For years, the Iranians were plagued with rulers who lived lives of overindulgence, ignoring the needs of the common people in favor of attending lavish parties while the country was falling farther and farther into debt. By 1857, while under the rule of Nasir al-Din Shah, Iran had completely run out of money. Subsequently, Nasir al-Din “came up with the idea of raising cash by selling Iran’s patrimony to foreign companies and governments” (Cite). The British, always eager to gain power over more territory, immediately took advantage of this opportunity and became Iran’s most significant customers. These patrimonies that were sold by Nasir al-Din Shah to assorted companies in Britain varied from mineral-prospecting rights to the Iranian tobacco industry, and most importantly control over natural gases and petroleum. By this time, the Iranian people were tired of their government selling all their patrimony to foreigners. They longed for a government in which they had a voice in the affairs of Iran that was not controlled by foreign countries, and they were willing to fight for it. Consequently, the twentieth century was one of great tumult for Iran.
Thus, when Mossadegh, a man who had “a conviction that Iranians must rule themselves” arrived in the political scene, he was greatly welcomed. Mossadegh worked tirelessly to end British control of Iran. His greatest opposition was the Anglo-Iranian oil company, a company owned by both William Knox D’Arcy, and the British government. The 1908 discovery of oil turned Iran into the world’s biggest supplier of oil, and the Anglo-Iranian oil company had control of all of it. So, while the company owners in England were benefiting greatly from the revenue from the oil, the Iranian workers were living in misery. One of Mossadegh’s first acts as the Prime Minister of Iran was to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian oil company.
This action immediately made Mossadegh Britain’s primary enemy so they formed a conspiracy to remove Mossadegh from office and set up a ruler who was sympathetic to the British interests. Britain’s biggest ally was the U.S. so unsurprisingly, they were the one’s requested by Britain to overthrow Mossadegh. While Truman was firmly against the idea, his successor, Eisenhower was more receptive.
Eisenhower believed that it was his duty to make sure that communism did not take hold in any part of the world, and Iran was a hotspot for such activity because of it’s close proximity to the Soviet Union and the unstability of the region. Other important political figures in Washington such as Frank Dulles, the director of the CIA, and his brother John Foster Dulles, a world renowned lawyer, were also supportive of a coup that would remove Mossadegh from power. At the compounded urging of the Dulles brothers, and the British government, Eisenhower was convinced that it was necessary to remove Mossadegh from power and set up a ruler who was more friendly to western interests. “Planning for the plot was already quite advanced by the time Eisenhower and Churchill formally endorsed it.” (Cite). The British had recruited the Rashidian brothers, a aristocratic trio who respected and admired the British greatly, as well as