Inside The Iran Sanctions

People make their way on a sidewalk in downtown Tehran, Iran, Monday, July 30, 2018. Iran's currency has dropped to a record low ahead of the imposition of renewed American sanctions, with many fearing prolonged economic suffering or possible civil unrest. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

People make their way on a sidewalk in downtown Tehran, Iran, Monday, July 30, 2018. Iran's currency has dropped to a record low ahead of the imposition of renewed American sanctions, with many fearing prolonged economic suffering or possible civil unrest. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

With Eric Westervelt (@Ericnpr)

Automobiles, gold, steel. The Trump administration reimposes financial sanctions on Iran, with those on oil to come. Where might this hard-line policy lead?


Thomas Erdbrink, Tehran bureau chief for The New York Times. (@ThomasErdbrink)

Reuel Marc Gerecht, senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Former director of the Middle East Initiative at the Project for the New American Century and Middle East specialist at the CIA’s Directorate of Operations.

Jarrett Blanc, senior fellow in the Geoeconomics and Strategy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Former State Department coordinator for Iran nuclear implementation at the U.S. Department of State under President Obama, where he was responsible for the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program. (@JarrettBlanc)

From The Reading List

On Point

48:00Aug 6, 2018

New York Times: "Protests Pop Up Across Iran, Fueled by Daily Dissatisfaction" — "Across Iran’s heartland, from the sweltering heat of its southern cities to the bustling capital, protesters have taken to the streets with increasing intensity in recent months, much to the satisfaction of the Trump administration, which is hoping the civil unrest will put pressure on Iranian leaders.

"Some demonstrations — about the weak economy, strict Islamic rules, water shortages, religious disputes, local grievances — have turned deadly. The protesters have shouted harsh slogans against clerical leaders and their policies. The events are broadly shared on social media and on the dozens of Persian language satellite channels beaming into the Islamic republic.

"On Thursday, protests were held in the cities of Arak, Isfahan, Karaj and Shiraz, as people — in numbers ranging in the hundreds, perhaps more — took to the streets, chanting slogans like “death to high prices,” but also criticizing top officials. A smaller protest was held in Tehran, where some people were arrested, according to videos taken at the scene."

The Weekly Standard: "The Preeminent Challenge: For President Trump and His Foreign Polic..." — "The biggest foreign-policy challenge before Donald Trump isn’t North Korea, where the usual pattern of diplomacy and deception persists. Nor is it Russia; it doesn’t have the muscle to take on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which isn’t dead yet. Nor is the most imminent problem China, which doesn’t have the navy and air force to tempt fate in the South and East China Seas. It will one day really challenge the United States and East Asia’s democratic and anti-Chinese authoritarian states—the type of fascist confrontation that could lead to carnage—but Washington probably has years to check Beijing’s ambitions.

"The most troublesome, immediate challenge comes from Iran. Trump’s decision to walk away from his predecessor’s deeply flawed arms-control agreement will likely soon consume the administration’s attention since, depending on what the mullahs do, war may once more be on the horizon. If the president fails to corral the clerics and the Revolutionary Guards through sanctions and the threat of force, the reverberations will surely weaken, if not gut, the administration’s capacity to play hardball elsewhere. Barack Obama punted the Iranian nuclear problem down the road slightly (and didn’t really pivot to Asia). Trump has probably eliminated the possibility of punting. He now may have to deal with Iran more decisively than his predecessors."

The Trump administration is reimposing economic sanctions on Iran, putting new pressure on the Shiite power and fraying relations with European allies. In a tweet the president today warned, "Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!" Others worry Trump's hard-line policy will only worsen regional and world tensions.

This hour, On Point: America and Iran — the way forward.

— Eric Westervelt

This program aired on August 7, 2018.

1953 Iranian coup d'état

The 1953 Iranian coup d'état, known in Iran as the 28 Mordad coup d'état (Persian: کودتای ۲۸ مرداد‎), was the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in favour of strengthening the monarchical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the United Kingdom (under the name "Operation Boot") and the United States (under the name TPAJAX Project[5] or "Operation Ajax").[6][7][8][9]

