At midnight on August 15th, 1953, a young Iranian colonel led a convoy of Imperial Guards through the streets of Tehran. Their destination was the home of the country's prime minister, Mohammad Mossadeq.
The colonel carried a royal decree. This document claimed that the prime minister had abused his powers and committed treason against the Iranian people. The shah or king of Iran demanded Mossadeq and relinquish his authority and be arrested. However, the Prime Minister's power was so great that the Shah trusted only his loyal Imperial Guards to carry out this mission. It was a coup.
The colonel and his men reached Mosaddeq home and march toward his door before the colonel could face the prime minister and present him with a decrees. Dozens of soldiers loyal to the democratically elected government appeared from the shadows and surrounded the Shah's men.
The ambushers became the ambush as the prime minister's soldiers proceeded to arrest them. Upon hearing the news, the Shah fled Iran, Mossadeq triumphantly proclaimed victory. The coup was thwarted before it even began. But within a week, mobs of Iranians filled the streets in support of the Shah. Dozens of tanks converged on Mosaic's home. Now, it was the prime minister who was arrested, all while thousands of cheering Iranian citizens greeted the Shah as he returned home to his country.
The monarch insisted that the love of the Iranian people had forced out Mossadeq and returned him to power.
But some believe that the Shah's success wasn't because of Iran's citizens at all.
The monarch should have been thanking the CIA. Welcome to Conspiracy Theories, a Spotify original from past every Monday and Wednesday, we dig into the complicated stories behind the world's most controversial events and search for the truth. I'm Carter Roy. And I'm Molly Brandenberg.
And neither of us are conspiracy theorists, but we are open minded, skeptical and curious. Don't get us wrong. Sometimes the official version is the truth, but sometimes it's not.
You can find episodes of conspiracy theories and all other Spotify originals from Park asked for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcast. This is our first episode on Operation Ajax. Allegedly, this covert action by American and British secret agents overthrew Iran's democratically elected prime minister in 1953. Then they installed an autocratic dictator with Western sympathies.
This sophisticated coup involved bribing Iranian officials, paying protesters and even organising false flag attacks. Some believe that Operation Ajax became the model for CIA operations all over the world for decades afterwards.
This week, we'll explore the contentious oil crisis that destabilized Iran and contributed to the 1953 coup d'état. This conflict devastated the country's economy and turned many members of the public against the government. In the wake of its chaos, Iran's shah seized power.
Next week, we'll examine the CIA's role in the coup. One young officer named Kermit Roosevelt spent months fostering unrest in the country. He used millions of dollars in payments and bribes to tear down the government. And allegedly he berated the powerful shah of Iran himself into doing America's bidding.
We have all that and more coming up. Stay with us. This episode is brought to you by CBS Health if someone you love is at risk of a fall, the symphony medical alert system by CVS Health can help support their safety at home with 24/7 emergency response monitoring.
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Quarter on drizzly dotcom. Never compromise. Drink responsibly. Wild Turkey, Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey fifty point five percent alcohol volume one and one proof copyright twenty twenty one. Campari America. New York. New York. Today, Iran is a theocracy ruled by a supreme religious leader, but in the 1940s and early 1950s, democracy was on the rise. Though it had a constitutional monarch called the Shah, his role was diminishing in the political sphere. The country was ruled by an elected parliament and prime minister.
But all that changed in the 1953 coup they tore. The prime minister was arrested for treason and held for trial. Consequently, the Shah ruled with an iron fist for decades. Many questioned why the CIA and MI6 would replace Iran's elected government with an autocratic dictator. But the reason was simple. They wanted its oil.
Iran is located between modern day Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, though it was once the largest empire in the world, centuries of invasion and corruption ushered in its decline. Iran entered the 20th century relatively poor and dominated by the European colonial powers.
This power imbalance was perfectly illustrated by the country's oil industry. In 1988, a British surveyor discovered massive deposits of this black gold in the western regions of Iran. Soon, investors from Britain formed an entity known as the Anglo Persian Oil Company. They negotiated a deal with the Iranian monarchy and the cajas and received exclusive rights to extract Iran's oil within five years.
