Saturday 26th of September 2020

or the liberator of the oppressed...



Imperialist Iran becomes anti-imperialist

by Thierry Meyssan

The history of Iran in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries corresponds neither to the image that Westerners have of it, nor to the image that the official discourse of Iranians gives of it. Historically linked to China and for the past two centuries fascinated by the United States, Iran is struggling between the memory of its imperial past and the liberating dream of Rouhollah Khomeiny. Considering that Shiism is not only a religion, but also a political and military weapon, it hesitates between proclaiming itself the protector of the Shiites or the liberator of the oppressed. We publish a two-part study by Thierry Meyssan on modern Iran.

The Persians built vast empires by uniting neighbouring peoples rather than conquering their territories. Traders rather than warriors, they imposed their language for a millennium throughout Asia, along the Chinese Silk Roads. Farsi, which only they alone speak today, had a status comparable to English today. In the 16th century, their sovereign decided to convert his people to Shi’ism in order to unify them by giving them a distinct identity within the Muslim world. This religious particularism served as a basis for the Safavid Empire.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the country had to contend with the ferocious appetites of the British, Ottoman and Russian empires. In the end, after a terrible famine deliberately provoked by the British, which caused 6 million deaths, Tehran lost its empire while London imposed an operetta dynasty, that of the Pahlevi, in 1925, in order to exploit the oil fields for its sole benefit. In 1951, Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh nationalized the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Furious, the United Kingdom and the United States succeeded in overthrowing him while maintaining the Pahlavi dynasty. To counter the nationalists, they transformed the regime into an appalling dictatorship by freeing a former Nazi general, Fazlollah Zahedi, from their jails and imposing him as Prime Minister. The latter created a political police force, the SAVAK, whose cadre were former Gestapo officers (Stay-behind network).

Be that as it may, this episode awakened the Third World’s awareness of the economic exploitation of which it is a victim. Unlike the French colonialism of settlement, British colonialism is only a form of organized plunder. Before this crisis, British oil companies paid no more than 10% of their profits to the populations they exploited. If the British shouted robbery during nationalization, the United States sided with Mossadegh and proposed a 50-50 split. Under the impetus of Iran, this rebalancing would continue in the world throughout the 20th century.

Gradually two main opposition movements emerged within the bourgeoisie: first the communists supported by the Soviet Union, then the Third Worldists around the philosopher Ali Shariati. But it is a cleric, Rouhollah Khomeiny, who alone managed to awaken the little people. According to him, it is a good thing to mourn the martyrdom of the Prophet Hussein, but it is a much better thing to follow his example and fight against injustice; a teaching that earned him the reputation of being considered a heretic by the rest of the Shiite clergy. After 14 years of exile in Iraq, he moved to France where he impressed many left-wing intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Michel Foucault.

Westerners made Shah Reza Pahlevi the "gendarme of the Middle East". He saw to it that nationalist movements were crushed. He dreamed of reviving the past splendour of his country, whose 2500th anniversary he celebrated with Hollywood splendour in a tent village in Persepolis. During the oil crisis of 1973, he realized the power he had at his disposal. He then considered restoring a real empire and sought the help of the Saudis. The latter immediately informed the United States who decided to eliminate their ally Pahlevi who had become too greedy and to replace him by the old ayatollah Khomeiny (77 years old at the time) whom they surrounded with their agents. But first of all, MI6 made it clear: the communists were put in prison, while the imam of the poor, the Lebanese Moussa Sadr, disappeared during a visit to Libya and Ali Shariati was assassinated in London. The Westerners invited the sick Shah to leave his country for a few weeks to be treated.

On February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini returned triumphantly from exile. No sooner had he arrived on the tarmac at Tehran airport than he flew by helicopter to the city’s cemetery, where 600 people had just been buried who had been massacred during a demonstration against the Shah. To everyone’s amazement, he made a speech, not against the monarchy, but violently anti-imperialist. He called on the army to no longer serve the West, but the Iranian people. The regime change organized by the colonial powers instantly turned into a revolution.