Mossadegh had sought to audit the documents of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), a British corporation (now part of BP) and to limit the company's control over Iranian oil reserves. Upon the refusal of the AIOC to co-operate with the Iranian government, the parliament (Majlis) voted to nationalize Iran's oil industry and to expel foreign corporate representatives from the country.[10][11][12] After this vote, Britain instigated a worldwide boycott of Iranian oil to pressure Iran economically.[13] Initially, Britain mobilized its military to seize control of the British-built Abadan oil refinery, then the world's largest, but Prime Minister Clement Attlee opted instead to tighten the economic boycott[14] while using Iranian agents to undermine Mosaddegh's government.[15] Judging Mosaddegh to be unreliable and fearing a Communist takeover in Iran, UK prime minister Winston Churchill and the Eisenhower administration decided to overthrow Iran's government, though the predecessor Truman administration had opposed a coup, fearing the precedent that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) involvement would set.[16] British intelligence officials′ conclusions and the UK government′s solicitations were instrumental in initiating and planning the coup, despite the fact that the U.S. government in 1952 had been considering unilateral action (without UK support) to assist the Mosaddegh government.[17][18][19] In August 2013, sixty years afterward, the U.S. government formally acknowledged the U.S. role in the coup by releasing a bulk of previously classified government documents that show it was in charge of both the planning and the execution of the coup, including the bribing of Iranian politicians, security and army high-ranking officials, as well as pro-coup propaganda.[20][21] The CIA is quoted acknowledging the coup was carried out "under CIA direction" and "as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government".[22]

Following the coup in 1953, a government under General Fazlollah Zahedi was formed which allowed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran (Persian for an Iranian king),[23] to rule more firmly as monarch. He relied heavily on United States support to hold on to power.[10][11][12][24] According to the CIA's declassified documents and records, some of the most feared mobsters in Tehran were hired by the CIA to stage pro-Shah riots on 19 August. Other CIA-paid men were brought into Tehran in buses and trucks, and took over the streets of the city.[25] Between 200[3] and 300[4] people were killed because of the conflict. Mosaddegh was arrested, tried and convicted of treason by the Shah's military court. On 21 December 1953, he was sentenced to three years in jail, then placed under house arrest for the remainder of his life.[26][27][28] Other Mosaddegh supporters were imprisoned, and several received the death penalty.[12] After the coup, the Shah continued his rule as monarch for the next 26 years[11][12] until he was overthrown in the Iranian Revolution in 1979.[11][12][29]

United States role

As a condition for restoring the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, in 1954 the U.S. required removal of the AIOC's monopoly; five American petroleum companies, Royal Dutch Shell, and the Compagnie Française des Pétroles, were to draw Iran's petroleum after the successful coup d'état—Operation Ajax. The Shah declared this to be a "victory" for Iranians, with the massive influx of money from this agreement resolving the economic collapse from the last three years, and allowing him to carry out his planned modernization projects.[12]

As part of that, the CIA organized anti-Communist guerrillas to fight the Tudeh Party if they seized power in the chaos of Operation Ajax.[80] Released National Security Archive documents showed that Undersecretary of State Walter Bedell Smith reported that the CIA had agreed with Qashqai tribal leaders, in south Iran, to establish a clandestine safe haven from which U.S.-funded guerrillas and spies could operate.[80][81]

Operation Ajax's formal leader was senior CIA officer Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., while career agent Donald Wilber was the operational leader, planner, and executor of the deposition of Mosaddegh. The coup d'état depended on the impotent Shah's dismissing the popular and powerful Prime Minister and replacing him with General Fazlollah Zahedi, with help from Colonel Abbas Farzanegan—a man agreed upon by the British and Americans after determining his anti-Soviet politics.[81]

The CIA sent Major General Norman Schwarzkopf Sr. to persuade the exiled Shah to return to rule Iran. Schwarzkopf trained the security forces that would become known as SAVAK to secure the shah's hold on power.[82]

The coup was carried out by the U.S. administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower in a covert action advocated by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, and implemented under the supervision of his brother Allen Dulles, the Director of Central Intelligence.[83] The coup was organized by the United States' CIA and the United Kingdom's MI6, two spy agencies that aided royalists and royalist elements of the Iranian army.[84] Much of the money was channeled through the pro-Shah Ayatollah Mohammad Behbahani, who drew many religious masses to the plot. Ayatollah Kashani had completely turned on Mossadegh and supported the Shah, by this point.[10]

According to a heavily redacted CIA document[85] released to the National Security Archive in response to a Freedom of Information request, "Available documents do not indicate who authorized CIA to begin planning the operation, but it almost certainly was President Eisenhower himself. Eisenhower biographer Stephen Ambrose has written that the absence of documentation reflected the President's style."

