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BP: The unfinished crimes and plunder of Anglo-American imperialism

Frederic F. Clairmont | 10.08.2010 08:10 | Anti-militarism | History | Repression | South Coast | World

In the light of British Petroleum’s grotesque crime, as yet unfinished, against humanity in the Gulf of Mexico it is well to recall briefly BP’s no less hideous crime perpetrated in its earlier incarnation as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) and its further name change to the Anglo Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) in 1936. At the century’s turn, William D’Arcy, financial tycoon and politician, pursuing the advice of his financial associate and empire builder Cecil Rhodes frantically began his quest for oil in the Persian Gulf.

Little did the masters of British imperialism realize that one of the most dazzling El Dorado’s in the long and tortured history of British imperialism would soon be born? Geo-politically it would have reverberations well beyond the region of the Persian Gulf. It was one of the most decisive steps in the march of imperial globalization, the speed-up the concentration of capital and the resulting imperialist rivalries.

1. In the light of British Petroleum’s grotesque crime, as yet unfinished, against humanity in the Gulf of Mexico it is well to recall briefly BP’s no less hideous crime perpetrated in its earlier incarnation as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) and its further name change to the Anglo Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) in 1936. At the century’s turn, William D’Arcy, financial tycoon and politician, pursuing the advice of his financial associate and empire builder Cecil Rhodes frantically began his quest for oil in the Persian Gulf.

Little did the masters of British imperialism realize that one of the most dazzling El Dorado’s in the long and tortured history of British imperialism would soon be born? Geo-politically it would have reverberations well beyond the region of the Persian Gulf. It was one of the most decisive steps in the march of imperial globalization, the speed-up the concentration of capital and the resulting imperialist rivalries.

2. In 1908, one of the biggest oil discoveries of all times was consummated and APOC was established as a joint venture with the British government (with the Admiralty gobbling up a sizeable chunk of its total shares). It was only decades later that BP was privatized by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In record time, Abadan became the world’s largest refinery. Not only did the advent of APOC herald one of the major triumphs in the struggle for global oil and the striving for bigger and bigger market shares, but no less so its ascendancy blazed new horizons for a galloping imperialism in what was to become the world’s major strategic commodities with the onrush of the automobile age. The reverberations of the production and marketing of this commodity- earlier labeled black gold by Rockefeller - at a moment when imperialism’s first major holocaust (1914-1918) was about to erupt revolutionized the world economy.

3. APOC’s ascendancy owed nothing to the free play of market forces idealized by mythmakers of economic liberalism, but to the marriage of big capital and the thrust of imperial financial power for enhanced control of world markets. As with the earlier conquests and brutal territorial annexations of Cecil Rhodes and ‘dirt cheap nigger labour” - the racist nostrum used by Lord Salisbury - it signalized the marriage of Big Capital and the imperial political military complex. The pivotal actor in this compulsive planetary drive to market supremacy and control was Winston Churchill, soon to become first

4.As with Cecil Rhodes' earlier African conquests – from the Cape to Cairo - Churchill (a personal friend of both Rhodes and d’Arcy) grasped immediately the potential of APOC to alter the balance of geo-political power in favour of British imperialism now facing the life and death challenge of German imperialism. It proved a major catalyst in the enhancement of the global reach and unchallenged supremacy of the Royal Navy and the British merchant marine.

5 An El Dorado of boundless prospects opened up which Churchill labelled without hyperbole one of the greatest pillars of the British empire. Well before APOC came into existence all members of the British ruling class had been big-time investors in the super-lush pickings of empire. APOC added to Churchill’s already immense personal financial spoils and not least to that of the Royal Family. In 1913, he became the First Lord of the Admiralty. Not only was it a prodigious source of accumulation for the entire British ruling class but it also fanned the already raging fires of intensified inter-imperialist rivalries. Imperial’s Germany’s drive into the Ottoman’s Empire backyard was checkmated and pushed back. The Royal Navy successfully blockaded oil supplies to Germany when the war was unleashed.

6. Of crucial strategic importance was that British capitalism had largely ceased to be dependent on the world’s largest petroleum giant, the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey slated to become one if its major economic rivals. With huge British government subsidies, that is the taxpayers money, APOC acquired the world’s largest tanker fleet; it came to dominate the entire oil market from pit head to the retail pump. British imperialism was to reap the benefits of its victory over its imperialist rivals in all ways and APOC was one of the vital catalysts in this battle for the conquest of world markets.

