Clerics responsible for Iran's failed attempts at democracy
washintonpost / Ray Takeyh

Thursday marks the anniversary of one of the most mythologized events in
history, the 1953 coup in Iran that ousted Prime Minister Muhammad
Mossadeq. CIA complicity in that event has long provoked apologies from
American politicians and denunciations from the theocratic regime. The
problem with the prevailing narrative? The CIA's role in Mossadeq's
demise was largely inconsequential. The institution most responsible for
aborting Iran's democratic interlude was the clerical estate, and the
Islamic Republic should not be able to whitewash the clerics'

The dramatic tale of malevolent Americans plotting a coup against
Mossadeq, the famed Operation Ajax, has been breathlessly told so much
that it has become a verity. To be fair, the cast of characters is
bewildering: Kermit Roosevelt, the scion of America's foremost political
family, paying thugs to agitate against the hapless Mossadeq; American
operatives shoring up an indecisive monarch to return from exile and
reclaim his throne; Communist firebrands and nationalist agitators
participating in demonstrations financed by the United States. As Iran
veered from crisis to crisis, the story goes, Roosevelt pressed a
reluctant officer corps to end Mossadeq's brief but momentous democratic

Yet this fable conceals much about the actual course of events. In 1953
Iran was in the mids... >>>

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