Khomeini imposed a political regime foreign to Islam, the Velayat-e faqih, inspired by Plato’s Republic of which he was a great reader: the government would be placed under the guidance of a wise man, himself in this case. He then dismissed one by one all the pro-Western politicians. Washington reacted by organizing several attempted military coups, followed by a campaign of terrorism by ex-communists, the People’s Mujahideen. In the end, it paid - via Kuwait - President Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as a counter-revolutionary force. The result was a terrible ten-year war in which the West cynically supported both sides. In order to arm itself, Iran did not hesitate to buy US weapons from Israel (this is the "Iran-Contra affair"). Khomeini transformed society. He developed among his people a cult of martyrdom and an extraordinary sense of sacrifice. When Iraq bombarded Iranian civilians with indiscriminate missiles, he forbade the army to retaliate in the same way, claiming that weapons of mass destruction are contrary to his vision of Islam; which prolonged the fighting a little longer.

After a million deaths, Saddam Hussein and Rouhollah Khomeiny realized that they were the toys of the West. They therefore conclude a peace. The war ended as it began, for no reason. The wise old man died shortly afterwards, not without having appointed his successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The next sixteen years were devoted to reconstruction. The country was bled dry and the revolution was now nothing more than a slogan without content. People continued to shout "Death to America!" in Friday sermons, but the "Great Satan" and the "Zionist regime" had become privileged partners. Presidents Hachemi Rafsanjani, then Mohammad Khatami, organized the economy around oil revenues. Society was slackening and income gaps were widening again.

Rafsanjani, who made his fortune from arms trafficking in the "Iran-Contra affair", convinced Khamenei to send Revolutionary Guards to fight in Bosnia and Herzegovina alongside the Saudis and under the orders of NATO. Khatami, for his part, established personal relations with the speculator George Soros.

(To be continued…)

Thierry Meyssan


Roger Lagassé


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Toon at top, 2014, by Bruce Petty, the best cartoonist in the world...

change of job specs...

The US is putting Iran on regime-change notice, appointing Iran-Contra convict Elliott Abrams as Special Representative for Iran in addition to his duties as Special Representative for Venezuela, a State Department release shows.

Abrams, who oversaw a series of failed coups in Venezuela both in the past year and during the botched 2002 coup against then-President Hugo Chavez, will take over from Brian Hook, who has “decided to step down,” according to a press release from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo lauded Hook’s efforts in the statement, declaring he had “achieved historic results countering the Iranian regime.” The outgoing official oversaw the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, leveling sanction upon sanction against the Islamic Republic after withdrawing the US from the JCPOA nuclear deal in 2018. Hook praised his own record to the New York Times on Thursday, declaring that “by almost every metric, the regime and its terrorist proxies are weaker than three and a half years ago.”

“We have been very successful,” he said.

Tensions between the two countries nearly spiraled into war in January after a US airstrike killed Quds Force leader Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, provoking a barrage of missiles from Iran targeting two coalition bases in Iraq. The US has also flooded the Persian Gulf with military assets and placed bounties on Iranian ships and other military assets.


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Part 2 of top article coming soon...



old accomplices since the iran-contra affair: an hypothesis...


Iran from anti-imperialist to imperialist again

by Thierry Meyssan

Continuing his study of contemporary Iran, Thierry Meyssan shows how Tehran has once again abandoned the anti-imperialist ideal of the 1979 revolution to return to its imperialist policy. This article, like the previous one, presents many unknown elements. It continues with an astonishing hypothesis.

The youth that had shed its blood for the country was coming of age. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then 51, a former officer in the Revolutionary Guard Special Forces, was elected president. Like Khomeini, he had a conflictual relationship with the clergy, especially since the clergy had only protected only its own children during the war. He intended to resume the fight against injustice and modernize the country. An engineer by training and a professor of technology, he endowed Iran with an efficient industry. He undertook a vast construction programme throughout the country to put an end to the shantytowns. At the international level, he allied himself with the Venezuelan Hugo Chávez and the Syrian Bashar el-Assad to challenge Western imperialism. These three countries suddenly became the centre of the international diplomatic game with the discreet support of the Holy See.

