|Birth Day:||June 16, 1882|
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During the rising resentment of British control of the government, he took power to nationalize the oil industry, taking them away from foreign hands.
Mosaddegh was born to a prominent Persian family of high officials in Tehran on 16 June 1882; his father, Mirza Hideyatu'llah Ashtiani, was the finance minister under the Qajar dynasty, and his mother, Princess Malek Taj Najm-es-Saltaneh, was the granddaughter of the reformist Qajar prince Abbas Mirza, and a great-granddaughter of Fath-Ali Shah Qajar. When Mosaddegh's father died in 1892, his uncle was appointed the tax collector of the Khorasan province and was bestowed with the title of Mosaddegh-os-Saltaneh by Nasser al-Din Shah. Mosaddegh himself later bore the same title, by which he was still known to some long after titles were abolished.
In 1901, Mosaddegh married Zahra Khanum (1879–1965), a granddaughter of Nasser al-Din Shah through her mother. The couple had five children, two sons (Ahmad and Ghulam Hussein) and three daughters (Mansura, Zia Ashraf, and Khadija).
In 1909, Mosaddegh pursued education abroad in Paris, France where he studied law at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). He studied there for 2 years, returning to Iran because of illness in 1911. After 5 months, Mosaddegh returned to Europe to study a Doctorate of Laws (doctorate en Droit) at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. In June 1913, Mosaddegh received his doctorate and in doing so became the first Iranian to receive a PhD in Law from a European university.
During this period he also served as deputy leader of the Society of Humanity, under Mostowfi ol-Mamalek. In protest at the Anglo-Persian Treaty of 1919, he relocated to Switzerland, from where he returned the following year after being invited by the new Iranian prime minister, Hassan Pirnia (Moshir-ed-Dowleh), to become his minister of justice. While en route to Tehran, he was asked by the people of Shiraz to become the governor of the Fars Province. He was later appointed finance minister, in the government of Ahmad Qavam (Qavam os-Saltaneh) in 1921, and then foreign minister in the government of Moshir-ed-Dowleh in June 1923. He then became governor of the Azerbaijan Province. In 1923, he was re-elected to the Majlis.
In 1925, the supporters of Reza Khan in the Majlis proposed legislation to dissolve the Qajar dynasty and appoint Reza Khan the new Shah. Mossadegh voted against such a move, arguing that such an act was a subversion of the 1906 Iranian constitution. He gave a speech in the Majlis, praising Reza Khan's achievements as prime minister while encouraging him to respect the constitution and stay as the prime minister. On 12 December 1925, the Majlis deposed the young Shah Ahmad Shah Qajar, and declared Reza Shah the new monarch of the Imperial State of Persia, and the first Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty. Mosaddegh then retired from politics, due to disagreements with the new regime.
In 1941, Reza Shah Pahlavi was forced by the British to abdicate in favor of his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. In 1944, Mosaddegh was once again elected to parliament. This time he took the lead of Jebhe Melli (National Front of Iran, created in 1949), an organization he had founded with nineteen others such as Hossein Fatemi, Ahmad Zirakzadeh, Ali Shayegan and Karim Sanjabi, aiming to establish democracy and end the foreign presence in Iranian politics, especially by nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company's (AIOC) operations in Iran. In 1947 Mossadegh once again announced retirement, after an electoral-reform bill he had proposed failed to pass through Majlis.
The British government also threatened legal action against purchasers of oil produced in the formerly British refineries seized by Iran and obtained an agreement with its sister international oil companies not to fill in where the AIOC was boycotting Iran. The entire Iranian oil industry came to a virtual standstill, oil production dropping from 241,400,000 barrels (38,380,000 m) in 1950 to 10,600,000 barrels (1,690,000 m) in 1952. This Abadan Crisis reduced Iran's oil income to almost nothing, putting a severe strain on the implementation of Mosaddegh's promised domestic reforms. At the same time, BP and Aramco doubled their production in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, to make up for lost production in Iran so that no hardship was felt in Britain.
On 28 April 1951, the Shah appointed Mosaddegh as Prime Minister after the Majlis (Parliament of Iran) nominated Mosaddegh by a vote of 79–12. The Shah was aware of Mosaddegh's rising popularity and political power, after a period of assassinations by Fada'iyan-e Islam and political unrest by the National Front. Demonstrations erupted in Tehran after Mosaddegh's appointment, with crowds further invigorated by the speeches of members from the National Front. There was a special focus on the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the heavy involvement of foreign actors and influences in Iranian affairs. Although Iran was not officially a colony or a protectorate, it was still heavily controlled by foreign powers beginning with concessions provided by the Qajar Shahs, and leading up to the oil agreement signed by Reza Shah in 1933.
