Online Journal
Front Page 
 Special Reports
 News Media
 Elections & Voting
 Social Security
 Editors' Blog
 Reclaiming America
 The Splendid Failure of Occupation
 The Lighter Side
 The Mailbag
 Online Journal Stores
 Official Merchandise
 Join Mailing List

Analysis Last Updated: May 14th, 2008 - 01:15:24

Abusing Iran prior to and after WW II
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor

May 14, 2008, 00:22

Email this article
 Printer friendly page

In the din of anti-Iranian agit-prop, with the neocons waving their swords at Iran, oh icon of evil, I remember that oil-smudged page of history, the invasion of Iran by Great Britain and the Soviet Union, following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

Of course, the invasion of Iran from August 25 to September 17, 1941, was for one reason only, to lock up Iranian oil fields and insure supply lines to the Soviets as they battled Germany on the Eastern Front. By today�s standards, that seems like a noble effort.

Yet it�s another one of those easy to overlook violations of Iran, which was a neutral nation, even though Reza Shah Pahlavi had moved closer to Germany. Part of that resistance was that the British had already sunk their teeth in Iranian oil via the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which owned the Abadan Oil Refinery, conceivably a trophy for the oil-thirsty Germans. The refinery in fact knocked out 8 million tons of oil in 1940 and could make or break the Allied effort. Obviously, the Soviets shared the strategic lust for Iran�s oil, as well.

As it was, the German Army was cutting through the Soviet Union and the Allies were searching for a way to get sorely needed American Lend-Lease supplies to the Soviets. Both Allies leaned on the Shah and Iran, which only aggravated the situation, causing pro-German rallies in Tehran. Perhaps as further payback to the Brits, the Reza Shah would not kick out the abundance of German nationals living in Iran, while nixing use of the railway to the Allies. And so, this triggered the Allied invasion of Iran, less than five months before Pearl Harbor.

The British force rose up from the south and the Soviets descended from the north to make short order of the nine Iranian infantry divisions. Despite Reza Shah�s appeal to FDR to invoke the Atlantic Charter on behalf of his �pacific country,� Roosevelt reminded him of the obvious disaster to the world that Hitler�s brutal march for world domination presented. Roosevelt also assured the Shah that the British and Soviet governments had no designs on Iran�s independence or territorial integrity, which would turn out to be a half-truth.

The Soviets would go on later to back separatist states to the north. Still later, the US and UK would support the overthrow of the popular and democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953, with the help of Kermit Roosevelt, the FDR's nephew, and the CIA. Flashing back to 1941, Brit forces pulled out of Tehran on October 17, after the Germans had been flushed out. Yet Iran was for all purposes split between Britain and the Soviet Union for the balance of the war.

The creation of the Persian Corridor

Through this new supply lifeline, deemed the Persian Corridor, open to the Soviet Union, some 5 million tons of war goods flowed. The British in the Middle East received their share of the booty as well. Forced to abdicate and exiled to South Africa, Reza Shah Pahlavi was replaced on the throne by his son Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. The new Shah signed the tri-partite treaty of alliance with Britain and the Soviet Union in January 1942. It provided for nonmilitary assistance from Iran to the Allied war effort and stated that the Allies would leave Iran �not more than six months after the cessation of hostilities.�

In response, Iran went one step further and declared war on Germany in September 1943, qualifying for membership in the United Nations, a valuable quid pro quid for the new Shah. At the Tehran Conference in November 1943, FDR, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and bad old General Secretary Joe Stalin reaffirmed their commitment to Iran�s independence and territorial integrity and even extended economic help to Iran. After all, the young Shah had saved their derrieres with his mega gas station.

Yet at the end of the war, as Britain pulled out, the Soviet troops in northwestern Iran refused to go and backed revolts for short-lived, pro-Soviet separatist regimes in the northern provinces of Iranian Azerbaijan, the People�s Republic of Azerbaijan and the Kurdish People�s Republic in late 1945. Both were patently Soviet puppet states. Soviet troops did not get out of Iran completely until May 1946, and only after receiving a promise of oil concessions. After they were gone, the Soviet republics in the north were overthrown by Iranian fighters and the oil concessions were revoked. And Iran was left with a bitter taste its mouth for the Allies.

This was exacerbated, again, in 1953 by the overthrow of the duly elected Mohammed Mossadegh, who was thrown in jail for the rest of his life. This as the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his aristocratic band of thieves were brought back to shore up the lion�s share of its wealth. This left the lion�s share of the populous land-poor and impoverished. This led eventually to the Iranian Revolution in December 1979 and the deposing of the Shah, with the subsequent return of the Ayatollah Khomeini from exile in France.

From hostage crisis to Iran-Contra

Three decades of Iran being bandied about by Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States finally exploded in our faces in the form of the Iran hostage crisis, in which 53 U.S. diplomats were held hostage for 444 days, from November 4, 1979 to January 20. 1981, after a group of students took over the American embassy in support of Iran's revolution.