This corporation drilled dozens of oil wells and laid hundreds of miles of pipelines. It built the largest oil refinery in the world on the small island of Abbadon in the Persian Gulf. Soon, millions of gallons of crude were being pumped from beneath Iranian earth and loaded onto British ships in 1914. The British government saw the stirrings of a world war on the horizon. They desperately needed a steady supply of oil to fuel their navy and bought a 51 percent share in the Anglo Persian oil company for two million pounds.
That would be over two hundred and thirty two million pounds.
Today, the British government's intuition was shrewd. When World War One broke out, Britain consumed millions of barrels of Iranian oil. Anglo Persian oil company profits skyrocketed.
However, despite the corporation's name, very little of this money went to Iran. The agreement between the Anglo Persian oil company and the Iranian government only gave them 16 percent of the company's profits. The corporation also refused to grant Iranian officials access to financial records. It was likely they were receiving even less than the 16 percent they were entitled to.
In 1921, the cajas were overthrown by a soldier named Reza Khan, who soon established a new monarchy known as the Pahlavi dynasty. He became known as Reza Shah. Like the regime he deposed, Reza Shah ruled as an autocratic dictator. However, he also implemented many reforms he believed would improve the lives of Iranian citizens. He modernized the country and outlawed Islamic traditions he considered repressive.
Ultimately, his goal was for Iran to emulate the liberal European colonial powers, especially Britain. It was imperative to renegotiate his country's contract with the Anglo Persian oil company.
Britain was reluctant to change their agreement. Iran provided hundreds of millions of barrels of oil each year. Some estimates stated that 90 percent of Europe's oil at the time came from the refinery at Abbadon. And under the current contract, the majority of that money went to the British government after years of resistance.
By 1932, Reza Shah lost his patience. He unilaterally cancelled the agreement that the cajas signed decades before the British company now no longer had the legal right to extract Iran's oil panicked. The corporation quickly sent negotiators to Iran and agreed to new terms with Reza Shah.
Anglo Persian oil would now pay Iran a minimum of nine hundred and seventy five thousand pounds a year, about 69 million pounds today.
This new agreement proved Iran was capable of going head to head with the strongest colonial power in the world. Reza also demanded that they change the company's name to Anglo Iranian oil company. His reasoning was that Persian is what the British call them. Iranian is what his people called themselves. It was a small but powerful statement of autonomy.
While this was a victory for Re's assure, the people of Iran didn't benefit much from this negotiation, the lion's share of the money went directly to the Shah, who used it to fund the military and buy land for himself.
The Shah's role only grew more complicated when World War Two broke out, though Iran declared its neutrality as an autocratic dictator, the Shah admired Germany's Nazi regime. He allowed Germans to move freely through Iran.
This alarmed the allied powers greatly. In 1941, the British invaded Iran from the West, while the Soviet Union invaded from the Northeast. Together, they forced Reza Shah to abdicate his throne.
British officials decided to place the Shah's 22 year old son, Mohammad Reza, on the throne. They hope that the young monarch would be docile and easy to control. They were right, inexperienced and timid.
The new Shah wanted little to do with ruling the country. Instead, the job fell to parliament and the prime minister.
Unlike when these institutions were tightly controlled under Reza Shah, now they had the opportunity to truly govern. For the first time in the country's modern history, Iran was ruled by a democratically elected body.
Reassessing oil rights was the first priority. For decades, they had watched as their most valuable resource was pumped out from under their feet. International corporations and monarchs had fought over the profits, leaving little for the common people.
Iran believed it was ready to claim what they were owed, and to do so, they'd have to go up against one of the most powerful countries in the world, Britain.
Little did they know that this conflict would cost them everything.