Despite the painful memory of the war imposed on Iran by Iraq, Ahmadinejad helped the Iraqi Resistance to the US aggression, without distinguishing between Sunnis and Shiites, and then the Syrian Resistance against the jihadists. But he came into conflict with his own Iranian allies firstly because of his commitment to the Iraqi Sunnis and Syrian secularists, then because he attached more importance to ancient Iran than to the Islamic era, and finally when he tried to allow the shaving of beards and to make the Islamic veil optional. He then directly threatened the power of the clergy and the Guide of the Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. At the time of his re-election, Khatami and a son of Rafsanjani organized with the CIA an uprising of the bourgeoisie of Tehran and Esfahan. But the little people came to his rescue and the "green revolution" failed.

His enemies abroad accuse him of being an anti-Semitic dictator, wanting to wipe the Israelis off the map; his Iranian allies insult him and made a mockery of his mysticism. In reality, he denounced the almighty power of the Guide and even "went on strike" against the presidency.

In March 2013, Ali Khamenei sent a delegation to Oman to hold secret talks with the United States. President Barack Obama intended to pursue the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy of destroying state structures in the "Greater Middle East", but he did not wish to drive his troops into this quagmire as his predecessor George Bush had done in Iraq. He was therefore in favour of a division of the Muslim community into Sunnis and Shiites. His diplomats therefore declared to the Guide’s envoys that they were ready to let him organise a "Shiite crescent" and to compete with the Sunni Saudis. The Guide’s representative, Ali Akbar Velayati, sees this as an opportunity to re-establish the Safavid empire. Unbeknownst to certain other members of the delegation, he made a commitment to eliminate Ahmadinejad’s men and to favour Sheikh Hassan Rohani who was the first contact with Israel and the United States during the Iran-Contra affair.

Indeed, the Council of Guardians of the Constitution declared Ahmadinejad’s candidate, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a "bad Muslim" and forbade him to run for the presidential election. The Guide favoured several candidates who shared the votes of the revolutionaries, while the pro-Westerners presented only Rohani. Rohani was therefore elected. He took as Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif who had spent most of his life in the United States.

The new team publicly negotiated, with the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany, an end to the nuclear controversy. The Shah had begun a military atomic research programme that Iran had first pursued during the war imposed by Iraq and finally abandoned when Imam Khomeini opposed weapons of mass destruction. However, Ahmadinejad had taken over elements of this programme, this time for civilian purposes. Israel had then intoxicated the international press by claiming that Iran was looking for a way to continue the Shoah, not hesitating to falsify the translation of Ahmadinejad’s speeches. The major powers knew that this was not true, so a façade agreement was quickly reached in Geneva, but it was not signed. For a year, Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry secretly negotiated the division of the Greater Middle East. It was only after a secret protocol was signed in 2015 that the other negotiators were invited to formalise the previously agreed accord in Lausanne and then to sign it in Vienna. Disputes between Tehran and Washington were unblocked. The sanctions were gradually lifted, prisoners on both sides were released and a first instalment of 1.3 billion dollars in cash was discreetly flown into Iran.

However, while the families of the Rohani team were leading a lavish lifestyle, they were not doing much for the people, who were increasingly suffering from the economic situation. It is true that Western economic sanctions were hindering the country’s development, but that does not explain the situation: as an expert in international trade, Iran hadd created a vast system of intermediaries around Dubai to mask the origin and destination of its products. It is impossible for the US to control the land borders that Iran has with eight countries and its maritime borders.

In 2017, the Council of Guardians of the Constitution declared Ahmadinejad’s new presidential candidate, Hamid Baghaie, a "bad Muslim" and banned him from running. Sheikh Rohani was elected for a second term, but former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad revealed the malfeasance of the government and the Guide. Demonstrations against both the president and the Guide multiplied. The authorities placed Ahmadinejad under house arrest for a while and arrested his entire entourage one by one. Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, who had represented him in the 2013 elections, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for "plotting against the Islamic Republic". Hamid Baghaie, who represented him in the 2017 elections, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after a secret trial of which nothing is known, not even the grounds for prosecution.