7. With the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, British imperialism turned the newly emergent Iraq into a British neo-colony and the private preserve of APOC. In joint ventures with the British Burmah Oil Company the vast oil reserves of Kirkuk were grabbed and monopolized. This colossus of British imperialism like its contemporary American counterpart, the United Fruit Company (born in 1898), came to enshrine the rapacity of imperialist hegemony. As with the UFC, its corporate existence was to be soaked in blood, political intrigue and manipulation of the highest order.

The Nemesis

8. The debacle of German, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and Russian imperialism did not lead to the end of imperialist rivalries but rather to intensified drives for enhanced market conquests in the crisis-stricken years and decades that followed. State terrorism, not dialogue, became the exclusive instrument of imperial rule.

The year 1919 signalized a turning point in the history of APOC, in Iran, and indeed throughout the Middle East, yet another imperialist designation.

It marked the first organized strike at the Abadan refinery. More than 30 workers were killed by the Shah’s army acting in concert with the special armed constabulary created by the company.

Dozens were wounded. It was at this point that MI-6 began its close working relationship with the company. Many of the strike leaders and militant workers who slipped through the gauntlet were arrested and tortured in prisons located on the premises of the oil fields. But what the APOC/MI-6 duo could never have imagined were the long term revolutionary reverberations that these well- coordinated and organized strikes would engender.

9. APOC had taken the leap into sustained state terrorism as had the masters of the Colonial Office and British imperialism. The Rubicon had been crossed.

The first major strike of a colonized working class in the Middle East triggered a political firestorm that would reshape the political configuration but of course it was not an isolated event. They were meshed into the burgeoning colonial struggles that had now become ubiquitous.

The mass peasant uprising in the Mekong Delta was crushed in blood by the Foreign Legion in 1919.It was one of the largest single massacres in colonial history. More than a thousand men, women and children were massacred. “The peaceful colonial world that we inherited from our parents is now exploding”. Lugubriously noted David Lloyd George. Of course the anti-colonial revolt and battle for freedom had begun earlier with the Easter Uprising (1916) in Ireland.

10.These killings in Abadan occurred (April 1919) simultaneously with those of the mass murder in Jallianwala Bagh (Amritsar) in which General Dyer’s Gurkha mercenaries slaughtered (according to the official count that was grotesquely understated) 279 non-violent Satyagrahis and leaving 200 gasping for life on the ground. This act of imperial butchery in Dyer’s arrogant words “was to teach the natives that the power of the British Empire was not to be trifled with”. But now that power would be challenged not only in the sub-continent but universally.

11. The Abadan strike had extensive political ramifications in other major cities and over- spilled into the countryside; it was the crucial catalyst in the creation of the Iranian Communist Party in 1920. Many of the leading strike militants were destined to become members of the party’s central committee. Their political mission to Moscow in that decisive year was of epochal significance as it blueprinted the party’s central theses which were nationalization without compensation of the entire productive and marketing operations of APOC and its infrastructure; this was combined with the further plan for the expropriation of the large landed estates ; the democratization of the armed forces and the creation of newly established worker/.peasant military militias. The struggle against APOC revealed the first fledging roots of the party’s internationalism. .

12. This was a revolutionary platform that left no space for reconciliation with the existing order of British imperialism and the likes of APOC. Here was a concrete example of the workings of the Third International. Many of the party’s future leaders held discussions with Lenin, Zinoviev, Bukharin and Karl Radek in which their strategies for seizure of State power were framed. The imperialist wars of interventions (1918-1921) against the October Revolution had not yet ended when discussions with the beleaguered but soon to be triumphant Soviet leadership got underway.

13. Easily conceivable was that the backlash of APOC which had already co-opted many segments of the Iranian ruling class , the army and the higher clergy with its massive payoffs was immediate. Churchill and the masters of APOC grasped the revolutionary significance of this new politico- ideological orientation. That was not too difficult given the international revolutionary context, and the fact that foreign imperialist powers were waging a life and death struggle to annihilate the emergent forces of the October Revolution whose existence threatened the existing order.

