Ruthless People
August 24, 1953 — The Mercury

The Mossadegh Project | April 11, 2021                         

Lead editorial on the 1953 coup in Iran in The Mercury newspaper (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia).

Australian media archive


DR. MOSSADEQ’S overthrow by supporters of the Shah was an unexpected stroke of fortune for the West. A few days ago it seemed inevitable that Persia would fall into Russia’s grasp, with grave strategic consequences in the world struggle. Now control has swung back towards those more friendly to the West.

Dr. Mossadeq was a catastrophe for Persia. By driving out the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company he brought the country close to chaos and ruin, and played the very game Russia wanted.

The new regime will not be pro-British; it could not take such a risk, whatever its wishes. Dr. Mossadeq whipped up Persian nationalism and it will not subside with a change of Government. All Gen. Zahedi can do is divert nationalist fanaticism into safer channels. [Fazlollah Zahedi]

The fact that Gen. Zahedi is backed by Kashani, the powerful anti-foreign mullah, is a warning to the West not to expect too much. [Ayatollah Kashani] However, the new Government will probably appreciate economic realities, and adopt a commonsense attitude on such issues as the oil dispute.

The West no longer has an urgent need of Persian oil. Increased supplies are available from other sources, although the loss of Abadan’s refining facilities is still felt. It is necessary to get Persian oil flowing again to the West mainly to prevent it from going to Russia and to rescue Persia from her economic crisis.

Against a confused background of shifting political alliances it would be rash to predict a long life for the new Government. Gen. Zahedi is not supported by a united country. Even the army, the instrument of his power, is weakened by Communist infiltration and divided loyalties.

The Government’s future depends on whether it introduces economic and social reforms, and its readiness to defy the strong feudal landlords and give the peasants a new deal. Little can be expected of the Shah, who has good intentions but is weak. The need is for strength, for a ruthless reformer who will cut through Persia’s corrupt pretence of democracy and do for her what Ataturk did for Turkey. Time will show whether Gen. Zahedi is such a man.

Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954
Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954


Related links:

Chance For West in Persian Upheaval | The Northern Star, August 24, 1953

Red Grip Closing On Persia | The Mercury, August 12, 1953

The Persian Coup | The Canberra Times, August 21, 1953

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

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