The government then published a document proposing the creation of a Shiite federation including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Azerbaijan, under the authority of the Revolutionary Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It is nothing more and nothing less than the re-establishment of the Safavid empire. In Syria, the Revolutionary Guards ceased to defend the country and devoted themselves solely to protecting the Shiites.

In a few years, anti-imperialist Iran has transformed itself into a new imperialist power. Its own allies have become paralysed, not knowing how to escape from the trap into which they have fallen.

Iran’s actions do not correspond at all to its rhetoric, which masks its strategy. Westerners are wrongly persuaded that this country is violently anti-American. This is absolutely false: the governments of the Shah, Rafsanjani, Khatami and Rohani were entirely turned towards Washington. The embassy hostage affair (1979-81) is an invention: they were not hostages, but diplomats arrested in flagrante delicto for spying. Moreover, the United States never sought redress under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Personnel. As for the anti-imperialist camp, it is by definition against imperialism and not against the United States. Ahmadinejad wrote to Donald Trump to encourage him to carry out the clean-up of his administration that he had promised to carry out during his election campaign.

Identically, Iran is not against the Jews. True, there is genuine anti-Semitism among a fraction of the population, but it was Emperor Cyrus who freed the Jews from their captivity in Babylon, and since then Iran has always protected them. While they insult each other in public and hack into their computer systems, Israel and Iran have never waged war on each other. Today, they even jointly operate the Ashkelon-Haifa pipeline, in the heart of the Jewish state; a reality that it is forbidden to mention in the Israeli press under penalty of 15 years in prison.

Disoriented by Hillary Clinton’s failure in the US presidential election and Donald Trump’s victory, Iran hopes that he will be removed from office soon. Sheikh Rohani therefore refuses to speak to him. Opposing the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy, Donald Trump urged the Sunni camp to stop its support for terrorist groups during his speech in Riyadh and withdrew his country from the Vienna agreement with the Shiite camp. While the Saudis are adjusting to the new White House tenant, Rohani’s team persists in ignoring him. The only agreement that can be reached between Iran and both the White House and the Pentagon is to put an end to the Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah, and all forms of contestation of Western domination, and then to divide the Muslim community in two to prevent the resurgence of the revolution.

Finally, Donald Trump asserted his authority in the region by assassinating, a few weeks apart, the main Sunni military leader, Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the main Shiite military leader, General Qassem Soleimani.

Sheikh Rohani then resolved to negotiate with Donald Trump. In March 2020, he coordinated the Houthis’ action with that of the Emiratis against the Saudis in Yemen; in May, he accepted that one of Soleimani’s assassins, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, would become Prime Minister in Iraq and, in June, he sent Revolutionary Guards to fight alongside NATO in Libya as his mentor Rafsanjani had once done in Bosnia-Herzegovina. At the same time, he accepted China’s offer to buy its oil at 70% of the market price, which will once again guarantee him oil revenues, but questions his alliance with India. India plans to channel Indian trade to Afghanistan through the Iranian port of Chabahar, bypassing Pakistan. However, historical logic would have it that Tehran should be integrated into the Chinese Silk Road project, which was also its own in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and thus form an alliance with Pakistan.

The history of contemporary Iran can be summed up as an inexorable swing between two political visions: either the greatness of an empire based on the legacy of the Prophet Mohammed, or the struggle for justice based on the example of his life and those of the Prophets Ali and Hussein. The first faction is referred to by the Western press as the "moderates" (sic), the second as the "conservatives" (re-sic).


The rest of this article is obviously to be taken with caution since it is only a hypothesis. But it deserves some thought.

