

7. Surrender of all Iranian religious endowments and Iranian big estates to Iranian peasants;

8. Confiscate the property of the Shah of Iran, the Iranian aristocracy and Iranian tribal chieftains; and

9. Abolish all debts owned by the Iranian peasants.

The following specific political demands were also made by the Second Congress of the PCP in 1927:

1. Full freedom for Iranian labor unions and Iranian political organizations;

2. Iranian government recognition of labor unions;

3. Free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press and the right to strike be established in Iran;

4. Collective bargaining and contract rights for labor unions in Iran;

5. Establishment of a minimum wage in Iran; and

6. Housing for Iranian workers in the oil and fishing industries.

Two years after this 1927 PCP Congress, oil industry workers in the Khuzistan area of Iran went on strike. But by 1931, Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime had formally outlawed even more extensively the PCP and the PCP’s front groups under the June 1931 Anti-Communist Act. By the end of 1931, around 150 Iranian communist activists were being held in the Reza Shah Pahlavi regime’s prisons. Yet between 1933 and 1937 a discussion group of left intellectuals in Iran, led by Dr. Taghi Erani, was still able to start and publish abroad, in Europe, a theoretical journal, titled Donya (‘Universe"), to promote the democratization of Iranian society.

In response to growing anti-British mass nationalist pressure in Iran during the 1930s, Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime agreed to annul one of its previously agreed to oil concessions to British imperialism in Khuzistan on November 27, 1932. Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime then began to pursue a more nationalist policy; and some reforms were also introduced by Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime during the 1930s which Westernized Iranian society somewhat and provided public school educational opportunities for the children of Iran’s middle-class families.

Political repression of Iranian left intellectuals continued, however, during the 1930s by the regime. In April 1937, for instance, Dr. Taghi Erani and 52 members of his Donya magazine discussion group were arrested by the Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime and charged with conspiracy to violate the Anti-Communist Act of 1931. At their subsequent November 1938 trial, Erani attacked the constitutionality of the regime’s Anti-Communist Act of 1931 as a violation of the right to freedom of expression. But all 53 defendants were convicted. Ten of the convicted Iranian left defendants were then sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment.

The leader of the Donya journal circle, Erani, died in an Iranian prison, however, on February 4, 1940, apparently as a result of deliberate negligence by the Reza Shah Pahlavi regime’s prison hospital authorities. But in September 1941, the other imprisoned left intellectuals of the Donya circle were granted amnesty and released, after Reza Shah Pahlavi’s authoritarian regime–which was seen as too politically supportive of Nazi Germany–was overthrown by a joint military invasion of Iran by the foreign troops of the Soviet and British governments. The released Donya journal circle prisoners then joined other Iranian leftists in establishing the Tudeh Party in October 1941.

One reason that Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime was pro-Nazi Germany in its politics in early 1941 was that between 1933 and 1941 Nazi Germany had helped this regime modernize and industrialize Iran and had become Iran’s largest trading partner. Between 1929 and 1941, for instance, the number of Iranians who were urban workers rather than peasants jumped from 300,000 to 600,000; and the size of Iran’s middle-class and intelligentsia also increased.

Despite Reza Shah Pahlavi’s nationalism and his regime’s pro-Nazi, pro-German political orientation during the late 1930s, in 1933 his government added another 60 years to the term of the British-owned Anglo-Persian Oil Company’s lucrative oil production concession. In 1935, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company’s name was also changed to the Anglo Iranian Oil Company when the name of the country was officially changed from "Persia" to "Iran" during that same year.

Early Tudeh Party History

Following its founding in October 1941, Iran’s Tudeh Party members chose Soleiman Mobsen Eskandari as the first chairman of the Tudeh ("Masses of the People") Party. The Tudeh Party then formed anti-fascist committees in the Soviet-occupied areas of Iran which attempted to turn the Iranian nationalists, who were mostly pro-German, in a more anti-fascist political direction.

Under the Reza Shah Pahlavi regime trade unions had been banned in Iran. But following Reza Shah Pahlavi’s forced abdication, Iranian trade unions once again formed and a Central Council of the Trade Unions of Iran was established. A Tudeh Party journal, Siyassat ("Politics"), also began publishing in November 1941 in Iran.

