Were Regime-Changes of Iran in 1953 Inspired by the Goal of Furthering Democracy or Furthering an Economic Interest?
American policymakers believed that Iran could not survive without an agreement that would restart the flow of oil, something Mossadegh appeared unable to secure. There was widespread skepticism of his government’s ability to manage an “oil-less” economy, as well as fears that such a situation would lead inexorably to communist rule.
The "28 Mordad" coup, as it is known by its Persian date, was a watershed for Iran, for the Middle East and for the standing of the United States in the region. The joint U.S.-British operation ended Iran's drive to assert sovereign control over its own resources and helped put an end to a vibrant chapter in the history of the country's nationalist and democratic movements. These consequences resonated with dramatic effect in later years. When the Shah finally fell in 1979, memories of the U.S. intervention in 1953, which made possible the monarch's subsequent, and increasingly unpopular, 25-reign intensified the anti-American character of the revolution in the minds of many Iranians.
The overthrow is now complete, and later the same day Army General Fazlollah Zahedi announces that he is Iran’s new Prime Minister and that his forces now control the city. At the time, and for many years following the coup d’état which overthrew Prime Minister Mossadeq almost no one, outside of British and US intelligence and their Iranian operatives and collaborators, would have ever dreamed that this horrific scene was entirely fabricated, designed, and orchestrated by a new world power—the United States of America and their top intelligence agency, the CIA. Hard to believe as it might be, this is no movie scene, but a sad narrative that lies at the heart of modern US-Iranian relations (Amin Saikal, 1980).
The article argues that, while the coup was successful in getting rid of Mossadegh, its negative short-term and long-term consequences in Iran but also for the United States weigh heavily. Without thorough analysis why it nearly failed, the coup became a fatal catalyst for other interventions of the CIA that led to the Bay of Pigs disaster. If intelligence activities lose their moral dimension and if success is exclusively measured by ‘mission accomplished’, in the end more will be lost than gained.
Mark J. Gasiorowski, "The CIA's TPBEDAMN Operation and the 1953 Coup in Iran." Journal of Cold War Studies 15, no. 4 (2013): 20
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Pompeo: U.S. Looks to Change Iranian Behavior, Not Regime” (May 25, 2018)
Amin Saikal, The Rise and Fall of the Shah (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), 13.
Ervand Abrahamian, The Coup: 1953, The CIA and the Roots of Modern U.S.- Iranian Relations (New York: New Press, 2013), 18.