Coming up, Iran's prime minister challenges Britain on the world stage. Hi, listeners, it's Venessa from podcast. When you think of a criminal, do you picture a killer, a gangster, a thief? I bet you didn't think it could be the little old lady down the street who murdered her tenants. Every Wednesday on my series, female criminals meet the unlikeliest of felons, mothers, neighbors and unsuspecting lovers with a penchant for dangerous behavior. Discover the psychology and motives behind their disturbing crimes and find out where their story stands today.
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Now back to the story. After British surveyors discovered oil in Iran in 1998, they spent the next four decades negotiating with the country's monarchy for the right to exploit this natural resource. But the new Shah that came to power in the early 1940s didn't wield the same power that his father had. The country began its transition to a democratic government. However, the nation's greatest battle control of the oil industry was just beginning. The man who would lead that fight was Mohammed Mossadeq.
Mossadeq was a respected statesman who had served in government for decades. He frequently butted heads with the autocratic Reza Shah, now under the reign of the new Shah. He saw an opportunity to shape the future of his country.
The 67 year old politician was a fervent patriot and nationalist. He believed that Iran needed to strengthen its democracy and limit the power of foreign nations to that end. He established a National Front party in 1949.
This political coalition had widespread support from trade unions, civic groups, Islamic clerics and middle class Iranian workers.
The National Front Party soon won several seats in the Iranian parliament, cementing its reputation in the months leading up to the formation of Mosaddeq National Front Party, Parliament attempted to renegotiate the terms of their oil contract with the British. Once again, the working conditions of Iranian labourers at the Aberdeen refinery were atrocious, and the Iranian government felt that a payment of nine hundred seventy five thousand pounds annually from the profits of one of the world's largest oil fields wasn't sufficient.
Copying the strategy of the previous Shah parliament threatened to cancel this contract and demanded Britain pay more for the right to extract Iranian oil.
The company managers obliged and offered a new deal. This one guaranteed a minimum of four million pounds a year in profits. They also promised to train Iranians for more specialised, higher paying positions.
Debate raged for months in the Iranian parliament. Many politicians, especially those in favour of Mozz ADEX nationalist ideals, weren't satisfied with the proposed terms. They wanted more of a voice in the Anglo Iranian oil company, as well as the right to audit their financial records.
The political turmoil turned to violence on March 7th, 1951, when the prime minister was assassinated by a member of an Islamic fundamentalist group. Parliament convened to elect his replacement. To the surprise of everyone, Mossadeq announced he would run for the position. But on one condition the oil industry would be nationalized. This was an unprecedented suggestion.
To do so meant that the Iranian government would own every oil well pipeline and refinery in the country. It would give them immense power and cut the British out of the equation entirely.
Naturally, the bold plan was extremely popular amongst Iranians. But when the British got wind of the plan, they rushed to stop it. British officials met with the Shah and demanded he put an end to the nationalization effort.
The Shah agreed to their request. He remembered how opposing British interests ended for his father, but eventually been forced to abdicate. So the Shah attempted to persuade members of parliament to lobby against nationalization. But when the vote came, the plan passed by an overwhelming majority. Thanks to Mossadeq and his National Front party, Iran's oil would finally belong to Iran.
Citizens of Tehran poured out into the streets, dancing and celebrating. Mossadeq was named prime minister over the course of a few tumultuous years. He'd become a hero in Iran, but in Britain he was painted as a villain.
Since the British government owned 51 percent of the Anglo Iranian oil company, the entity also provided the lion's share of the fuel for its Navy losing control. The corporation wasn't just a political or economic disaster. It was a national security threat. They wouldn't let it slip away.
The British Foreign Office sent a message to the Shah and asked him to dissolve the parliament. Perhaps the Shah could overrule the decision to nationalize the oil industry, but the Shah refused. Even he knew that standing against nationalization was more dangerous than standing against the British. It could end in political suicide or worse, assassination.
So the oil corporations leaders tried a different tactic. The wages of all the Iranian workers at the Aberdeen refinery were garnished. Thousands of employees walked away from their posts in protest. Oil production dropped, but there was still overwhelming support for nationalization from the country's citizens.