14. The specter of anti-communism was raised. APOC published and distributed thousands of pamphlets fulminating that the party’s blueprint for the overhaul of existing property relations would be an onslaught against Islam... It would inexorably, lead given the corollaries of their policy inferences, to the extermination of the landed aristocracy, the monarchy, private property and wholesale destruction of law and order. Such were the ideological onslaughts that would endure until the ouster of Mossier decades later. The party was attacked on all fronts. The incipient trade union movement was victimized but never successfully undermined as subsequent decades revealed. The military, seeing the potential threat that the party and its freedom manifestos posed to its class privileges and prerogatives , was instrumental in imprisoning hundreds of party members and those suspected of ‘seditious conduct’ in the language of Reza Shah Pahlavi. State terrorism had now become a grim and present reality. A giant concentration camp in the desert area of the south west. Thousands of its victims were liberated only in 1979.

15. Mohammad Mossadeq (1882-1967)[1] whose active political life was galvanized at the start of the twenties grasped the wider meaning of the party’s programme, but recoiled from their offer of elaborating a popular front movement. It was his first strategic political blunder that he came to regret as he stated time and time again during his imprisonment after the coup and subsequent years of house arrest. This, too, was understandable because Mossadeq was a landed aristocrat who coddled the utopian illusion that APOC could be persuaded to agree to some sort of profit sharing and equitable marketing arrangement. He was what I called a reconciliationist. a believer that the sheep and the wolves could peacefully co-exist. It was a perspective shared by Salvador Allende. The upshot we all know. Let me say in parenthesis that I had a long interview with Allende a short time before his delusions, and of course his life, was shattered by the bullets and the jackboots of the Pinochet/Kissinger coup.

16. This was proof sufficient that this well-intentioned western educated bourgeois intellectual , and I refer specifically to Nehru and Krishna Menon, had never been fully unshackled from the cultural stranglehold of imperialism. A theme that Edward Said had analyzed perceptively in his chef d’oeuvre, Culture and Imperialism. As a self-styled nationalist his goal in the twenties and early thirties was never to effectuate changes in the social propertied relations of Iran. That was true not only of the monarchy and the landed estates but also to APOC. He strenuously believed that reason could prevail and that capitalism was an economic engine susceptible to be modified, that is to be more humane. He failed miserably to understand the Gandhian truth that there could be no such thing as ‘equality between unequals.’

17. The thirties and the horrors of the Great Depression crystallized and radicalized his thinking in several ways. The visceral hatred on the part of his own social class to his persona and his policies became clearer as the crisis deepened. As Zahedi, his Interior Minister and later his hatchet man who demanded that he be hanged after the successful putsch said later: “he was a an unredeemable criminal that betrayed his class”. The advent of Nazi oriented parties in Iran deepened his insights of the dynamics of imperialism and their domestic stooges. He had ceased to live in a cocooned world.

18. What was important was that as an acute intellectual, a citizen of a quasi-colonial country who travelled widely within Iran, the Middle East and Europe during those years of ascendant Fascism and brutal colonial repression, Mossadeq grasped the significance of the changes then shaking the colonial world and the nature of European fascism. He came to realize that Fascism, despite its parliamentary and non parliamentary variants was a bulwark of imperialism and the racism that partnered it. His theoretical insights were soon to be metamorphosed into concrete policy directives. The Great Depression, trailed by the collapse of commodity prices and mass joblessness on a scale unprecedented in capitalism’s history, brought him closer to the resistance movements in the colonial world. India became a formative influence in his thinking and the nationalist policies that flowed from it. His encounters and lengthy exchanges with such legendary nationalist resistance leaders as Nehru, Gandhi and above all Krishna Menon were of decisive importance.

19. Mossadeq, as Menon said to me on many occasions in Bangalore, enshrined the qualities and dilemmas and shortcomings of many colonial intellectuals. True, Mossadeq shifted ideological gears in the crisis-strapped thirties but it was a radicalization or rather conversion that stopped short of hammering out a full-blooded militant working relationship with the I C P. The latter had renamed itself the Tudeh party in l941.

