Iran Timeline Post-World War II to 1960

1945 – Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi is in power

1951 – Mohammed Mossadegh becomes Prime Minister

–          Last popular, democratically oriented Government in Iran

–          De facto leader of National Front (Secular Political group)

–          Nationalized Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) in May, 1951

1952 – Covert operations led by British MI6 to remove Mossadegh from power

–          PM Mossadegh becomes aware of operations and resigns from office on July 16

–          Massive demonstrations occur calling for Mossadegh to return to office

–          69 people were killed and over 750 were injured

–          Mossadegh returns to office on July 21; “turning point in Iranian history” (Gasirowski 265)

1953 – CIA-led operations to remove Mossadegh gear up, undermining President Truman’s policy

–          US decision to overthrow the Prime Minister was made on February 3, 1953

–          Codenamed “Operation Ajax”

–          Final approval for ‘Ajax’ was made on June 25

–          Four components to the operation as stated by Gasiorowski (p. 272)

  • Propoganda and political action to be turned against Mossadegh
  • Opposition figures were to create disturbances to dramatize situation in Iranian Majlis (Parliament)
  • The Shah was to be consulted about coup and his support be obtained
  • Support of key active-duty military officers

–          August 17, CIA-hired crowd marched on central Tehran acting as a Tudeh demonstration

  • Designed to provoke fear of Tudeh takeover against the Shah
  • Real Tudeh arrived unaware of the reality of the situation and joined in
  • Violence breaks out and crowd attacks Reza Shah mausoleum and statues of Shahs
  • Police broke up violence and turned against Mossadegh
  • Pro-Zahedi crowds appeared garnering more support against Mossadegh in wake of Tudeh violence

–          August 19, more pro-Zahedi demonstrations occur

–          Provoked by the Tudeh demonstrations and disillusionment with Mossadegh, army and police support the demonstrations and attacked offices of Mossadegh newspapers and political parties

–          Mossadegh refuses to break up crowd with violence

–          Demonstrations grow in numbers

–          Pro-Zahedi, pro-Shah and military forces seize army headquarters and march on Mossadegh’s home

–          After a nine-hour battle leaving around 300 people killed, Mossadegh escapes and cedes power to Zahedi the following day

1953 – 1960

–          Iran was ruled as autocracy

–          Foreign companies are allowed access to oil again, splitting profits fifty-fifty

–          Iran joins the Baghdad Pact in 1955

  • Members included Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and Great Britain
  • Called for mutual cooperation and protection
  • Promises of non-intervention in members’ affairs
  • Members promised economic and military aid from the United States, but never followed through
  • Served to gather support against Soviet influence in the Middle East
  • Pact ended in 1979


Gasiorowski, Mark J. “The 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran.” International Journal of Middle East Studies. 19.3 (1987): 261-286. Web. 24 Sep. 2011. Link to Article.


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Filed under History, Iran Overview

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