Still enormously popular in late 1951, Mosaddegh called elections. His base of support was in urban areas and not in the provinces. This fact was reflected in the rejection of Mosaddegh's bill for electoral reform (which no longer disqualified illiterates from electoral participation) by the conservative bloc, on the grounds that it would "unjustly discriminate patriots who had been voting for the last forty years".
The new administration introduced a wide range of social reforms: unemployment compensation was introduced, factory owners were ordered to pay benefits to sick and injured workers, and peasants were freed from forced labor in their landlords' estates. In 1952, Mossadegh passed the Land Reform Act which forced landlords to turn over 20% of their revenues to their tenants. These revenues could be placed in a fund to pay for development projects such as public baths, rural housing, and pest control.
According to Ervand Abrahamian: "Realizing that the opposition would take the vast majority of the provincial seats, Mosaddegh stopped the voting as soon as 79 deputies – just enough to form a parliamentary quorum—had been elected." An alternative account is offered by Stephen Kinzer. Beginning in the early 1950s under the guidance of C.M. Woodhouse, chief of the British intelligence station in Tehran, Britain's covert operations network had funneled roughly £10,000 per month to the Rashidian brothers (two of Iran's most influential royalists) in the hope of buying off, according to CIA estimates, "the armed forces, the Majlis (Iranian parliament), religious leaders, the press, street gangs, politicians and other influential figures". Thus, in his statement asserting electoral manipulation by "foreign agents", Mosaddegh suspended the elections. His National Front party had made up 30 of the 79 deputies elected. Yet none of those present vetoed the statement, and the elections were postponed indefinitely. The 17th Majlis convened in February 1952.
Throughout Mossadegh's career, he strove to increase the power the people held versus the power of the crown. In 1952, he was granted emergency powers by the Majlis which he used to diminish the amount of power the Shah held at the time. He used these powers to place the control of the armed forces under the government, to decrease the size of the armed forces, and introduce land reforms with a more socialist approach.
On 16 July 1952, during the royal approval of his new cabinet, Mosaddegh insisted on the constitutional prerogative of the Prime Minister to name a Minister of War and the Chief of Staff, something the Shah had done up to that point. The Shah refused, seeing it as a means for Mosaddegh to consolidate his power over the government at the expense of the monarchy. In response, Mosaddegh announced his resignation appealing directly to the public for support, pronouncing that "in the present situation, the struggle started by the Iranian people cannot be brought to a victorious conclusion".
The British government had grown increasingly distressed over Mosaddegh's policies and were especially bitter over the loss of their control of the Iranian oil industry. Repeated attempts to reach a settlement had failed, and, in October 1952, Mosaddegh declared Britain an enemy and cut all diplomatic relations. Since 1935 the Anglo-Persian Oil Company had the exclusive rights to Iranian oil. In 1914, the British government had purchased 51% of its shares and became the majority shareholder. After Britain's Royal Navy converted its ships to use oil as fuel, the corporation was considered vital to British national security and the company's profits partially alleviated Britain's budget deficit. Unsurprisingly, many Iranians resented the company's privileges and demanded a fair share of its takings.
The American position shifted in late 1952 when Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected U.S. president. In November and December, British intelligence officials suggested to American intelligence that the prime minister should be ousted. British prime minister Winston Churchill suggested to the incoming Eisenhower administration that Mossadegh, despite his open disgust with communism, was, or would become, dependent on the pro-Soviet Tudeh Party, resulting in Iran "increasingly turning towards communism" and towards the Soviet sphere at a time of high Cold War fears. After the Eisenhower administration had entered office in early 1953, the United States and the United Kingdom agreed to work together toward Mosaddegh's removal and began to publicly denounce Mosaddegh's policies for Iran as harmful to the country. In the meantime, the already precarious alliance between Mosaddegh and Kashani was severed in January 1953, when Kashani opposed Mosaddegh's demand that his increased powers be extended for a period of one year. Finally, to eliminate Mossadegh's threat to disrupt the cheap oil supply to the West and the withdrawal of profitable oil reserves from the hands of Western companies, the US made an attempt to depose him.
In January 1953, Mosaddegh successfully pressed Parliament to extend his emergency powers for another 12 months. With these powers, he decreed a land reform law that established village councils and increased the peasants' share of production. This weakened the landed aristocracy, abolishing Iran's centuries-old feudal agriculture sector, replacing it with a system of collective farming and government land ownership, which centralized power in his government. Mosaddegh saw these reforms as a means of checking the power of the Tudeh Party, which had been agitating for general land reform among the peasants.