By the following June, around 6,000 Iranians were now members of the Tudeh Party; and about 80% of all Tudeh Party members had been recruited from the Iranian working class. At the Tudeh Party’s first conference in June 1942, 120 Tudeh Party delegates participated and they voted to make the following demands on the new Iranian regime of Reza Shah Pahlavi’s son, Mohammed Pahlavi, which had been set up by British imperialism following Reza Shah Pahlavi’s September 1941 abdication:

1. Formation of a democratic government in Iran;

2. Restoration of political liberties and human rights in Iran;

3. Abolition of the anti-democratic laws enacted during Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime that prohibited anti-monarchical parties and communist parties in Iran;

4. Distribution among Iranian peasants of Iranian state lands and large Iranian landlord holdings; and

5. Recognition of Iranian trade unions and collective bargaining rights by the new Shah of Iran’s government.

Between 1942 and 1945, the number of Tudeh Party members in Iran continued to increase along with the Tudeh Party’s political influence. In the 1943-44 Iranian elections, for instance, around 20% of all the Iranian votes went to either Tudeh Party candidates or Iranian left-oriented candidates who were part of the left-of-center bloc that the Tudeh Party supported. Of the 120 elected members of the Iranian parliament, the Majlis, 8 were members of the Tudeh Party in 1944. In addition, three elected members were pro-Tudeh Party but not formal Tudeh Party members; and 30 elected members of the Iranian parliament were politically left-of-center. Despite the death of the first Tudeh Party Chairman Eskandari in February 1944, by the time of the Tudeh Party Congress in 1944, the number of Iranians who were Tudeh Party members had jumped to 25,000; and 75% of the Tudeh Party members were recruited from the Iranian working-class.

The majority of the members of the Iranian Parliament in 1945, however, were still right-wing and anti-communist in their political orientation. But fearful of the Tudeh Party’s increasing political influence in Iranian society, the troops of the Shan of Iran’s government were ordered to occupy the Tudeh Party’s headquarters in August 1945 and publication of the Tudeh Party’s newspaper was then prohibited by the Shah’s regime. The Tudeh Party was ordered to also disband its branches in areas of Iran that were outside of Tehran.

When Tudeh Party members in Tehran attempted to protest the regime’s outlawing of their political group by marching in Tehran, the Shah of Iran’s security forces blocked the march. A street fight then broke out between Tudeh Party members and the Iranian police in which a leading Tudeh Party activist, Dr. Freydoun Keshavarz, was beaten up. In response, militant pro-Tudeh Party groups of Iranian workers then occupied towns, factories and railroad junctions in the northern part of Iran that was still occupied by foreign Soviet government troops.

An insurrection then broke out in the Turkish-speaking Azerbaijan region of Iran in September 1945; and, protected by the Soviet troops there, an autonomous Azerbaijan government was set up in November 1945 by leftist Azerbaijan activists that demanded national autonomy within a unified Iran for Azerbaijan and land reform. A regular army was also then formed by the new Azerbaijan government. With the support and protection of the Soviet troops that were occupying the north of Iran, a Kurdistan People’s Republic was also established within Iran in February 1946.

But in exchange for the promise by the Shah of Iran’s central government on April 4, 1946 that the Soviet Union would be given an oil concession in the North of Iran, Soviet troops were withdrawn from the northern regions of Iran in May 1946. On May 1, 1946, 500,000 demonstrators-mainly Tudeh Party members, Iranian trade union members or Tudeh Party sympathizers-also celebrated May Day in Iran and demanded more favorable labor laws, pay raises for Iranian workers and redistribution of Iranian land to Iran’s peasantry.

To block a plot by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company to destroy the Iranian oil workers union, a general strike was subsequently called in the Khuzistan region of Iran on July 14, 1946, which was suppressed by the Iranian central government, with heavy casualties for the striking Iranian workers. But on August 1, 1946, the Shah of Iran’s regime allowed a new government coalition cabinet to be formed by a Prime minister named Ghavam, which included 3 Tudeh Party members. It was estimated at this time that the Tudeh Party now had about 50,000 supporters in Tehran and about 50,000 supporters in the rest of the country.

In September 1946, however, the Shah of Iran regime’s Prime Minister Ghavam encouraged a tribal revolt in the southern Iranian province of Fars which demanded both autonomy and the expulsion of Tudeh Party representatives from the Iranian central government’s cabinet. A new cabinet was then formed by Ghavam that excluded Iranian leftists and, in October 1946 an Iranian right-wing offensive against Iranian leftist activists was launched. In November 1946, for instance, a strike by Tudeh Party-sponsored unions was again suppressed and hundreds of Tudeh Party members and Iranian labor union members in the southern part of Iran were arrested. To discourage such independent labor militancy in the future, the Shah of Iran’s regime then also set up its own government-sponsored labor unions, established a Ministry of Labor and finally passed a labor code for Iranian workers.

