By Karema Akifa Saleh, E-MAIL
Propaganda was at the helm of the Iranian Hostage crisis of 1979, during President Jimmy Carter’s administration. The following was quoted from President Jimmy Carter’s Library “On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran and took approximately seventy Americans captive. This terrorist act triggered the most profound crisis of the Carter presidency and began a personal ordeal for Jimmy Carter and the American people that lasted 444 days.”
If you were old enough to remember, Iran was painted as a demonic nation of blood thirsty Muslim clerics, and wild young militants out to attack American without provocation. We were all fed the same propaganda- America the victim against radicals extremist. The Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza (a known brutal corrupt dictator) was also portrayed as the western friendly victim. The world was fixated on the this crisis however the real story was never told in the media.
The real story of the 1953 Coup the British and United States government was involved with to over through Mohammad Mossadegh, the western friendly, democratically elected Prime Minister who was also named Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year in 1951.” Iran had enjoyed friendly relationships with the United States under President Harry Truman.
“U.S. Policy toward Iran under Truman was to support the Mosaddeq government and seek and end to the oil dispute through diplomatic means.” At the same time the U.S government was aware of British covert activities against Mosaddeq. The relationship was never an honest one.
In conjunction with diplomatic activities, at some point the British and U.S. government jointly participated in covert missions against the Iranians. The United States had always feared a strong Soviet influence and started an operation codenamed BEDAMN during 1948. BEDAMN was a propaganda and political action program run through a network headed by two Iranians.
The United State’s Operation Ajax (now declassified) promoted intense psychological campaigns, black operations, infiltration of agents and provocateurs, included payoffs, attacks on Masajid, and pushing a more fundamentalist line to create chaos and drive away Mosaddeq. According to the book “All the Sha’s Men, an American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, by Stephen Kinzer “Mobs and military units whose leaders were on the CIA payroll would crush any attempt by Mossadegh to resist. Then it would be announced that the Shah had chosen general Fazlollah Zahedi, a retired military officer who had received more than 100,000 from the CIA, as Iran’s new prime minister. By the beginning of August, Tehran was afire. Mobs working for the CIA staged anti –Mossadegh protest, marching through the streets carrying portraits of the Shah and chanting royalist slogans….” What was Mosaddeq” crime?
Mosaddeq wanted to nationalize the oil, which was in direct conflict with the oil thirsty British Government which owned 50 stocks and had become imperialist rather than partners in Iran’s Oil industry. The British were outraged seeing what they called Persians as being backwards and barbaric with no rights to their own land or oil industry. To retaliate, the British tried to starve Iran’s economy through embargos on oil, iron, steel, sugar, oil processing equipment and goods that could be resold for dollars…..
In retrospect the Iranians had every bit of right to distrust and bitterly appose U.S and British interest in their country. What is most surprising is how the media covered up the 1953 Coup during the Hostage crisis of 1979. Had the public known about the events surrounding the coup, there would have been more understanding politically for reasons the Iranians bitterly apposed the British and the Americans. The public would have understood our governments double standards and false democracy in the Middle East which had long term ramifications even up today. This nation’s actions did more harm to the peace and stability of the Middle East than any Islamic or political group had ever.
Will we make the same mistake by going to war with Iran in 2007?