In a brazen display of power. In reply to the strike, Britain sent five warships to the Persian Gulf. They weighed anchor a few miles from Aberdeen. Hopefully the tactic would convince Iranians to go back to work.
But instead of intimidating the refineries workers, this naval action infuriated them even more. They were no longer going to be pushed around by the British. The time had come for them to rebel against this outdated colonial mindset. Over the next few days, oil workers marched through the streets. Tensions between Iranian and British employees were high. Several brawls broke out, resulting in multiple deaths. Despite Britain's best efforts, they were unable to stop the swell of nationalism in Iran.
On May 1st, 1951, the Shah signed Mozz IDEX nationalization proposal into law. The Anglo Iranian oil company was banned from extracting the resource from Iran. It was immediately replaced by the national Iranian oil company.
Reactions from other countries were mixed. Britain was furious.
But the US State Department released a statement that America, quote, fully recognises the sovereign rights of Iran and quote, The British quickly sent an official delegation to Iran in a last ditch effort to negotiate directly with Mossadeq.
But even when offered additional royalties, the prime minister was resolute. This was about principle.
The oil belonged to Iran as Iran fully took over the refinery. Britain ordered all of its technicians and managers to leave the country. They hope that the inexperienced Iranians would be unable to operate the oil industry without British help. Mossadeq sent out a call to specialists all over the world. They would be welcome in Iran and paid handsomely.
Privately, the British worked to ensure a no foreigners would be enticed by this offer. But publicly, the nation still hope to salvage the situation. Soon, though, it became clear that Mosaddeq wouldn't talk to anyone representing Britain. So the Foreign Office asked the United States to send an envoy to mediate.
At this time, Iran was on friendlier terms with the United States. They saw the U.S. as a country that broke free of British control and gained independence. Perhaps they would listen to what an American would have to say.
President Truman dispatched an envoy to talk to Mossadeq and convince him that operating the oil industry without British help would be impossible.
But American negotiators soon realized that their task was nearly insurmountable for the prime minister. The oil crisis was moral. It seemed he would reject foreign influence in Iran even if it bankrupted the country. Even the legitimate danger of economic collapse wasn't enough to bring them back to the bargaining table with Britain.
On top of this, the British hadn't anticipated one new development. The Iranians were learning how to run the Abadan facility on their own.
British leadership was very concerned about Iran's possible success. If the nation was allowed to fight against British interests, other developing countries like China or India might do the same. The situation had to be contained by any means necessary.
Military leaders drew up several invasion plans. These varied from seizing the island of Abadan to occupying most of western Iran. They were sure that a surprise attack could overwhelm the country's defenses.
The idea of a full invasion, though, was not very popular. Declaring war could cause Iran to oust the Soviet Union for help, ushering in a new dangerous battlefield in the Cold War. Instead, they turn to economic warfare. British diplomats worked overtime to ensure no one would buy Iranian oil.
They convinced many countries that Iran had violated their contract, its oil was technically stolen goods, oil tankers that approached Iran were impounded by the British Navy. And when two American companies placed orders for several million gallons of crude oil, Britain asked the U.S. State Department to intervene. The orders were canceled.
Despite Iran's new control of the oil supply, Britain still controlled its customers. Is the economic noose tightened? Britain took Mossadeq to court. They filed a resolution with the United Nations Security Council. If passed, it could return power over the oil industry to Britain.
Mosaddeq flew to New York to dispute the charges himself. In an impassioned speech, he described how the Anglo Iranian company had taken advantage of his country's people. Iranian workers lived in terrible conditions, earning far less than their British counterparts. Finally, he showed how Iran only saw a fraction of the profits the company raked in.
The speech had a profound impact on the Security Council. His emphatic condemnation of colonialism convinced many of the representatives in attendance that the situation wasn't as clear cut as the British hoped it would appear. And the council decided to postpone any definitive ruling, effectively leaving the oil in Iranian hands.
This was yet another massive political victory for Mossadeq. It made him a hero throughout much of the developing world, especially in countries like Egypt. Time magazine named him Man of the Year in 1951. The British were humiliated and angrier than ever.
