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Iran’s 1953 coup vs. Imran Khan’s ouster

Interestingly, events leading to Iran's 1953 coup are similar to the recent political events that took place in Pakistan ahead of former Prime Minister Imran Khan's ouster, especially the controversial US-backed conspiracy against him.

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The year 2022 will be an important year in Pakistan’s political history as it was the country’s first time a prime minister was forcefully ousted on the basis of a vote of no-confidence.

However, such forceful power shifts have always been a part of politics. One of Pakistan’s top independent intelligence platforms, OSINT Insider, recalled Iran’s 1953 coup against democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq.

In a series of tweets, OSINT Insider, while referencing “CIA Clandestine Service History – Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran, November 1952 – August 1953”, talked about the CIA’s involvement in anti-Mossadeq campaigns in Tehran.

Read more: Iran confirms upcoming visit of Qatar’s Emir to Tehran

During the tenure of Mossadeq’s predecessor PM Ali Raza, Iran was facing unrest as nationalist groups wanted to nationalize oil controlled by the French and British companies, or perhaps at least benefit from a more profitable oil deal. The British company Anglo Iran Oil Company (AIOC) was giving only 16% of its total net profit to Iran. It also rejected to raise the profits, sparking huge resentment in Iran against AIOC. Radical groups began targetting AIOC sites.

Important to note that Ali Raza opposed oil nationalization. As a result, the Fadayan-e Islam assassinated him. And Mosaddeq, with the Shah of Iran’s approval, was democratically elected as the Prime Minister of Iran in 1951.

Mosaddeq’s tenure and CIA involvement

After becoming PM, Mosaddeq began negotiating with AIOC to agree on a deal that is similar to a 50/50 share US-Saudi oil deal. However, AIOC rejected the proposal. Undeterred, Mosaddeq went ahead and nationalized AIOC. Moreover, he also cut all diplomatic ties with the UK. This increased his popularity with the Iranian public. However, such a bold move resulted in backlash and UK began working to undermine Mosaddeq.

“MI6 documents in this regard are a treasure trove on how MI6 actively worked to undermine Mussadeq government,” OSINT Insider tweeted.

Read more: Ex-Mi6 chief blames ISI for Taliban victory

“These declassified documents offer a deep insight on how rioters were hired and paid hefty amounts to launch violent demonstrations against PM Musaddeq,” OSINT Insider added.

Moreover, the US and UK began working together against Mosaddeq. Iran’s pro-Shah and pro-West groups were funded to start violent protests against Mosaddeq who also became aware of conspirators within his government.

On the other hand, Iranian CIA operatives within Iranian Intelligence threatened Iran’s religious leaders with “savage punishment if they opposed Mussadeq”. This gave a false impression that Mosaddeq was launching a crackdown, and stirred anti-Mosaddeq sentiments.

Due to the deep political chaos, Mosaddeq approached the public and appealed to the Shah of Iran to announce early elections. However, the Shah refused because he was threatened by Mosaddeq’s popularity. Meanwhile, the CIA painted Mosaddeq as anti-democratic leader and also backed the Shah.

Shah of Iran takes over

In the end, the Shah agreed to overthrow Mosaddeq. Tehran became a warzone as Mosaddeq refused to leave office and massive protests began – both in his favor and against.

On the other hand, the Shah was determined and had him arrested by Iran’s Royal military. Mosaddeq eventually surrendered and things gradually came under control in Iran. For his “punishment” Mosaddeq was put under house arrest, his friends and associates were killed, and journalists were barred from giving him coverage. Basically, the Shah removed all public records of Mosaddeq.

However, the public never took to the Shah’s rule who brought in many pro-Western changes. Hard-core religious groups became more popular, deeply polarizing the Iranian society. Despite Iran’s secret police’s crackdown, the Shah could not contain the charged religious groups.

Imran Khan’s ouster vs. Iran’s 1953 Coup

Interestingly, events leading to Iran’s 1953 coup are similar to the recent political events that took place in Pakistan ahead of former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ouster, especially his controversial claims of a US-backed conspiracy against him. While OSINT Insider’s Twitter series on the 1953 Iranian Coup makes no mention of Pakistan’s political events, it is hard to ignore the connection.

Both leaders took a hard-line stance against the West which led to severe repercussions, that too from the West. While Mosaddeq severed diplomatic ties with the UK, Imran Khan said the iconic “Absolutely Not” to the US.

Read more: Pakistan would ‘absolutely not’ allow US bases in Pakistan, PM Khan

Moreover, in both situations, issues arose over the elusive oil deals. Imran Khan has claimed that he went to Russia to seek cheaper oil for Pakistan – a move that sparked mass criticism as the visit was amidst the Russia-Ukraine war.

While the US did not openly condemn Imran Khan’s visit, it certainly pressurized Pakistan to condemn Russia’s military actions in Ukraine which Pakistan never did. As a result, the visit was perceived as a slap on the US’ face.

According to Imran Khan’s narrative, his blatant refusal to appease the US resulted in an international conspiracy to topple his government. The Shah of Iran had the CIA’s support, PTI has also accused PML-N and PPP of working with foreign conspirators.

Furthermore, there were conspirators against Mosaddeq within his government. In Imran Khan’s situation, several PTI MNAs joined the then Opposition ahead of the no-confidence motion.

Read more: Supreme Court to decide fate of rebel PTI MNAs

Following his ouster, Imran Khan has become even more popular. Just like most of the Iranian public rose against the Shah’s rule post-Mosaddeq, the Pakistani population too is rejecting the incumbent PML-N-led government.