The shifting trajectory

20. A crucial date in Mossadeq’s political trajectory (and that of APOC) was the forced abdication in 1941 of Reza Shah Pahlavi succeeded by his son Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. The date was of immense geo-political significance. It coincided with the first massive Soviet offensive that pushed the Wehrmacht 200kms west of Moscow and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. The anti-Fascist coalition gave a new impetus to the resistance struggle. Oil was being marketed to the Soviet Union for the first time despite APOC’s stiff resistance. Tide’s new strategy was to resist calls for precipitous nationalization... Its central goal aimed at extending its organizational power base throughout the country by mobilizing the industrial working class and the peasantry and making deep inroads into the armed forces...

21. This policy orientation moved in tandem with closer collaborative work with the National Front. This new turn was masterly summarized in the proclamation of the Tide’s central Committee. Couched in a language of moderation it was nonetheless interpreted by the ruling class, APOC and imperialism as an open declaration of war.

“Our long term goal is the building of a coherent socialist society. That means that democracy, social justice, equality before the law. Elimination of repression and violence against our people will cease to exist. We must extend our organization in all sectors of society in every corner of our land. This marks a deepening of the democratic process. We shall work with those who honestly strive to work with us for a democratized social order. We shall continue to support the struggles of the peoples of the USSR against the fascist barbarians. We shall not act in haste so as not to jeopardize our fraternal relations with our friends and sympathizers.”

22. Although he would return later to Iran from his forced internment in Cyprus the voices of the likes of General Fazlollah Zahedi, a paid Nazi agent and a servant of APOC, was momentarily stilled. He would surface again to fulfill his counter-revolutionary goals at the end of the war. Of great political importance was the appointment of Mossadeq as leader of the Majlis ‘the Iranian parliament in April 1951. The Cold War had scaled new levels of intensity as had the anti-imperialist drive in Iran. On the first of May – and the choice of that day owed nothing to chance – more than 50,000 workers, members of the armed forces, intellectuals and peasants that comprised a large contingent of women massed in front of the Majlis to give their support to the nationalization of APOC. It was a victory that went well beyond the confines of Iran for it was the first successful manifestation of the anti-imperialist struggle.

23. The US backed Synghman Rhee invasion of North Korea was set in motion, and the Chinese volunteers three months later added to the thrust of the internationalist struggle. The war in Indochina had reached a critical phase with the liberation of the frontier areas bordering China. This spelt the end of the geographical isolation of the Vietminh freedom fighters. A frontier of 1,000 kms had now been liberated. Supplies from the USSR and China would now boost the freedom struggle in Indochina. One of his closest aides told me that Mossadeq took time to study the unfolding events in China. An interest or better still ideological commitment that extended to all of South East Asia. His battle with imperialism had propelled him into the front ranks of the anti-colonial struggle.

24. Mossadeq soared to the apogee of his eloquence, reflected in deeds and not only in abstract political ranting, when he thundered:

“We are nationalizing the AIOC because it has systematically over several decades refused to engage in a constructive dialogue with us, Together with the British government it has trampled on our national rights. Their conduct was one of unspeakable arrogance. Our battle for the end of the company’s domination has finally arrived and we shall triumph. It is a war against a beast that has corrupted officials at every level of the government. It has pillaged our ancient nation over decades and reduced us to poverty and humiliation. Above all ours is a struggle for the conquest of our political freedom”.

The rapturous acclamation of the masses drove home to the masters of APOC and the Colonial Office that these were not frivolous words on the part of an opportunist politico begging for crumbs from the white man’s power structure believed it was a creature of fixity and permanence. It was a direct and power blow to the vitals of imperialism glimpsed in their immediate violent reaction. Indeed, in my view, this was one of the mightiest anti-colonial manifestos that had ever been penned...

25 The Churchill government and Lord Beaverbrook’s tabloid yellow press unleashed their venom. Amongst other thing he was dubbed a thieving wog, a Bazaari thug and of course a commie stooge. It did not stop there. The British government designed a serious repressive measures or in the contemporary lingo of Hillary Clinton, ‘crippling sanctions’ that would topple the government and its plans for the takeover of the oil industry. These included an embargo on Iranian oil exports and a warning to world tanker fleets that they would not receive payments from British and European banks if they marketed Iranian oil. The loss of Iranian oil was offset by the boosted production in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. That too was comprehensible since Saudi Arabia was a hostile enemy of Mossadeq’s reforms.