In December 1946 the Shah of Iran’s central government troops then marched back into Iran’s northwestern Azerbaijan region, entered Tabriz on December 12, 1946 and overthrew the pro-Soviet, revolutionary left-oriented Azerbaijan autonomous government that Turkish-speaking Iranian people there had established in 1945, prior to the May 1946 foreign Soviet troop withdrawal from Iran. Between December 9 and 12, 1946, some people in Azerbaijan resisted the Shah’s Iranian Army troops, and 1,500 Azerbaijani Iranians, including 800 Tudeh Party members, were killed by the Shah’s central government troops. Twenty-six former Iranian army officers who had helped defend the Azerbaijan autonomous government were also killed by Iranian Army firing squads after the Iranian Army occupied Iran’s Azerbaijan region.

One reason the autonomous leftist regime in Iran’s Azerbaijan region collapsed so quickly in December 1946 was that it had lost the support of the still extremely religious Azerbaijan peasantry–when the local clergy in the Azerbaijan region turned against the Azerbaijan regime after it gave Azerbaijan women in Iran the right to vote. Another reason for the quick collapse of the Azerbaijan republic in Iran was that Iranian leftists felt that continued resistance to the Shah of Iran’s central government troops there would have provoked British and U.S. government military intervention in that region of Iran and a bloody civil war in Iran, which they wanted to avoid. Other reasons for the quick collapse of the leftist Azerbaijan regional government in December 1946 were the unfavorable objective conditions and the abandonment by the Soviet Union of its previous policy of supporting the leftist Azerbaijan government in Iran.

After being suppressed throughout Iran in late 1946, the Tudeh Party then adopted a policy of boycotting the July 1947 Iranian parliamentary elections. As a result of the July 1947 elections, 90 percent of the Iranian parliament’s members were now right-wing and anti-communist in their politics and it now declared as "void" the previous Iranian central government’s agreement to form an Iranian-Soviet gas company in exchange for the Soviet government’s May 1946 troop withdrawal from northern Iran.

Despite being suppressed and having no representation in the Iranian parliament, the Majlis, the Tudeh Party still had a mass base among Iranian working-class people, because of the Iranian left’s historical role in organizing Iran’s earliest labor unions

Between 1928 and 1941 under Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime, however, there was no growth of membership in Iranian unions, because of the regime’s policy of repressing Iranian labor unions. After several former Iranian communist labor union activists were released from prison in 1941, following the forced abdication of Reza Shah Pahlavi, four major independent union centers in Tehran, with 10,000 members, were established by 1944. On May 1, 1944, labor organizers who were also Tudeh Party members consolidated their four union centers into a United Council. By the end of 1946, after adding unions of Iranian artisans, the United Council’s membership had increased to 400,000 Iranian workers.

One reason Tudeh Party members were so successful in recruiting Iranian workers into Iranian labor unions in the early 1940s was that between 1941 and 1946 the cost of living in Iran had jumped by 700 percent. To defend their members against this steep decline in real wages, Iranian workers, led by Reza Rusta, struck often between 1941 and 1946. In late 1942 and early 1943, for instance, unionized construction workers employed on Iranian government public works projects held a strike. Iranian textile workers also went on strike in late 1943 and early 1944, with 20,000 Iranian textile workers going out on strike in Tehran, for instance. Then, in 1945, Iranian oil workers struck in Kermanshab; and the following year, there were two strikes of Iranian oil workers in Abadan.

U.S. Involvement in Iran and Tudeh Revival

Although U.S. troops first temporarily appeared on Iranian soil during World War II, it was only in 1946 that the U.S. government began to actively support the build-up of the Shah of Iran’s central government security forces and his Iranian Army. A now de-classified September 11, 1946 dispatch of the Military Attache’ at the British Embassy in Iran, for instance, noted that "The new transport specialist of the United States Advisory Mission to the Persian Army has under consideration a plan for the re-equipment of the army with mechanical transport."