In March 1953, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles directed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which was headed by his younger brother Allen Dulles, to draft plans to overthrow Mossadegh. On 4 April 1953, Allen Dulles approved $1 million to be used "in any way that would bring about the fall of Mosaddegh". Soon the CIA's Tehran station started to launch a propaganda campaign against Mossadegh. Finally, according to The New York Times, in early June, American and British intelligence officials met again, this time in Beirut, and put the finishing touches on the strategy. Soon afterward, according to his later published accounts, the chief of the CIA's Near East and Africa division, Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. the grandson of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, arrived in Tehran to direct it. In 2000, The New York Times made partial publication of a leaked CIA document titled Clandestine Service History – Overthrow of Premier Mosaddegh of Iran – November 1952 – August 1953.
In August 1953, the Shah finally agreed to Mossadegh's overthrow, after Roosevelt said that the United States would proceed with or without him, and formally dismissed the prime minister in a written decree, an act that had been made part of the constitution during the Constitution Assembly of 1949, convened under martial law, at which time the power of the monarchy was increased in various ways by the Shah himself. As a precautionary measure, he flew to Baghdad and from there hid safely in Rome. He actually signed two decrees, one dismissing Mosaddegh and the other nominating the CIA's choice, General Fazlollah Zahedi, as Prime Minister. These decrees, called Farmāns, were specifically written as dictated by Donald Wilber, the CIA architect of the plan, and were designed as a major part of Wilber's strategy to give legitimacy to the coup, as can be read in the declassified plan itself, which bears his name.
Soon, massive popular protests, aided by Roosevelt's team, took place across the city and elsewhere with tribesmen at the ready to assist the coup. Anti- and pro-monarchy protesters, both paid by Roosevelt, violently clashed in the streets, looting and burning mosques and newspapers, leaving almost 300 dead. The pro-monarchy leadership, chosen, hidden and finally unleashed at the right moment by the CIA team, led by retired army General and former Minister of Interior in Mosaddegh's cabinet, Fazlollah Zahedi joined with underground figures such as the Rashidian brothers and local strongman Shaban Jafari, to gain the upper hand on 19 August 1953 (28 Mordad). The military joined on cue: pro-Shah tank regiments stormed the capital and bombarded the prime minister's official residence, on Roosevelt's cue, according to his book. Mosaddegh managed to flee from the mob that set in to ransack his house, and, the following day, surrendered to General Zahedi, who was meanwhile set up by the CIA with makeshift headquarters at the Officers' Club. Mosaddegh was arrested at the Officers' Club and transferred to a military jail shortly after. On 22 August, the Shah returned from Rome.
On 21 December 1953, Mossadegh was sentenced to three years' solitary confinement in a military prison, well short of the death sentence requested by prosecutors. After hearing the sentence, Mossadegh was reported to have said with a calm voice of sarcasm: "The verdict of this court has increased my historical glories. I am extremely grateful you convicted me. Truly tonight the Iranian nation understood the meaning of constitutionalism."
As soon as the coup succeeded, many of Mosaddegh's former associates and supporters were tried, imprisoned, and tortured. Some were sentenced to death and executed. The minister of foreign affairs and the closest associate of Mosaddegh, Hossein Fatemi, was executed by order of the Shah's military court. The order was carried out by firing squad on 10 November 1954.
Mossadegh was kept under house arrest at his Ahmadabad residence, until his death on 5 March 1967. He was denied a funeral and was buried in his living room, despite his request to be buried in the public graveyard, beside the victims of the political violence on 30 Tir 1331 (21 July 1952).
Zahedi's new government soon reached an agreement with foreign oil companies to form a consortium and "restore the flow of Iranian oil to world markets in substantial quantities", giving the United States and Great Britain the lion's share of the restored British holdings. In return, the US massively funded the Shah's resulting government, until the Shah's overthrow in 1979.
In March 2000, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated her regret that Mosaddegh was ousted: "The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons. But the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development and it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America." In the same year, The New York Times published a detailed report about the coup based on declassified CIA documents.
Declassified documents released by the CIA in 2017 revealed that – after the Shah had fled to Italy – CIA headquarters believed the coup to have failed. They sent a cable calling off operations to Roosevelt on 18 August 1953, but Roosevelt ignored it.
Currently, Mohammad Mosaddegh is 139 years, 1 months and 13 days old. Mohammad Mosaddegh will celebrate 140th birthday on a Thursday 16th of June 2022.
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