26. A banking boycott by The City on Iranian credit institutions followed. The Seven Sisters whose cartel controlled the global oil market were corralled into the conspiracy to strangle the nationalization decree and topple the government. APOC pulled out its technicians but the workers blocked attempts to dismantle and even at times sabotage its oil installations. The Royal Navy imposed a blockade on the entire Persian Gulf. The USSR for reasons of its own internal policy considerations nd to mollify Churchill, the United States as well as APOC gave no succour to Iran in its moment of dire need, but that too is a long, sad and twisted tale.

27. The UK had taken the matter to the Security Council. It was not surprising that the entire corporate dominated press on both sides of the Atlantic railed against Iran. His discourse on the 15 October was one of the mot tragic utterances of a country that was being raped and pillaged, striving to retain its dignity... It is worth quoting in full.

“It went without saying that as long as the Anglo Iranian Oil Company had a monopoly over this source of national wealth, the government and people of Iran could not enjoy political independence. Despite its business façade, this company is to be considered as the modern counterpart of the old British East India Company, which, in a short span of time extended its control over India. The former Anglo-Iranian Oil Company had an annual income exceeding that of the Iranian government; its foreign trade was larger than that of ours; it intervened actively in the internal affairs of the country, and grossly interfered in our elections to the Majlis and the formation of cabinets, and thus conducting themselves in a manner calculated to wring the greatest profits from resources which it owned and controlled. By a complex conspiratorial network within the country, by widespread corruption of government ministries, and the illegal support to native journalists and politicians, it had in fact created a State within a State. Little by little it sapped the independence of the Iranian nation.”[2]

This is the blueprint of imperial genocide seen in the stricken soul of one of its most legendary victims. This damning indictment of one of the most brazen criminal corporations of all time has never – in my view – been more succinctly portrayed.

28. There was no respite against the progressive and nationalist forces led by Mossadeq. The counter-revolutionary putsch was gathering steam. Churchill who had been in the counter-revolutionary business since 1917. And whose hatred of revolutions and of coloured peoples was legendary, recognized that a bankrupt Britain was incapable on its own of pulling down the Iranian government. He pleaded with Eisenhower, who didn’t need too much urging, in the name of the ‘special relationship’ in bringing down a ‘monster that was threatening Western civilization.’ This was a Manifesto of political genocide. It left nothing unsaid.

“We are fighting a war”, he ranted on, “against a communist offensive that is moving on all fronts. The Chinese terrorists are at our throats in Malaysia. They have a stranglehold of the country. Ho Chi Minh backed by the Chinese and Russian communists are fighting to grab rich Indochina. Sukarno is a communist stooge and the communist takeover of that land endowed with unmatchable oil and mineral and agricultural resources will be grabbed by Peking and Moscow. In Korea, the red hordes of Mao have invaded the country and they are killing Americans in great numbers. Compounding this onslaught is that a communist Russia bent on further conquests has thrown its full weight in support of the war against freedom. The moment has come to halt the drive to communism. For all these reasons we have to root out the tyranny of Mossadeq.”

29. In the corridors of imperial power in Washington the all too familiar Churchillian babble that had been recycled for decades and distillated in the Fulton Missouri Declaration (1945) found a familiar echo in the now militantly expansionist circles of corporate imperialism, underpinned by the political oligarchy in the United States. Of major historical significance aggravating the agony of imperialism was that yet another liberation struggle had taken root in the American backyard which ,ultimately, was to alter as Che Guevara said the history of the Americas and indeed the world as well. President Jacobo Arbenz (1913-1971) scored a crushing electoral victory against the entrenched forces of the Guatemalan oligarchy, the Roman Catholic hierarchy (one of the biggest landowners in all of the Americas) and its Gringo backers. One of the major planks of his agrarian ‘– the mildest of the mild - empowered his government to expropriate uncultivated land both of the oligarchy and the multinational food companies.

30. The battle lines were becoming clearer. One of the biggest latifundistas in Guatemala (and indeed in all of Central America) was the United Fruit Company (1898) headquartered in Boston. Its shares were owned by most members of Congress and the Senate that vastly contributed to enhance its political leverage. One of its major shareholders and political backers was John Foster Dulles (1888-1959) later secretary of state in the Eisenhower administration that came to power in January 1953 - a year of pivotal importance as we shall see in the history of Iran. Allen Dulles, who played a paramount role in the butchering of Iranian democracy, became head of the Central Intelligence Agency. After the eradication of the Arbenz regime in 1954 Allen Dulles became the chairman of the board of United Fruit. Indeed, the Dulles family had been among the largest stockholders of UFC since the twenties.