It must be noted that the death of General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Revolutionary Guard Special Forces, was a blessing for Hassan Rohani. Not only did it not produce a proportionate response, but one of his assassins became Prime Minister of Iraq with the support of Sheikh Rohani. By appointing an illustrious unknown to succeed him, the Iranian authorities themselves neutralized the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Logic would therefore suggest that the next personality to be eliminated from the landscape would be the Secretary General of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Hassan Nasrallah.

However, this is not what we have just witnessed in Beirut: a Hezbollah unloading warehouse was hit by a new weapon and exploded. More than 150 people were killed and 5,000 injured. Only Israeli voices, such as MP Moshe Feiglin, and Iranian ones assured the next day that all misfortune is good. For the official press in Tehran, the destruction of the port of Beirut will increase the activity of the Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus-Beirut land route, thus the project of a Shiite federation.

On August 6, French President Emmanuel Macron visited the site. According to his interlocutors, he gave the Lebanese leaders three weeks to implement the second part of Resolution 1551, i.e. to disarm the Resistance. On August 7, Hassan Nasrallah intervened on al-Manar, troubled, uncomfortable, even depressed. He denied four times that he was involved in any way in the port of Beirut.

But the machine is running. The first part of resolution 1551 provided for the ousting of the Syrian peace force that ended the Lebanese civil war. It was followed in 2005 by the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the "Cedar Revolution". The second part, the disarmament of Hezbollah, will be achieved in 2020 with the destruction of half of Beirut and a new colour revolution. All this is the business of the old accomplices since the Iran-Contra affair, Benjamin Netanyahu and Hassan Rohani.

Thierry Meyssan


Roger Lagassé



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overthrow of Iran's democratic government, 1953...

CIA documents offers key details on how the U.S. and Britain overthrew Iran's democratic government in 1953, says the National Security Archives' Malcolm Byrne



Story Transcript



Aaron Maté: It’s The Real News, I’m Aaron Mate. In 1953, the U.S. and Britain overthrew Iran’s democratic government. The reason was oil. Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh had nationalized the country’s oil industry, angering Britain and the oil company that today is known as BP. The British partnered with the CIA to out Mosaddegh and install the Shah, who ruled until his overthrow in the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

The 1953 coup shaped modern Iranian history, but it’s not very well know here in the U.S.. The CIA didn’t acknowledge its role until 2013 and the U.S. government has refused to release the full internal documents that show what it did. Well, that has just changed. The State Department has just released hundreds of pages of documents, not all of them, that provide new details on the CIA’s role in the Iran coup of 1953. To discuss these documents, I spoke today with someone who’s been waiting to read them for a long time.

Malcolm Byrne is Deputy Director at the non-governmental National Security Archive based at George Washington University. He runs the Archive’s Iran-U.S. relations project. Malcolm, welcome.

Malcom Byrne: Thank you very much.

Aaron Maté: Thanks for joining us. Before we get into what these new documents say, I’m wondering if you could set the scene for us in a historical context, talking about what happened in the 1953 coup that the CIA took part in.

Malcom Byrne: Well, it’s a really fascinating historical episode, but it’s one with a lot of current political resonance for Iranians, that is. Most Americans have never heard of the coup and it’s ancient history for us, but for the Iranians, the situation started in the early 1950s. In 1951, they nationalized their oil industry and this was done by their Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.

This was an event that really sent shock waves in the British Empire, which relied on their oil facilities in Iran for a lot of income and they reacted violently. The United States, who they called upon to help them in this because we were allies, but the Truman administration was really not anxious to get involved in anything military or even a covert coup, because they were trying to get the British and the French and others to cut back on their colonial attitude. This is after the war, it’s supposed to be the 20th century, we are in a different world.

So the American came across, at first, as kind of heroes, supports of Iran and this builds on a number of years of his of helping to get the Russians out of the country and so on. But then, in 1953, when President Eisenhower came into office, an entirely different attitude took hold. The U.S., along with British Intelligence, we’re talking about the CIA now, and British Intelligence go together and worked out a plan to overthrow the same Prime Minister Mossadegh because they couldn’t see any other way out of the crisis, which they believed the Americans feared, above all, might lead to some sort of Soviet intervention or Soviet-backed coup inside the country, so that’s how the coup came about.

