In 1951, Iran nationalized its oil industry. Previously, a British company (presently named BP) had been in control of Iran’s oil reserves. Moves were being made at the same time by Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh with the goal of transitioning to a democracy. Boycotts ensued, embargoes were placed on the country, and the British Army was being prepared for a potential full-scale war.
After government leadership changes in both Britain and the United States, a coup was organized by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). On August 19th of 1953, the forces behind the coup announced their success and a transition to a less nationalist and more western-friendly Iranian government. This past August, the CIA admitted to influencing the coup at all levels. It is highly likely that the MI6 had at least the same level of influence over these events.
Just over twenty five years later, another coup would take place, this time against the western-backed Shah. In his place would be a man known now as Ayatollah Khomeini. Over the next ten years, Ayatollah Khomeini would tighten his rule over the Iranian government – much to the considerable disdain of the United States. Notably, he would go on issue a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, an event paramount in discussions of Islamic extremism since.
In the period between 1979 and 2013, relations between the United States and Iran have remained considerably strained. Neither have exchanged ambassadors, both preferring instead to use other nations as proxies, all the while waging continual propaganda wars against the other. Between a trade embargo, George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech, and a series of United Nations sanctions on the country, relations had showed no potential of thawing.
Then Iran declared openly its intention to negotiate with America (among others) on one of the top issues facing the world today, the Iranian nuclear program. NBC News is reporting:
Two days of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers were “substantive and forward-looking,” and a second series is set for next month, both sides said in a statement Wednesday.
A representative of the European Union did not go into details about what progress was achieved, but said Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, presented “an outline of the plan” that would be a starting point for future talks.
The White House followed up with its assessment that an Iranian proposal on the table suggests an unprecedented “level of seriousness and substance.”
“We found the Iranian presentation very useful,” press secretary Jay Carney said.
The article goes on to note that a phone call between President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani is the first direct contact that Iran and America have had in the thirty four years since the revolution responsible for ousting the Shah.
While it’s an obvious conclusion that the talks could go any way at this point, the warming of relations should presumably be seen as a positive sign. Conservatives have spent the last ten years drumming up support for a war with Iran in the name of defending the Israelis, when all that had to be done in order to accomplish a semblance of normalcy was as small of a gesture as a single phone call.
Whatever the end to these talks, however loud the pundits yell over one another, forward motion is being made on talks surrounding the Iranian nuclear program. Although it’s too soon to say how events will unfold, at least our latest move against a declared enemy hasn’t been another coup sure to breed further resentment.