The CIA document then quotes from the Ambrose biography of Eisenhower:

Before going into the operation, Ajax had to have the approval of the President. Eisenhower participated in none of the meetings that set up Ajax; he received only oral reports on the plan; and he did not discuss it with his Cabinet or the NSC. Establishing a pattern he would hold to throughout his Presidency, he kept his distance and left no documents behind that could implicate the President in any projected coup. But in the privacy of the Oval Office, over cocktails, he was kept informed by Foster Dulles, and he maintained a tight control over the activities of the CIA.[86]

Confirmation for execution of Operation Ajax

CIA officer Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., the grandson of former President Theodore Roosevelt, carried out the operation planned by CIA agent Donald Wilber. One version of the CIA history, written by Wilber, referred to the operation as TPAJAX.[87][88]

During the coup, Roosevelt and Wilber, representatives of the Eisenhower administration, bribed Iranian government officials, reporters, and businessmen. They also bribed street thugs to support the Shah and oppose Mosaddegh.[89] The deposed Iranian leader, Mosaddegh, was taken to jail and Iranian General Fazlollah Zahedi named himself prime minister in the new, pro-western government.

Another tactic Roosevelt admitted to using was bribing demonstrators into attacking symbols of the Shah, while chanting pro-Mossadegh slogans. As king, the Shah was largely seen as a symbol of Iran at the time by many Iranians and monarchists. Roosevelt declared that the more that these agents showed their hate for the Shah and attacked his symbols, the more it caused the average Iranian citizen to dislike and distrust Mossadegh.[90]

Shaban Jafari, commonly known as Shaban the Brainless (Shaban Bimokh), was a notable pro-Shah strongman and thug. He led his men and other bribed street thugs and was a prominent figure during the coup.

The overthrow of Iran's elected government in 1953 ensured Western control of Iran's petroleum resources and prevented the Soviet Union from competing for Iranian oil.[91][92][93][94] Some Iranian clerics cooperated with the western spy agencies because they were dissatisfied with Mosaddegh's secular government.[89]

While the broad outlines of the operation are known, "...the C.I.A.'s records were widely thought by historians to have the potential to add depth and clarity to a famous but little-documented intelligence operation," reporter Tim Weiner wrote in The New York Times 29 May 1997.[95]

"The Central Intelligence Agency, which has repeatedly pledged for more than five years to make public the files from its secret mission to overthrow the government of Iran in 1953, said today that it had destroyed or lost almost all the documents decades ago."[95][96][97]

A historian who was a member of the C.I.A. staff in 1992 and 1993 said in an interview today that the records were obliterated by "a culture of destruction" at the agency. The historian, Nick Cullather, said he believed that records on other major cold war covert operations had been burned, including those on secret missions in Indonesia in the 1950s and a successful C.I.A.-sponsored coup in Guyana in the early 1960s. "Iran—there's nothing", Mr. Cullather said. "Indonesia—very little. Guyana—that was burned."[95]

Donald Wilber, one of the CIA officers who planned the 1953 coup in Iran, wrote an account titled, Clandestine Service History Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran: November 1952 – August 1953. Wilber said one goal of the coup was to strengthen the Shah.

In 2000, James Risen at The New York Times obtained the previously secret CIA version of the coup written by Wilber and summarized[98] its contents, which includes the following.

In early August, the C.I.A. stepped up the pressure. Iranian operatives pretending to be Communists threatened Muslim leaders with "savage punishment if they opposed Mossadegh," seeking to stir anti-Communist sentiment in the religious community.

In addition, the secret history says, the house of at least one prominent Muslim was bombed by C.I.A. agents posing as Communists. It does not say whether anyone was hurt in this attack.

The agency was also intensifying its propaganda campaign. A leading newspaper owner was granted a personal loan of about $45,000, "in the belief that this would make his organ amenable to our purposes."

But the shah remained intransigent. In a 1 August meeting with General Norman Schwarzkopf, he refused to sign the C.I.A.-written decrees firing Mr. Mossadegh and appointing General Zahedi. He said he doubted that the army would support him in a showdown.

