Very impressed with Bernie Sanders at the #DemDebate for bringing up Mosaddegh, the democratically elected secular and progressive Prime Minister of Iran, who was overthrown in a coup orchestrated by the United States and the United Kingdom in order to protect British and American oil interests. Sanders brought this up to highlight the negative consequences of foreign intervention.
A little background, for those who are not familiar with Mosaddegh:
Mohammad Mosaddegh became the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran. He was a 71 year old lawyer, very well-educated in Paris and Switzerland. His whole life had been dedicated to the cause of bringing more liberty to Iran and having a constitutional government in his country. Under his leadership, the Iranian parliament voted to nationalize Iranian oil, instead of allowing the British, through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), to take away the majority of profits from Iran’s oil fields. In reaction to this, the British government imposed sanctions on Iran so that no oil could be exported from the country. This created a huge surge of economical problems and increased poverty. Meanwhile, Mossadegh, being a secular leader, had also infuriated Islamists for wanting Iran to be ruled as a secular democracy. The British government seized the opportunity of internal conflict, coupled with growing financial problems, to work with the American government, in order to oust Mossadegh. In 1953 a successful operation by the British and the American CIA was able to create a massive uprising in Iran by the angry Islamist groups, as well as others, to take Mossadegh out. It is very important to note that prior to this event Iranian people did not even view the American government with hostility, the British government had always been the one that they blamed for taking their natural resources. After the successful coup, the Shah was reinstated, the monarchy was restored, a secret service police named SAVAK was created to crackdown on political dissident, and of course the oil dispute came to an end with a huge portion of Iran’s oil profits going to foreign superpowers, including a large amount to the United States. The Anglo-Iranian Oil company was then renamed British Petroleum, and that marked Iran’s short lived and only ever secular democracy. Never did I expect to hear an American politician running to be the president of the country openly mention this and highlight how disastrous it was!