Despite this U.S. military aid to the Shah of Iran’s regime, however, by 1948 Tudeh Party influence among Iranian university students was also beginning to increase. Around 50 percent of all politically active Iranian students during the 1948-49 academic year, for instance, were pro-Tudeh Party in their politics.

In response to the growth of pro-Tudeh Party political activism on campus, Iranian university administrators then issued a decree that banned on-campus political activity by Iranian university students. To protest this decree, Iranian students then went on strike on November 12, 1948 and formed an Anti-Dictatorship Front.

In 1948 and early 1949, the increase in support for the Tudeh Party and for the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company continued. A rally at the grave of the Iranian left intellectual Donya magazine founder, Dr. Taghi Erani (who, after being jailed in 1937, had died in prison in 1940 because of prison authority negligence), was scheduled for February 4, 1949.

On February 4, 1949, 30,000 Tudeh Party members and supporters showed up for the rally at Dr. Erani’s grave and peacefully protested in favor of democratization of Iranian society. Elsewhere in Iran at the same time, however, a lone individual who was a "member" of the Iranian printer’s union attempted to assassinate the Shah of Iran. This February 4, 1949 attempt on the Shah of Iran’s life was then used as a pretext by the Shah’s regime to proclaim martial law, officially outlaw the Tudeh Party, close leftist newspapers and make mass arrests. Most Tudeh Party and Iranian labor union leaders were imprisoned and tried by the Shah of Iran’s military tribunals. Tudeh Party activists who escaped in the spring of 1949, however, continued to organize underground in support of the political and economic democratization of Iranian society.

Dr. Mossadegh’s National Front Government

In the summer of 1949, a non-communist, anti-imperialist, secular Iranian nationalist political leader, Dr. Mossadegh, was instrumental in organizing the National Front group, a coalition of Iranian nationalists and leftists. Mossadegh’s anti-imperialist National Front group members then ran candidates in the elections for the new Iranian parliament on a platform of opposing both increasing the Shah of Iran’s personal political power and a new, unfavorable Iraqi government agreement with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.

After National Front candidates did well in the Iranian parliamentary elections, Mossadegh became Iran’s prime minister in April 1950 and began to introduce some democratic political reforms. Mossadegh’s government, for instance, soon nationalized Iran’s oil industry. In 1950, Mossadegh’s government also allowed the Tudeh Party activists to form the Society of Peace Partisans political group and to publish Tudeh Party literature.

But following a 1951 military agreement between the Shah of Iran and the U.S. government, the Shah of Iran and his British and U.S. imperialist backers attempted to prevent the resurgence of the Tudeh Party in Iran under the more democratic National Front government regime. Tudeh Party publications were suppressed again and Tudeh Party street demonstrations were banned in Iran by the Shah of Iran, for instance, following a July 14, 1951 mass demonstration in Tehran against the visit of U.S. President Harry Truman’s special envoy, Averell Harriman. When Tudeh Party activists defied the Shah of Iran’s ban on street demonstrations on December 5, 1951 to march toward the Iranian parliament in support of demands for democratization, Iranian police suppressed the demonstration.

Yet despite the 1951 repression, by early spring 1952 the still-illegal Tudeh Party had recovered its pre-1949 political strength. In Tehran there were again around 40,000 to 50,000 Tudeh Party sympathizers and 10,000 members; and in the rest of Iran, there were around 40,000 additional Tudeh Party sympathizers and 10,000 Tudeh Party members. In early 1952, the Tudeh Party’s Youth League also numbered about 5,500 members. About 33 percent of the vote in Tehran local elections in early 1952 also went to pro-Tudeh Party candidates.

But later in 1952, the Shah of Iran, the right-wing Iranian landowners and the pro-imperialist conservatives who controlled the Iranian Army attempted to oust Dr. Mossadegh’s National Front government. In response to this attempt to oust Mossadegh’s government, there was a mass popular uprising by the Iranian left and Iranian anti-imperialist nationalists to reinstate Mossadegh to power which achieved its aims. Following his return to power in July 1952, Mossadegh’s National Front government then called for more redistribution of Iranian land to Iranian peasants and for large cuts in the Iranian government’s military budget. In addition, control of Iran’s War Ministry was transferred from the Shah of Iran to the office of Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh.