31. By the start of January 1953 the offensive against Iran was well underway. Operation Ajax as it was codenamed was engineered to ax the legitimately elected government. It would be the precursor of several such criminal acts against humanity in the years and decades that followed. By temperament and his unbendable ideological propensity to aggrandize the sphere of imperial conquests in the Middle East and grab its oil resources the choice of Kermit Roosevelt (1916-2000) a long serving professional agent proved ideal. A fact repeatedly acknowledged by his mentors, the Dulles’ brothers.

32. He was an entrenched conservative and a card carrying Republican Party member, a grandson of ex-president Theodore Roosevelt (1885-1919). Indicative of his class outlook was his burning hatred of Franklin Delano Roosevelt whom he incessantly proclaimed had betrayed his class and was driving America down the road to communism; from which he drew the inference that the CIA was the most appropriate institution “to defend American’s interests at home and abroad” He was a symbol of the moneyed exclusive East Coast establishment; a white Anglo-Saxon protestant (WA S P), educated at Groton and Harvard. His first postings to the Middle East had reinforced his earlier connections with the Wall Street bankers that endured until his death. In short, his credentials for the political and human genocide that he was now to trigger were unblemished.

33. He slipped into Iran under the alias of James Lock ridge. He had personally recruited his fellow criminal conspirators from the Iranian army and upper Shia clergy, members of MI-6 with American passports and members of B P. One of his most ruthless co-conspirators s (dubbed the Iranian Himmler by his Iranian military associates) was General Fazollah Zahedi, a former minister of the interior in Mossadeq’s cabinet. Zahedi as an animal that had fed from many troughs had long been on the payroll of B P. The rope, as a MI-6 conspirator jubilantly noted, had been slung over Mossadeq’s neck but the trap door remained to be sprung.

A special plane chartered by BP had brought the exiled Shah back from Rome. Allen Dulles was on that plane. As Zahedi later said: “the money flowed into our coffers like the Niagara Falls.” He was right in a way, but for Dulles the sum of $5 million sprinkled across the spectrum to a wholly corrupt gang of gangster politicians was peanuts as the gains, financial and geo-strategic, to imperialism would subsequently run into tens of billions.

34. Mossadeq was arrested on the 19th August 1953 organized 1953 given a summary Trial before a military tribunal. Tortured and kept in solitary confinement until 21 December, This was subsequently extended to three years of incarceration followed by house arrest until his death in 1967. What followed was the inferno. The CIA had joined forces with Israel’s Mossad that was one of the founders and manipulators of Savak. Thousands were deported, butchered and disappeared. It included men, women and children. That was a non-issue for the yellow corporate press. The repression bore striking similarities to Pinochet’s Chile. The entire nation - town and country - was blanketed by Savak who like the Nazi S S had become the highest paid and privileged thugs of the Shah’s empire. .

Ben Gurion joyfully proclaimed that from now on Israel would enjoy cheap oil. The oil may have been cheaper but it was now drench with blood would be mixed with the blood of the Iranian peasant/ worker resistance. The joys of Ben Gurion were not misplaced because as the historical record reveals Mossadeq and the Tudeh had vigorously articulated their hostility to the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland and the occupation that followed. Savak became the training ground for the mass killers and torturers. . Training camps were swiftly set up in Israel and Iran as well as in that institution of mass genocide that was the School of the Americas in Panama. Genocide Inc. in Iran had now been globalized.

The pay of the Savak killers was exceptionally high. The repression and mass killings and deportations that followed in the wake of the August putsch were on an immensely larger scale than in Chile. The biggest and most notorious death camp which at the time of the Shah’s departure housed 50,000 inmates... Near the village of Irishman in S W Iranian Baluchistan where temperatures soared to 50 degrees C in the summer months. Thousands died of malnutrition, typhus and malaria.

The Shah had become an active advocate and bankroller of the colonial war in Vietnam which explains the massive presence of the Savak in Indochina.