However, Mosaddeq couldn't deny that his victories also exacerbated problems at home. Britain's economic sanctions were harming the quality of life for many Iranians, and the stream of oil money Mossadeq promised hadn't materialized.
The prime minister found himself losing the support of the common people as Mossadeq became less popular with the working class. He did gain support from members of another group, Iranian Communists, called the two day. This organization was directly run by the Soviet Union from Moscow. They supported Mossadeq because his policies were causing a financial crisis within Iran. The communists hope that they could exploit this unrest and start a revolution.
The two day became the muscle at Mosaddeq rallies and events. They cheered for his speeches and fought his enemies. As the Cold War raged, Mosaddeq support from the communists alarmed many potential Western allies, especially the United States, if Mosaddeq crusade paved the way for a communist Iran. All of Iran's oil could fall into Soviet hands.
Violence continued to escalate. In February of 1953, an angry mob surrounded Mosaddeq home after rioters attempted to break into the house and threaten the prime minister with a knife. Mosaddeq fled. He was deeply shaken.
He retaliated by having several of his political enemies arrested. This mass imprisonment shocked the nation.
Mosaddeq reputation had changed. The man who'd fought for democracy in the late 1940s, the face of a free Iran was incarcerating political opponents. By 1953, Iranians knew this type of government and its repressive tactics far too well.
As the months passed, Mossadeq lost support of many politicians in parliament, including many from the National Front, the party he created, and prominent Muslim clerics. These religious leaders had immense influence on the devout Iranian population.
In response, Mosaddeq issued a referendum to the voters to dissolve parliament entirely. This would allow him to rule the country using emergency powers. Most importantly, this measure would also give him control of Iran's military. Traditionally, the armed forces had always been controlled by the Shah. Much of the military leadership was loyal to him, not Mossadeq.
The Prime Minister believed that this action would consolidate his power during a turbulent time. Instead, it appeared to be a desperate grab for power.
Mosaddeq measure was put to the Iranian people. It passed with 99 percent approval. The prime minister now controlled almost the entirety of the Iranian government.
However, after results were announced, alarm spread through the country. There were many allegations that the vote was rigged. It began to look like. The once beloved prime minister was fast becoming a dictator. Furthermore, the attempted transfer of power from the Shah to Mosaddeq infuriated the populace for 2500 years. Iran had been ruled by monarchs. It was a sacred institution and undermining it was tantamount to treason. In fact, word spread that this referendum was treason.
Unfortunately, Mosaddeq controlled the country. He had jailed his political opponents and the two day communists attacked any anti Mosaddeq protest. There seem to be few options left to the Iranian people.
There was only one man in Iran who still had the authority to stand against Mossadeq, the Shah himself.
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Now back to the story in 1953, Iran was wracked with political and economic turmoil, taking control of the oil industry from the British came at a great cost. The country was in financial freefall and violence was breaking out in the streets of Tehran.
In response, Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq consolidated power by dissolving parliament and attempting to strip Iran's shah of his military authority while this allowed him to keep control of the government. It infuriated many Iranians.
They saw Mossadeq turning into a dictator. He needed to be stopped.
Mosaddeq opponents rallied around the Shah. Those who supported the dynastic leader argued that under the Iranian constitution, he had the power to dismiss Mossadeq and install a new prime minister. With a stroke of a pen, he could end the crisis.
Newspapers printed dozens of articles that called on the Shah to exercise his authority and get rid of the despotic Mossadeq. pro-Russian demonstrators filled the streets and clashed with two day brawlers, but the young tsar was reluctant to get involved.
Mossadeq could just ignore his orders, and then the monarch might find himself in prison or even in front of a firing squad. But eventually his advisers and his Western allies convinced him that, unlike the prime minister, he could end the oil crisis and bring stability back to Iran.
The conspirators formed a plan in absolute secrecy. The Shah drafted to Furman's or royal decrees. The first ordered Mossadeq to stand down. The second installed a new prime minister who was loyal to the Shah.