The British imperialist government, the British oil corporation whose property had been nationalized by the Mossadegh government and the Eisenhower Administration’s CIA, however, continued to work for the overthrow of the Mossadegh government in alliance with the Shah of Iran in early 1953. At the same time, the Tudeh Party attempted to push for a more radical democratization of Iranian society by making the following demands of Mossadegh’s National Front government in 1953: legalize the Tudeh Party; release all Iranian political prisoners; end martial law in Iran’s southern oilfields; expel the U.S. military mission in Iran; reject all foreign military aid to Iran; annul a 1947 U.S.-Iranian agreement; and nationalize the U.S. corporation-owned Bahrein fields in Iran.

To commemorate the first anniversary of the 1952 Iranian uprising which restored Mossadegh to power, a mass demonstration was then held in Tehran on July 21, 1953 in which 50,000 members and sympathizers of the still formally illegal Tudeh Party participated. The demonstrators supported the call of the National Front regime for a referendum to dissolve the Iranian parliament in early August 1953 and hold more democratic elections. Dr. Mossadegh’s National Front government then also demanded in mid-August 1953 that all U.S. government special influence in Iran’s internal political affairs be eliminated and that a democratic republic be established in Iran.

The CIA’s 1953 Iranian Coup

In response, the CIA arranged for a group of pro-Shah Iranian army officers led by General Zahedi to pull a coup that overthrew the democratically-elected, anti-imperialist, nationalist government of Mossadegh on August 26, 1953 and restored absolute political power to the Shah of Iran’s monarchical regime. As Mark Zepezauer observed in his 1994 book The CIA’s Greatest Hits, in August 1953 "the CIA" also "paid for pro-Shah street demonstrators, who seized a radio station" and "it took a nine-hour battle in the streets of Tehran, killing hundreds, to remove Mossadegh." U.S.-based transnational oil corporations profited enormously from the CIA’s illegal 1953 covert activity in Iran. As University of Alberta Professor of Economics Ed Shaffer noted in his 1983 book The United States and the Control of World Oil:

"The overthrow of Mossadegh, which was engineered by the CIA, paved the way for the displacement of Britain by the United States as the major power in Iran. The displacement took place first in oil…

"After the coup the US sent Herbert Hoover, Jr., a director of Union Oil, to negotiate a new oil pact…Oil exploration and production in southern Iran and the operation of the Abadan refinery, then the world’s largest, were to be carried out by a consortium of companies known as Iranian Oil Participants Ltd…."

Mobil, Exxon, Chevron, Texaco and Gulf Oil were each given the right to receive a 5% share of the Iranian Oil Participants Ltd.’s profits from its Iranian oil industry operations and twelve smaller U.S. oil corporations were each given the right to receive a 1% share of the consortium’s profits. Just forty percent of the Iranian Oil Participants Ltd.’s profits went to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now renamed British Petroleum/BP, which had previously not had to split the profits from its Iranian operations with the U.S.-based transnational oil corporations. According to The United States and the Control of World Oil:

"The establishment of the consortium was the most important factor in making the U.S. the dominant oil power in the Middle East. The entry into Iran unquestionably gave it effective control of most of the known reserves of the non-Communist world. Its basic objective, the control of world oil, had been realized."

Following the Eisenhower Administration’s 1953 CIA coup, all Iranian political opponents of the Shah of Iran’s monarchical government were also immediately repressed. Around 3,000 Tudeh Party members, for instance, were either arrested or forced into exile. By January 1954 the number of Tudeh Party members in Iran had dropped to around 4,000 and 580 Tudeh Party members remained locked up in the Shah of Iran’s prisons.

Backed by the U.S. government, the CIA-installed Shah of Iran’s dictatorial regime lasted from late August 1953 until it was finally overthrown by a mass uprising of the Iranian people in early 1979. Friendly relations with the British imperialist government were also resumed immediately after the 1953 CIA coup in Iran by the Shah of Iran’s government. Under the Shah of Iran’s post-1953 period of rule, the Iranian government also became more closely aligned with the U.S. and British governments on a military level, becoming a member of the pro-Anglo-American imperialist Baghdad Pact.

With CIA and U.S. government backing, the Shah of Iran’s regime also set up a more powerful secret police force, SAVAK, to more efficiently repress the various groups that were politically opposed to the Shah of Iran’s dictatorship. By 1958, several advisers to the Shah of Iran from the U.S. were on duty in Iran.

Stay tuned for the next installment of a People History of Iran, by Bob Feldman

Also see this Toward Freedom article for more information: We Are Iran: The Persian Blogs

Bob Feldman is an East Coast-based U.S. anti-war Movement writer-activist.