Most older people know of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 which deposed the Royal Shah of Iran and installed Ayatollah Khomeini as Iran’s leader. Much was made of the resulting 444 day long hostage crisis, which saw Iranian students illegally enter the American embassy and take hostages. Iran was painted very negatively in the western media for decades afterwards, and even until today.
But few people know any more about this than what their totally biased and corrupted mainstream media told them during their one-sided coverage of those events, then and now. In fact, several crucial events are always ommitted from western media narratives about Iran’s dealings with the west, events which play a key role in understanding how most westerners view Iran today and how Iran views the West.
The first major “people’s power” revolution in the Middle East occurred not in any “Arab spring” of the early 21st century, or even in Iran in 1979. It occurred much earlier than that, between 1896 – 1907 but it was in Iran. It was called Iran’s “Constitutional Revolution”.
Persia, Iran’s traditional name, had one of the longest continously running Monarchies in the world, headed by The Shah. There were no religious governments in Iran back then although the majority of Iranians are muslim. The Iranian people are not as strongly religious as some of their neighbours and they have a very open and educated outlook.
Iran’s population had long suffered under the increasingly incompetant and corrupt rule of their Royal Shahs and the people had been fighting for a truly democratic society. By the late 1800s they were successful when Shah Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar came to the throne in 1896. The Iranian people finally had a Shah sympathetic to their democratic goals. This Shah signed off on the new 1906 Constitutional which established an elected parliament and gave more power to the people to chose their fate.
A Constitutional Monarchy was created in Iran, like that in the UK, and a new post of elected Prime Minister was now effectively the ultimate authority of the people, replacing the Shah, who remained on the throne but only as a figurehead, in much the same way as Queen Elizabeth II is in the UK is today.
Iran flourished under these new freedoms. A free press blossomed, just and proper legal systems were established and new and independent courts were created.
There was real freedom, democracy and justice in Iran in the early 20th century – exactly the type of systems we are incessantly lectured about by the USA whenever they (often) hold themselves up as a shining example…
But even as a free, democratic and officially neutral nation during World War 2, (1939-1945) the Iranian democracy was still at risk from foreign empires. In 1941, 36 years after achieving its democracy, Iran was invaded by the unprovoked attacks of the British and Soviet governments. It was arbitrarily broken up by those foreign governments into a northern region for exclusive use by the Soviet Union and a southern region, for exclusive use by the UK. The needs and wants of the actual people who lived there, the Iranian people, were secondary to those of invading foreigners.
After World War 2 ended, and under the leadership of its democratic Prime Minister, Iran drove out its foreign occupiers and returned to its own Constitution and democratic way of life.
But by the 1950s, one issue still remained a thorn in the side of the Iranian government and its dealing with foreign powers. The country was still only receiving a tiny 6% share of the revenues from its oil wealth, the other 94% of the profits heading off to the UK, whose oil industry giants had developed Iran oil fields.
Similar countries in similar circumstances such as Saudi Arabia were receiving more than a 20% share of their oil revenues at this same time.
So by 1951, not unreasonably, Iran’s democratic government requested talks with Britain to discuss Iran receiving a greater share of the wealth generated from its own resources.
The UK refused to even discuss the matter, let alone negotiate, even as their major allies such as the USA urged them to do so. Mexico had nationalized its oil industry in 1938 and not paid any compensation. Venezeula was to nationalize some of its oil industry in 2007 and did pay an internationally recognized compensation sum. New Zealand nationalized the Bank of New Zealand in 1945 and the USA nationalized most of its Steel industry in 1952 as well as its railways in 1971.
So the concept of nationalization of your own assests is hardly unusual or uncommon around the world, in any era, or in any industry. One would have to ask, therefore, why Britain refused to even enter into talks concerning their extraction of Iran’s oil. Greed maybe? Arrogance?
Faced with implacible and ongoing British resistance to even discussing the issue, Iran’s Prime Minster, the hugely popular Mohummed Mossadegh, felt he had no other choice than to nationalize (take control of) his countries oil resources, which he did. He offered the UK the standard compensation package as was customary in such circumstances.
The Iranian people were elated. They had a strong, popular and competant leader who looked after the interests of common people. The future for Iran looked rosy !
But the elation didn’t last for long.
The UK refused to accept Iran’s decision and its legal right to nationalise its own resources. Instead, Britain asked the America’s CIA to return Iran to how it existed before the Consititutional Revolution of 1896, 57 years earlier. To return Iran to the days of being ruled by the authoritarian Shah and to throw out the 1906 Democratic Constitution.
Iran’s brief experience of democracy was finished.
And so it was. The CIA easily toppled Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohummed Mossadegh, and destroyed the hard won Democratic Constitution of 1906. The Majles, or Iranian Parliament was neutered and The Shah of Iran was once again, in 1953, dictator for life over the Iranian people thanks to the secret deeds of Washington and London.
All nations and their embassies around the world must follow diplomatic laws that respect the right of a nation to have its representatives work in a foreign country without undue danger or hazard to their safety. Embassy security therefore is the responsibilty of the host nation, but the embassy grounds themselves belong to the visiting nation.
The visiting nation can deny the host nation entry to the embassy, even though it is located on host nation soil. This is a huge advantage to the visiting nation. Embassy staff all have immunity from prosecution in the host nation for any crimes they might commit. Any law breaking by the visiting nation’s embassy staff will go unpunished by the host nation. These are huge potential advantages to any unscrupulous nation wishing to secretly carry out illegal activities from inside another nation.
The American embassy in Iran is owned and operated by Washington and no Iranian, not even law enforcement officers or government officials, can enter without US permission.
For this reason, aside from the diplomatic laws involved, much of the operation of the embassies around the world is run on mutual trust. If law breaking is going on inside an embassy, it will be difficult to detect as no one from the host nation can enter without permission from that embassy.
So, a nation’s embassy must not be used in a way which is incompatible with the functions of the mission or of diplomacy. An embassy in another country is for the sole purpose of conducting diplomacy – that is, the carrying out of communication and administrative functions only.
The mainstream media have stressed for decades the fact that the Iranian students forcefully entered the American embassy in Tehran in 1979 when the hostage crisis began. This act by the students was against diplomatic law.
What the media never elaborate on however are the reasons why these young Iranian students entered the American embassy without permission and took hostages. That part of the story is mostly unknown and will be covered more in a future post.
For now it is enough to understand that the greatest spreader of “freedom” in the world (their words, not mine) – the United States of America – was the nation that secretly destroyed Iran’s 1906 Constitution and the democracy that went with it.
In any dictionary around the world, under the entry “hypocrisy”, no words are necessary to explain the meaning.
A picture of the American Flag is sufficient.