Just before midnight on August 15th, a detachment of soldiers devoted to the Shah, known as the Imperial Guard, embarked on their secret mission. They were to present these orders to Mossadeq and then immediately arrest him.
However, just as he was about to be presented with the Shah's Furman's, Mossadeq signaled to several soldiers hiding in the shadows to surround the Shah's men and arrest them.
Someone had betrayed the Shah and alerted Mossadeq to the impending coup. The Prime Minister knew the Imperial Guard was coming for him and laid his own trap while the informant's identity was never discovered. It's likely that the information came from a two day spy.
This development made it clear that Mosaddeq government had the full support of the Communists and in reply, Western powers like America denounced the Prime Minister's actions. They feared the two days would convince Mossadeq to ally with the Soviet Union. Iran would become a communist state, but they were powerless to act as Mossadeq prepared to retaliate against the upstart Shah.
At around 7:00 a.m. the next morning, Mosaddeq announced on the national radio station that there had been an attempted military coup. He claimed it was backed by the Shah and his treacherous British allies when the Shah heard of his coups failure.
He immediately fled the country with his family. He wasn't sure if he'd ever be able to return to Iran.
As news of the attempted coup spread furious promos, adat crowds filled the streets. Led by two day communists, they marched to Parliament Square, Tehran's city centre. The crowd wrapped chains around a statue of Reza Shah, once a symbol of the Pahlavi family's influence in Iran. It was pulled to the ground.
The monarchy's reign had ended, or so it seemed, soon.
This rioting and destruction spread throughout the city, perhaps because the violence was being committed by his supporters. Mosaddeq didn't allow the police to interfere.
Tehran was thrown into absolute chaos as the violence spread. So the details about the coup. Iranians soon learned that Mosaddeq had disregarded direct orders from the Shah. This angered many, especially military leaders. The Shah was seen as a symbol of Iran, far older and more sacred than any prime minister. Sentiment shifted. If Mosaddeq didn't have the support of the Shah, his rule was illegitimate.
Procol supporters poured into the streets to counter the two day led mobs. The violence escalated soon. Foreign nationals were caught in the crossfire. The U.S. ambassador went to Mosaddeq and told him that American citizens were being harassed by the mobs. The prime minister hit his breaking point. Something had to be done. Before Iran descended into complete anarchy, Mosaddeq told the police to crack down on the rioters. He issued a decree that banned all public protests and demonstrations. And finally, he told his allies, including the two days to stay home, this final request would be a fatal mistake.
While the pro Mosaddeq crowds retreated, the Shah supporters did not. On August 19th, 1953, they stormed through the streets of Tehran unopposed. They seized radio stations and broadcast messages that denounced Mossadeq.
The two day realized that Mosaddeq government was on the verge of being overthrown. Some called Moscow for guidance. However, the Soviet Union was undergoing its own crisis. Stalin had just died and his supporters were busy jockeying for power. No one had time to think about Iran.
A few to day leaders went to Mossadeq directly. They asked for weapons to combat the pro shah forces. The prime minister refused. He'd never arm a political party under any circumstances.
In the streets of Tehran, the military mutinied against their officers and joined the chaos. The majority of them supported the Shah. Hundreds of soldiers surrounded Mossadeq home inside the few elements of the military, still loyal to the prime minister, prepared for a siege, they barricaded the doors and set up firing positions.
A pitched gun battle erupted in the streets, raging on for over an hour. Then the attackers cheered as tanks rumbled through Tehran and surrounded the prime minister's residence. Though Mosaddeq supporters were heavily outgunned, they continued to fight.
Meanwhile, Shah loyalists smuggled a general named Zahedi to Tehran's main radio station. He was the man that the Shah named prime minister in his royal decree. Even as Mosaddeq house remained under siege, Zahedi declared victory on the airwaves. He called for the Shah to return home.
Shortly after Zaid's broadcast, the attackers broke through and stormed the prime minister's residence. They found that Mosaddeq had fled. At the last moment, the victorious soldiers looted the residence and set it ablaze.
