By JAMES RISEN
Central Intelligence Agency's secret history of its covert operation
to overthrow Iran's government in 1953 offers an inside look at how
the agency stumbled into success, despite a series of mishaps that
derailed its original plans.
Written in 1954 by one of the coup's chief planners, the history
details how United States and British officials plotted the military
coup that returned the shah of Iran to power and toppled Iran's
elected prime minister, an ardent nationalist.
The document shows that:
Britain, fearful of Iran's plans to nationalize its oil
industry, came up with the idea for the coup in 1952 and pressed the
United States to mount a joint operation to remove the prime
The C.I.A. and S.I.S., the British intelligence service,
handpicked Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi to succeed Prime Minister Mohammed
Mossadegh and covertly funneled $5 million to General Zahedi's
regime two days after the coup prevailed.
Iranians working for the C.I.A. and posing as Communists
harassed religious leaders and staged the bombing of one cleric's
home in a campaign to turn the country's Islamic religious community
against Mossadegh's government.
The shah's cowardice nearly killed the C.I.A. operation. Fearful
of risking his throne, the Shah repeatedly refused to sign
C.I.A.-written royal decrees to change the government. The agency
arranged for the shah's twin sister, Princess Ashraf Pahlevi, and
Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the father of the Desert Storm
commander, to act as intermediaries to try to keep him from wilting
under pressure. He still fled the country just before the coup