Friday, April 8, 2022

The Consequences of the 1953 Coup

The CIA orchestrated 1953 coup in Iran confirmed the widespread notion in the Middle East and North Africa that America had replaced Britain as the main imperialist power. The people in these regions were convinced that while their oil industry was in the hands of Western private companies, their nation would be treated as a Western colony. 

Radical states like Libya, Iraq, and Algeria, and theocratic monarchies such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, nationalized their oil industry in quick succession. Having learned from the 1953 coup in Iran, these nations took precautions to make sure that their government was not overthrown by the American and British spy organizations. The irony is that while Iran was the first Middle Eastern nation to try to nationalize its oil industry, it was last to complete the process—its oil industry was nationalized after the 1979 revolution. 

Before the 1953 coup, the opposition that the Western powers faced in Iran was secular—consisting of democratic movements such as those led by Prime Minister Mosaddegh, and communist movements such as the Tudeh Party. By orchestrating the coup, the Americans had inadvertently awakened a sleeping giant: Radical Islam. During the Middle Ages, the Western crusaders were trounced by radical Islam. In the twentieth century, history repeated itself: once again radical Islam had driven the West out of the Middle East. 

After the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the contest between the West (led by America) and Islam was not limited to the control of the Middle Eastern oil industry. It had moved beyond the confines of the Middle East and taken a global dimension. The two sides were now contesting for power all over the world, including the heartlands of the Western civilization: Western Europe and North America.

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