Crazy Popular

August 20, 1953 — The Calgary Herald

The Mossadegh Project | August 20, 2023                

The Calgary Herald newspaper (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) reacted positively, yet cautiously, to news of the Aug. 19th overthrow of Premier Mossadegh in Iran.

Canadian media archive

Too Early For Optimism Over Persia

Another fantastic, confusing and violent chapter is being written into the history of Persia, which ever since April, 1951, has been in incredible turmoil.

At the time of writing, Premier Mohammed Mossadegh had simply disappeared, his dictatorial regime overthrown by Persian forces loyal to Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi. [Mohammad Reza Pahlavi] The Shah himself was in Rome, where he had fled only a few days previously when an earlier attempt to throw out Mossadegh had failed.

Reportedly in control, is the new premier, is Maj.-Gen. Fazollah Zahedi, a so-called army “strong man.” [Fazlollah Zahedi]

It is much too early to form any firm opinions of what all this bloodshed and violent upheaval might mean.

It may be said, however, without much fear of contradiction, that whoever is in or may be shuffled into power in Tehran will be infinitely preferable to the madman Mossadegh. It is hardly conceivable that even Persia would go through such convulsions to replace one lunatic with another, although recent history suggests that Persia is capable of anything.

It was in 1951 that Mossadegh came into power. It was Mossadegh who engineered the bare-faced theft of the $1,500,000,000 Anglo-Iranian oil development, swept his country towards bankruptcy when this main source of government revenue dried up, and has been weeping, wailing, fainting, collapsing and conniving all over the map ever since to prevent any sensible settlement of the problem. It may be observed that, for a man as mortally ill as he appeared to be, he disappeared with agility.

Theft of enormously valuable British government property was bad enough, but the political repercussions were even worse. Ordinarily, nobody would care what kind of political idiocy Persia indulged in internally, except that Persia also occupies a highly strategic position between Turkey and India and of course the Communists are patiently waiting for Persia to strangle itself so they can move in.

What will happen now is anybody’s guess, but there is no cause for exuberant optimism yet. The Shah is reportedly sympathetic to the West, but Gen. Zahedi is no particular friend of Britain’s. Furthermore, crazy as he is, Mossadegh is tremendously popular in Persia, and his fanatically anti-British policies were popular, too. Even if a new and reasonably stable government is formed, and even if its leaders are generally well-disposed personally to the West, there are limits beyond which they cannot go without setting off further mass violence and upheaval.

Even if Mossadegh is gone, violence and uncertainty are still the order of the Persian day. Those are things the Communists love.

70th Anniversary of TIME’s 1951 Man of the Year
Challenge of the East: TIME's 1951 Man of the Year Mohammad Mossadegh


Related links:

Latest Turn of the Whirling Dervish | Calgary Herald, Oct. 17, 1952

The Shah In Flight | The Evening Citizen, August 18, 1953

The Iran Coup | Lethbridge Herald, August 20, 1953

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Tumblr   Instagram