Aaron Maté: And Mossadegh, he was elected democratically, right?

Malcom Byrne: Yeah. It’s a murky story, because a lot of years have gone by and this is such an emotional history and whenever you have that combination you’ve got to be really careful how you define your terms, what sources, you use, who you believe so on. But generally speaking, this was a country that had elections. There were a lot of times when they were clearly rigged, but the general consensus is that Mossadegh had originally been elected democratically.

Aaron Maté: His move to nationalize the oil industry in 1951 had wide support, if I’m not mistaken?

Malcom Byrne: Inside Iran, definitely. Not by the British, the British were [inaudible 00:04:39] and the Iranians had to take the case to the International Court to try to adjudicate it.

Aaron Maté: What happened there?

Malcom Byrne: They won, so the British were pushed back and that’s part of what led them to think in terms of a coup d’etat or a military strike of some kind.

Aaron Maté: Okay, so the British enlist the U.S. for this operation and the CIA gets involved. The codename is “Operation Ajax.” What happens there?

Malcom Byrne: Well, it takes a long time to plan this thing. The British had come originally, during the Truman period, to try to propose this but the Truman people said, “No, we’re not really interested. You’d better wait until the next group comes in,” because the main interaction was just after the election and Eisenhower had just been elected.

It even took a little bit of time for Eisenhower to come around, but by springtime, ’53, a couple months after he’d taken office, he and his top advisors had pretty much come to the conclusion that they wanted to move in. They were afraid, above all, of Soviet intervention or Soviet advantage of some kind. The British mainly wanted their oil, wanted the revenues from it and so on, but they had a meeting of the minds in terms of their agreement to get rid of Mossadegh.

So they put together a plan, jointly, to get the approval of Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Eisenhower, and that’s in July of 1953, and then by the middle of August, the coup gets underway.

Aaron Maté: Okay, and so these new documents that have come out from the CIA, close to 1,000 pages, reveal some new details of the CIA’s involvement. Can you lay out for us the major disclosures that you’ve seen so far?

Malcom Byrne: Sure. I haven’t gotten through the whole volume yet, but it’s fascinating. I want to say that it may be more interesting for historians than for people who are just coming to the issue for the first time because it fills in a lot of details, it gives you a lot of different perspectives, American perspectives, but different agency perspectives. The CIA versus the State Department versus the White House and so on. It fleshes out the story a lot.

If I could take just one second, it’s important to figure out and understand how we came to know what we know about the coup up to this point, up to last week when the volume was put out. The very first story about the coup came out just a year afterwards, in 1954, in a magazine called “The Saturday Evening Post,” so clearly somebody at the CIA decided that they were gonna leak this story and they put a lot of detail into that article.

But officially, the CIA and the British refused to discuss it, refused to acknowledge their role for decades. In the late 1970s, the the leader of the coup on the ground in Iran, a guy with a familiar name, Kermit Roosevelt, he was a relative of two presidents and he was in …

Aaron Maté: He was the son of Theodore Roosevelt, right?

Malcom Byrne: He was grandson of Theodore and a cousin of Franklin. A sort of an adventurer and someone who thought about all this as “The Great Game,” which was the old expression that they used to use. He was put in charge of this operation and a couple of decades later, he decided he wanted to write about it, and so he did publish a book and there’s an interesting story about how that got past CIA censors but it made it out and it also gave a lot of detail about what was happening.

The problem is, as with any memoir, it’s all about the author, so it’s come under some criticism for being not exactly balanced. It puts Kermit in center stage. At other times, other people have written books who were involved, some British agents for instance, who [inaudible 00:08:49] might be as there. But it’s all bits and piece.

Then in the year 2000, the New York Times got a leak of an internal document, a 200 page CIA history, still classified, that they wrote a giant article about, I think two articles, this being a relatively early age with the internet, they did a great thing. They posted the document on the web. They took out some names and things like that, which was fine, but there the document was. In fact, we have it on our website now, at the National Security archive.


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