The crisis reached a climax when the US military attempted a disastrous rescue operation, Operation Eagle Claw, on April 24, 1980, resulting in an aborted mission and the deaths of eight American military men. The crisis ended with the signing of the Algiers Accords in Algeria on January 19. 1981. The hostages were formally released into United States custody the following day, just minutes after the new American president, Ronald Reagan, was sworn in.

In America, the unresolved hostage crisis was really the basis for President Jimmy Carter�s defeat in the November 1980 presidential election. The crisis� lack of resolution was brought about by presidential candidate Ronald Reagan and his vice presidential running mate, ex-CIA chief George H.W. Bush, who were conducting treasonous negotiations behind Carter�s back for release of the hostages soon after the election, offering them more money, weapons and spare parts than Carter had put on the table.

Of course, these monies and munitions we would later find out were obtained through the scandalous Iran-Contra affair. That is, the funding had been produced via an exchange of arms to the Nicaraguan (Counter-Revolutionary) Contras in exchange for drugs and cash, not quite a cricket way to win an election or resolve an international crisis.

The black operation was discovered only after an airlift of guns was downed over Nicaragua on October 5. 1986. The Iranian government confirmed an Iranian newspaper story with all the embarrassing details. Ten days after the story was first published, President Ronald Reagan appeared on national television from the Oval Office. In his speech on November 13, Reagan confirmed the transactions and stated the hard-to-swallow reasons for them.

"My purpose was . . . to send a signal that the United States was prepared to replace the animosity between [the U.S. and Iran] with a new relationship . . . At the same time we undertook this initiative, we made clear that Iran must oppose all forms of international terrorism as a condition of progress in our relationship. The most significant step which Iran could take, we indicated, would be to use its influence in Lebanon to secure the release of all hostages held there," Reagan said.

Salt was poured into the wounds of the scandal when Oliver North, who rode herd on the Contra op, destroyed or hid pertinent documents between November 21 and November 25, 1986, revealing their activities. During North's trial in 1989, his secretary, Fawn Hall, testified extensively about helping her boss to alter, shred, and remove official United States National Security Council (NSC) documents from the White House.

According to the New York Times, enough documents were put into a government shredder to choke it. North's thin explanation for destroying the documents was to protect the lives of individuals involved in Iran and Contra operations. North claimed that he gathered documents to prove that he had sufficient authority for his actions. What authority provided him the authority to usurp one nation�s revolution to support another nation�s, except the Republican imperative to win the election?

In fact, North took more than a dozen notebooks containing 2,617 pages of names, phone conversations, meetings, lists of action items, and details on operations, including highly classified information. It wasn't until years after the trial that North's notebooks were made public, and only after the National Security Archive and Public Citizen sued the Office of the Independent Council under the Freedom of Information Act.

The cherry on the cake: the Iran-Iraq War

And to top it all off, our sometimes friend Saddam Hussein, after his long run in the early 1970s heading up Iraq's nationalization of the Western-owned Iraq Petroleum Company (which held a monopoly on the country's oil), became president in 1979. By 1980, with some encouragement from the Carter administration, Hussein exploited age-old hostilities between the two nations and declared war on Iran. After some initial setbacks, Iran fought back and gained control over the war, albeit with the US, Soviets, and Europeans lending aid to both sides. The war went on for eight bloody years, yielding one million Iraqi deaths and even more Iranian deaths. They couldn�t have done it without a little help from their friends, including the Reagan bunch.

Now, given this backstory, is it any wonder that Iran is suspicious of the West and particularly the United States? As we rant about their nuclear energy projects, even if they include arms development, tiny Israel has become one of the world�s largest nuclear powers, building its arsenal since its inception in 1948. And we worked as hard as Israel to keep it a secret.

Thus Iran has wakened one more time to defend itself, rejecting nuclear inspections unless Israel allows them. Read the AP story of May 5, 2008 for details.

So once again, interference in other nations� business, subterfuge, CIA meddling and blowback, have steered us gradually into havoc. The question is when will we learn to play it straight, Sam, with Iran and everyone else? Or is that not in the political playbook?

Jerry Mazza is a free-lance writer living in New York. Reach him at

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor

Top of Page

Latest Headlines
The conservative movement has become the biggest threat to the US Constitution
There is more than meets the eye about the world food crisis
There appear to be no winners in Serbia�s recent elections
Abusing Iran prior to and after WW II
Lebanon�s sleeping giant
What to watch in Wednesday's consumer price data
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Lies are truth
US terrorism report: Selective data, wrong lessons
Gorbachev number two: Dmitry Medvedev; the West should get ready for a new transition period in Russia
Perhaps 60 percent of today�s oil price is pure speculation
Anthony Julius and a journey to the dark Zionist world
Global famine? Blame the Fed
Yinon's prophecy: Is the US waging Israel's wars?
Elusive peace: 60 years of pain and suffering
Europe�s roots in social justice: The European Idea
Memo to Bernanke: Enough with the rate cuts, already!
Financial collapse will end the Iraq occupation, but it won't come at a time of Washington's choosing
Watching and waiting: al-Sadr's strategy to defeat the occupation
American hegemony is not guaranteed
Want to save the US economy? Spread the wealth and give workers a pay raise