The new prime minister quickly brought order to the city. The destruction was mind boggling. The conflict left over 300 people dead. Nearly one hundred and fifty of the casualties alone were from the assault on Mosaddeq home.
In the meantime, the shah landed in Rome. He expected to apply for asylum, certain he could never return to Iran. Instead, he was informed that the people had risen up and overthrown Mossadeq on his behalf. They invited their exiled king to return to his throne.
As the Shah celebrated his unexpected victory, Mossadeq ran for his life. He knew he couldn't evade capture forever. If he was discovered by a mob, he would surely be killed. He called General Zahidi and arranged to surrender peacefully. The Mosaddeq government was officially over.
On August 22nd, 1953, the Shah made a triumphant return to Tehran, greeted by cheering crowds in a radio interview, he promised to repair the country and hold Mossadeq accountable for the damage he caused. The Shah ordered that the former prime minister be charged with treason.
Mosaddeq vehemently denied these charges and a fiery defense. The elder statesman proclaimed his only crime was nationalizing the oil industry and freeing Iran from British tyranny.
Unfortunately, the verdict was a foregone conclusion. Mossadeq was found guilty. However, given his age and past service to Iran, his sentence was relatively lenient. He wants to be imprisoned for three years, then remain under house arrest for life.
Others weren't so lucky. 60 of Mosaddeq most vocal supporters were shot, and broadly, the National Front Party and the Communist two day party were banned from Iran. Their members were marginalised and imprisoned as the Shah tightened his grip on the country while parliament was reinstated.
The Shah was careful to ensure that all future prime ministers were loyal to him above all else. He also installed a new secret police force called SAVAK, which bared it out political opposition to his reign.
However, like his father, he worked to modernize Iran and build closer ties with Western allies, especially the. United States, he negotiated Iran's oil contract with foreign investors, this time the stakeholders consisted of an international consortium, including several American companies. Under the new agreement, Iran would receive 50 percent of oil industry profits, though Iranian auditors would still be kept from examining any accounting records to the rest of the world.
It seemed like Mossadeq paid the price for being a nationalistic hardliner. He refused to negotiate with Britain, which brought on devastating economic instability for the Iranian people. As the prime minister's power became questionable, his constituents rebelled. They chose the Shah to lead them.
But that might not be the truth. Many historians and government officials have evidence that events in Iran in the summer of 1953 were manipulated by shadowy figures. They claim that the coup wasn't the will of the Iranian people at all. It was at the hands of the CIA.
Next week, we'll take a closer look at what really transpired in Iran in the summer of 1953, what appeared to be a spontaneous revolution may have actually been engineered by Western intelligence agencies in efforts to reclaim the oil industry that Mossadeq nationalized, which sets up conspiracy theory.
Number one, Britain held secret talks with American officials and convinced them that Mosaddeq needed to be removed. Unless the CIA intervened, Iran might fall to communism.
Conspiracy theory number two is that President Eisenhower approved a secret CIA plan called Operation Ajax to destabilize Mossadeq government, which leads directly into conspiracy.
Number three, Operation Ajax changed the course of Iranian history on an unprecedented political scale. If not for the program, Iran would be a liberal democracy.
Today, we'll dig into the evidence and see what truth lies behind each of these theories.
Thanks for tuning into conspiracy theories. We'll be back next time with Part two of Operation Ajax. Of the many sources we used, we found All the Shah's Men by Stephen Kinzer to be the most helpful in our research. You can find all episodes of conspiracy theories and all other Spotify originals from Park Cast for free on Spotify.
Until then, remember, the truth isn't always the best story, and the official story isn't always the truth.
Conspiracy Theories is a Spotify original from past. Executive producers include Max and Ron Cutler, Sound Design by Dick Schroder with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Freddie Beckley. This episode of Conspiracy Theories was written by Evan McGahey with writing assistants by Nicholas Ward and McKenzie. More fact checking by Bennett Logan and research by Bradley Klein. Conspiracy theory stars Molly Brandenberg and Carter Roy.