Tuesday, September 11, 2007

War With Iran?

War with Iran? We—meaning Anglo-American financial interests—have been at war with Iran for nigh on two hundred years.

The conflict began in 1856, when British forces attacked Persia to force them out of portions of Afghanistan. Constant skirmishes with Russia and its Mid-East neighbors had eroded Persia’s sphere of influence more or less to present day Iran, and the newly throned Qajar Dynasty was intent on re-establishing lost territory, but those intentions went unmet as Tehran fell prey to foreign influence, first from Russia and later from England.

In 1888, the Ottoman Empire inked a deal with Germany to build the Berlin-to-Baghdad Railway; the discovery of oil a few years later turned England against the scheme. England had developed an oil monopoly in Iraq, and by 1901, they had a similar arrangement in Iran. A German railway into the region would weaken England’s hold on the world’s newest strategic resource: oil. Some historians cite this as the main impetus behind World War I.

The Oil Concession of 1901 spelled the beginning of decades of British tyranny in Iran, as the Anglo Persian Oil Company (later, the Anglo Iranian Oil Company) bought politicians, bullied legitimate opposition and foisted laws upon the people. By 1951, the people had had enough. They toppled the Shah and elected a semi-socialist prime minister named Mohammed Mossadegh, who quickly nationalized Iran’s oil production. The AIOC was reduced to simply one of several competing entities allowed to bid on Iran’s oil fields.

The following year, British intelligence operatives drew up plans for a joint Anglo-American plot to overthrow Mossadegh and install a new puppet regime. President Truman killed the idea, however, and it was shelved until Eisenhower became president in 1953. By then, it had become a CIA operation codenamed TP-AJAX. Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., Teddy’s grandson, led the scheme. In 1954, AIOC reinvented itself as British Petroleum, regaining a 40 percent share of Iran’s oil production, and positioning itself as the preeminent oil producer in the region.

History repeated itself, as it so often does, in 1979, when the Shah was again overthrown. This time, however, instead of a Socialist, Iranians elected a Muslim extremist, Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, who framed his takeover in religious destiny terms. The current Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, though not a religious figure, has maintained Khomeini’s hardline stance towards the West. And recent British and American actions suggest our leadership is repeating itself too.

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