The CIA-engineered coup of 1953 has been the single most debilitating trauma of Iran in the 20th century. It is incorrect to blame the US or the UK for every calamity that has befallen Iran ever since, as it is foolhardy to discount the calamitous consequences of that singularly perfidious act of the US-UK treachery.


Both President Obama and the former Secretary of State Madeline Albright have had occasions to apologise to Iranians publically for the US role in toppling Mosaddegh. But what do these apologies exactly mean in the context of continued US-EU imperial designs for Iran and the region, in the time of incessant crippling economic sanctions on Iranians, constant military threat by both the US and the US client colonial settlement of Israel?

To this day, the coup remains a gushing wound – a trauma that has benighted much of modern Iranian political culture and been widely abused by the Islamic Republic to justify its absolutist reign of terror.

The only person more neurotically fixated on the word “the enemy” than George W Bush is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – by which they both mean an amorphous entity incessantly plotting against them. If for George W Bush “the enemy” became the mantra of his “war on terror”, for Ali Khamenei it amounts to an obsessive-compulsive disorder – a kind of Tourette Syndrome – abusing the memory of the coup of 1953 to sustain his totalitarian regime in power.

American imperialism, picking up where the European imperialism left off, is a historical fact projected onto phantasmagorical proportions by the ruling regime for its own benefits. Among other things, the singular achievement of the most recent democratic uprising of Iranians known as the Green Movement put an effective end to that trauma and began to navigate a course of thinking beyond their postcolonial predicament.  

But against all these abuses, to this day the fragile democratic experience of Mohammad Mosaddegh remains a beacon of hope for Iranians at large. In the midst of a deeply divided a nation, scarce a political figure has been able to galvanise a widest possible spectrum of solidarity as Mohammad Mosaddegh, in part because almost 60 years after that treacherous act Iranians still face the same problem – that he tried to confront: domestic tyranny exacerbating globalised imperialism.

By the passage of history, the visage and legacy of Mohammad Mosaddegh has only gained in stature and significance. No wonder that monarchist revisionists altogether deny the coup and accuse Mosaddegh of populism, while the Islamic republic, beginning with Ayatollah Khomeini himself has consistently downplayed or distorted the legacy of Mosaddegh in the nationalisation of Iranian oil, and exaggerated the role of the clergy, while new evidence are now surfacing implicating the clergy itself in the coup.

What safeguards Mosaddegh from historical abuse and malicious distortion, whether by the ruling Islamists in Iran or by the exiled monarchists desperate to pose themselves as a legitimate alternative to the ruling regime, is the shining legacy of anti-colonial nationalism that links Mosaddegh to his contemporary heroes of the same cause – Nehru of India and Naser of Egypt in particular, the very engines behind the NAM. The Islamists and the monarchists might wish to distort the image of Mosaddegh, but what will they do to his memory in the hearts and minds of masses of millions of Indians and Arabs – in Cairo I have seen streets named after Mosaddegh.