35. Earlier, at the University of Geneva, in Paris and elsewhere I had the privilege of meeting several members of Mossadeq’s family and his political entourage that included members of the Tudeh that had been singled out for Savak’s extermination. The butchery of Iranian democracy and the horrors trailed in its wake brought to the fore two major criminal actors in the Middle East: Iran and Israel. The Shah’s tyranny continued its march of unrelenting terror until it was crushed ignominiously in 1979.

36. An event that proved to be one of the major debacles of US imperialism in the twentieth century and whose reverberations will continue well into the 21st century. It confirmed the truth of the adage that he who sows the wind reaps the whirlwind.

The ousting of Iranian democracy boosted US imperial hegemony. It would ensure US imperial hegemony but it also marked the irreversible eclipse of British imperialism that was accentuated after the nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1967. Roosevelt and his co-conspirators had saved the wretched skin of BP. In those three decades (1953-1979) the growth of BP had become fully globalized enhanced by its newly re-discovered El Dorado.

37. Kermit Roosevelt had achieved the acme of his sordid career. He was the prototype of the war criminal spawned by the C I A. The Shah’s groveling gratitude towards these killers and that included Mossad epitomized the mood of the euphoric Shah in the aftermath of 16 August.

“ I thank God for all his mercies that he has showered on Kingdom, and to all of you who are gathered here for the help you have given us in eliminating the greatest scourge that our nation has ever known. I offer my special thanks to Mr Kermit Roosevelt who has come thousands of kilometers from a land blessed by liberty for his sustained and selfless devotion to the cause of freedom”.

38. It is wholly irrelevant whether he was capable of drafting these lines or they were written by one of the foreign hangmen of the Iranian people in their embassies. But there was more to it than this fatuous piece of verbiage. His personal colossal pickings were now bounteously displayed on the table for the world to see. His victim’s bodies were not among his newly acquired trophies. Among his honours was the Peacock’s Throne highest military and civilian decorations to which was added a lifelong annual pension of $25,000 (and a lump sum of one million dollars) which he received until the end of the regime 26 years later..

39. But of course there were other luscious pickings. British Petroleum had bestowed on him an executive position on its board of directors which he turned down. What he did not scorn was the manna of $500,000 from the British government ( the biggest shareholder) and BP. Overnight he had become metamorphosed into a big time investor in BP’s shares whose lush profits now rocketed to the stratosphere in the aftermath of the political coup. His destiny remained linked to the perpetuation of Big Oil.

40. His choice of Gulf Oil was not fortuitous. Thanks to Allen Dulles, he chose Gulf Oil as his’ ‘backyard’ as he jocularly labeled it, and was propelled into the Political and Economic Directorate of its oil empire which of course embraced Iran. Almost up to the end of his life (2,000) this killer- conspirator had never severed his connections with Iran which he visited regularly. Nor did he shed his connections with the CIA, Mossad and his British plotters...

Roosevelt was more than a mega-sized spymaster. He enshrined the unity of political power at its highest peaks and the financial exigencies of imperial aggrandisement. And hence he had become the recipient of the highest award for US spies – The National Security Medal. Present at the ceremony in the White House was President Eisenhower himself who had earlier stealthily refused to acknowledge his connections with the planned coup, the Dulles Brothers , the head of MI-6 and the head of BPs operations in the Middle East. This was the grand galaxy of imperialism.

41. Mossadeq was spared the hangman’s noose because of the conflicts within the conspiratorial cabal. At his death, his extensive personal papers and memoirs were confiscated and destroyed. And that included his precious personal diaries. As were the CIA records. What we do know was that his overthrow did not end his militancy and what I would call his unbending faith in the unfolding revolutionary process.

He followed events intensely and as several of my friends and informants noted his singular regret was that he had not followed the Tudeh’s injunction for arming the peasantry and the urban masses. In short, the direction of armed struggle. (A mistake that was to be repeated by Allende).

42. In the living room of his residence hung a large portrait of Ho Chi Minh. He had followed up to the end of his life the liberation struggles (and repressions) in the colonial world. The triumph of Cuban Freedom in January 1959 happened to be one of his greatest joys and proof of his internationalism. Now that Iran and its government is faced with physical liquidation by the combined forces of Zionism and imperialism, the struggles and hopes and aspirations of that great humanist will remain for all that strive for justice and decency forever green.



[1] He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Paris and his doctorate at the University of Neuchatel.

[2] Official Records of the Security Council, 15 October 1951.


Frederic F. Clairmont
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