Today's Article
An earlier draft may
have revealed a bit
too much about the
feelings of ordinary
Iranians regarding the
U.S.-backed coup.
The American Spark
CIA Summary On 1953 Iran Coup May Contain Unintended
Confession


By Cliff Montgomery - Aug. 31st, 2019

Edward Gibbon, the historian who wrote
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, believed that one had to go to
the earliest possible sources to determine the truths of history. That may not always be correct. But when those
sources are some of the very people who performed a particular act of history - and they wrote their memoir

just after the act was performed - you are left with something like a confession.

Their memoir is sure to be somewhat self-serving; but if one is careful with all their talk, one can always detect

the confession behind it all.

The CIA-supported overthrow of Iran’s democratically-elected prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq (or
Mossadeq), occurred in August 1953. Below, the
American Spark quotes a short, four-page draft summary that
appears to have been written by CIA officials between 1953-54, shortly after the coup
.

Entitled,
Campaign to Install [a] Pro-Western Government in Iran, the short draft has been heavily redacted for
release. It’s probable that this summary was written in conjunction with the CIA’s Clandestine Service History,
which was penned in 1954 by Donald Wilber, one of the coup’s top planners.

The summary certainly employs a cluster of phrases Wilber used when discussing the Iran coup - “war of

nerves” and “quasi-legal,” for example.

One other matter: an earlier draft of the text may have revealed a bit too much about the feelings of ordinary
Iranians regarding the U.S.-backed coup.

At one point, the summary declares that the beginning of the coup witnessed a “literal revolt of the population” -

but the remainder of the text is redacted, which may withhold something about the nature of that revolt.  

The next line originally declared:

“The military were forced to act in quelling the riots and gained strength on the momentum of the situation in
support of the Shah.”

To some readers, this might imply that the memo’s basic claims - that the Iranian people’s ‘sympathies were

with the Shah’ and against Mossadeq - were gross overstatement. It was crossed out by hand, and above it
was written as a substitute statement:

"The military and security forces joined the populace. Radio Tehran was taken over and Mossadeq was forced

to flee on 17 Aug 53."

Regardless, it’s clear the author of the summary feels the coup owed its eventual success to both internal and
external actors.

This little summary apparently was considered so sensitive that the U.S. government only approved its release

to the general public on June 21st, 2011 - nearly 58 years after it was written.

The summary was released thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).



CAMPAIGN TO  INSTALL [A] PRO-WESTERN GOVERNMENT IN IRAN


AUTHORITY: Approved by [section redacted] on ... July 1953.


TARGET Prime Minister Mossadeq and his government


OBJECTIVES Through legal, or quasi-legal, methods to effect the fall of the Mossadeq government; and

To replace it with a pro-Western government under the Shah’s leadership, with Zahedi as its Prime Minister.


CIA ACTION Plan of action was implemented in four phases:

1. [First line redacted]
to strengthen the Shah’s will to exercise his constitutional power and to sign those decrees necessary to effect
the legal removal of Mossadeq as Prime Minister;

2. Welded together and coordinated the efforts of those political factions in Iran who were antagonistic toward
Mossadeq, including the powerfully influential clergy, to gain their support and backing of any legal action taken
by the Shah to accomplish Mossadeq’s removal;

3. [Most of first line redacted] disenchant the Iranian population with the myth of Mossadeq’s patriotism, by
exposing his collaboration with the Communists and his manipulation of constitutional authority to serve his own
personal ambitions for power;

[Large block of text redacted]

Simultaneously, conducted a “war of nerves” against Mossadeq designed to reveal to Mossadeq and to the
general populace that increased economic aid would not be forthcoming and that the U.S. viewed with alarm
Mossadeq’s policies:

a. A series of public statements by high U.S. officials implying that there was little hope that Mossadeq could
expect increased U.S. aid;

b. U..S. press and magazine articles which were critical of him and his methods; and

c. [Redacted] absence of the American Ambassador, lending credence to the impression that the U.S. had lost
confidence in Mossadeq and his government.

[Large block of text redacted]


RESULTS

The original D-Day set by CIA misfired when Mossadeq, learning of the plan through a leak [redacted] took
immediate counteraction to neutralize the plan.

[Line redacted]
was launched in the interim period between the original and final D-Days to educate the Iranian population to
the fact that, in view of the dissolution of the Majlis (effected by Mossadeq at an earlier stage to prevent its
voting him out of power) and the Shah’s decree removing Mossadeq as Prime Minister, Mossadeq’s continued
exercise of the powers of that office was illegal and that authority to govern the people rested solely and
completely in the hands of the Shah.

The Nationalists and the Communists during this period inadvertently assisted our cause through their
premature attempts to promote a republican government. This theme was contrary to the public’s opinion,
whose sympathies were with the Shah. The Shah’s dramatic flight out of the country served to further intensify
his people’s sense of loyalty to him.

These actions resulted in [a] literal revolt of the population, [rest of statement redacted].

[Here there is a telling handwritten change to the text. The next line originally read:

“The military were forced to act in quelling the riots and gained strength on the momentum of the situation in
support of the Shah.”

At least one U.S. official apparently understood the problem with this single line: It might be read to imply that
the memo’s previous claims - that the Iranian people’s ‘sympathies were with the Shah’ and against Mossadeq -
were pure invention. It was crossed out by hand, and above it was written as a substitute statement:

“The military and security forces joined the populace. Radio Tehran was taken over and Mossadeq was forced

to flee on 17 Aug 53.”]

The ouster of Mossadeq was successfully accomplished on 19 Aug 1953.


NOTE

[Large block of text redacted]

2. That an adequate amount of U.S. interim economic aid would be forthcoming to the successor government.

[Entire fourth page of summary redacted]



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