DONALD TRUMP’s hawkish rhetoric on Iran has sparked fears that the US may seek to implement regime change in the country – and it’s not an alien concept.
“You’ve seen how that works over the last 20 years, that hasn’t been too good.”
In 1953, however, there was a different mood among Washington officials.
Mohammad Mosaddegh was appointed Prime Minister in 1951 after the Shah of Iran – Rez Pahlavi – took note of his rising popularity within his volatile nation.
At the time, Iranian oil was under the control of the US and Britain, much to the dismay of the Iranian people.
Mr Mosaddegh’s nationalisation of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company with the intention of diverting any ensuing revenue back into Iran sent shockwaves through Westminister and Washington.
Documents suggest that initially, Winston Churchill proposed to overthrow the Mosaddegh government, but US President Harry Truman declined to help.
New President Dwight Eisenhower, however, took a different tone and jointly agreed to depose the Iranian government.
Britain led a worldwide boycott of Iranian oil on the basis that the Ango-Persian Oil Company – which Britain controlled – had its rights violated.
This caused huge economic turmoil in Iran, and the people started to turn against him.
The CIA then worked with British intelligence to carry out ‘Operation Ajax’ with the help of the Shah.
Infiltrators, posing as Shah supporters, organised crowds of people before storming government buildings.
As Mr Mosaddegh fled, the Shah took charge and led a pro-US regime for the next 26 years.
The CIA never admitted their involvement until 2013 – 60 years after the coup – when a series of documents were finally declassified.
One read: “The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government.”
The Shah was eventually deposed in the 1979 Revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini, who ushered in a theocratic system that remains today.
Former CIA official Bruce Riedel claimed successive US administrations had discussed regime change on numerous occasions since then but never pursued it.
Iran expert Gareth Smyth suggested that, instead of a military or political coup, the US were instead seeking to build up opposition within Iran.
He wrote for Lobelog: “In the 39 years since the 1979 Revolution removed the Shah, Washington has sought credible Iranian opposition figures, helped or hindered by its so-called experts.”
Having failed, economic pressure in the form of sanctions has created internal unrest in Iran – but aside from protests in 2018, the government has held firm.
Analyst Lee Smith suggested that Trump’s policy is not to seek war against Iran, but to secure a diplomatic victory.