The National Security Archive at George Washington University contains the full account by Wilber, along with many other coup-related documents and analysis.[99][100][101]

In a January 1973 telephone conversation made public in 2009, U.S. President Richard Nixon told CIA Director Richard Helms, who was awaiting Senate confirmation to become the new U.S. Ambassador to Iran, that Nixon wanted Helms to be a "regional ambassador" to Persian Gulf oil states, and noted that Helms had been a schoolmate of Shah Reza Pahlavi.[102]

Release of U.S. government records and official acknowledgement

In August 2013, on the sixtieth anniversary of the coup, the U.S. government released documents showing they were involved in staging the coup. The documents also describe the motivations behind the coup and the strategies used to stage it.[8] The UK had sought to censor information regarding its role in the coup; a significant number of documents about the coup still remained classified.[21] The release of the declassified documents, which marked the first U.S. official acknowledgement of its role, was seen as a goodwill gesture on the part of the Obama administration.[103][21]

In June 2017, the United States State Department's Office of the Historian released its revised historical account of the event. The volume of historical records "focuses on the evolution of U.S. thinking on Iran as well as the U.S. Government covert operation that resulted in Mosadeq's overthrow on August 19, 1953".[104] Though some of the relevant records were destroyed long ago, the release contains a collection of roughly 1,000 pages, only a small number of which remain classified.[105] One revalation is that the CIA "attempted to call off the failing coup but was salvaged by an insubordinate spy."[106]

'Into The Hands Of The Soldiers' Explores How The U.S. Contributed To Chaos In Egypt


New York Times correspondent David Kirkpatrick says the Obama White House watched Arab democracy fall, and now the Trump administration is embracing Egypt's autocratic president.

Views: 76

Comment by mary gravitt on August 8, 2018 at 1:00pm

We must beware of the role the US played in the Middle East in making war.  Trump has engaged in the destruction of Iran for the sake of his deal with Sheldon Adleson.  He has made a Devil's bargain with the Sunni Arabs to destroy the Shia nation of Iran and Yemen.  If the US can be an ally of Israel, and back the war on Yemen, rescue Christians in Turkey, then why can't Iran help its fellow Shia nations in the Middle East.  The only invader in the Middle East is the United States.

Comment by mary gravitt on August 8, 2018 at 1:08pm


Comment by koshersalaami on August 8, 2018 at 1:38pm

I don’t get the title. The post seems to be about American and British policy toward Iran. 

Comment by mary gravitt on August 9, 2018 at 11:20am

I misspelled the title.  But what I mean is that in the end, no one will blame America, but everyone will blame the Jews/Israel for the fire that will grow out of canceling the Iran Deal.  Israel depends on the Religious-Right, who wishes death to Israeli's so that Christ will walk, Sheldon Adelson's money, and greed and bigotry of Trump to side with them.  But these false hope to place the security of a nation on because they depend on suppressing the feelings of the American peoples who do not know the history of Operation Ajax.

Iran has no reason to trust American leaders.  Americans have always lied and cheated them by overthrowing it first and only democracy in the name of capitalism.  Israel wants to be the suzerain of the Middle East as has been verified by Avaham Burg in The Holocaust Is Over.  Peace is something that will never occur in the Middle East as long as the United States interferes in the nations that are located in the Middle East including Israel with Netanyahu in charge.

Comment by koshersalaami on August 9, 2018 at 12:25pm

I wouldn’t bet on Israel seeking suzerainty, except perhaps over the West Bank and Gaza, and then it depends on which Israelis, not “Israel.” I agree about Netanyahu 

Comment by moki ikom on August 14, 2018 at 1:38am

UK zionaUSeum ala zionazi isrealHell in Palestine dyspepsia: 

Corbyn Fires Back at Netanyahu's Criticism, Slams Israeli Nation State Law

© REUTERS / Peter Nicholls
03:48 14.08.2018(updated 11:06 14.08.2018)
"Israeli PM @Netanyahu's claims about my actions and words are false. What deserves unequivocal condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including dozens of children… The nation state law sponsored by @Netanyahu's government discriminates against Israel's Palestinian minority," Corbyn wrote in response.
Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on August 14, 2018 at 6:13am

Image result for corbyn bribes meme

Comment by koshersalaami on August 14, 2018 at 7:35am

If Netanyahu were the only person accusing Corbyn, you both might have a point, but the major accusations against Corbyn haven’t come from Israeli Jews but from British Jews. I find the idea that Netanyahu being among Corbyn’s accusers makes Corbyn right to be a very interesting exercise in logic. Actually not interesting, just screamingly fallacious. 

Comment by mary gravitt on August 15, 2018 at 9:55am

In any event Howard Zinn tried to warn the leaders of Israel how the US uses them in the Middle East as dogs of war.  Trump who is a worst opportunist than Netanyahu only wants glory for himself and does not care what happens to the Israel peoples.  It is better to have peace with your neighbors than peace with the United States when your security depends on some half-baked Christian-Right hypocrites that want a whole nation to dies so that their Man-God and walk.


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