Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More
Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


How does it feel being interfered with, America?

How does it feel being interfered with, America?

By Stuart Littlewood

15th December 2016

Seriously, is anyone listening to US complaints about outside meddling in their elections?

I’m referring to the fuss over allegations that Russia was hacking Hillary Clinton’s emails during the US presidential campaign. Such small beer compared with the heavy-handed way America interferes in other people’s business!

Who recently tried to sway UK voters in our recent European Union referendum, which was far more important than any general election, by threatening that Britain would go to the back of the queue in the US if we left the EU?

Who didn’t like the result of the last Palestinian election in 2006, won fair and square by Hamas, and has ever since tried every trick in cahoots with Israel and its stooges, including Britain, to crush the resistance party opposing Israel’s illegal occupation?

The US has a history of interfering through either the CIA or the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), for example in Iran, Nicaragua, Bulgaria, Cuba, Mongolia, Haiti, Venezuela, Afghanistan – America just can’t keep its nose out of other nations’ affairs.

And Syria? Yet another unfortunate country on America’s regime change list.

As for the NED, look up its directors on the internet and imagine what their mind-set is.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Israel’s special dispensation

America’s most catastrophic meddling was probably in Iran. I don’t mean the attempt to stop Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 presidential election, in which the US was widely suspected of inciting chaos on the streets. Whatever the truth on that occasion, it’s the perception that counts. And the US already had form.

CNN reported at the time that Barack Obama said the violence used against demonstrators disputing the election results was “outrageous… and despite the government’s efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to that violence, we see it and we condemn it”.

He also claimed it was “absolutely clear” that Ahmadinejad’s chief rival in the election, Mir Hossein Moussavi, had “captured the imagination or the spirit of forces within Iran” and had become a representative of street protesters who clashed with security forces.

Obama said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shared the belief that the Iranian government’s violence against its own citizens was unacceptable.

I continue to believe that, ultimately, it’s up to the Iranian people to make decisions about who their leaders are going to be… A government that treats its own citizens with that kind of ruthlessness and violence and that cannot deal with peaceful protesters who are trying to have their voices heard in an equally peaceful way I think has moved outside of universal norms, international norms that are important to uphold.

Of course, you wouldn’t hear Obama, or any other US president for that matter, upholding those universal and international norms by rapping their bosom-friend Binyamin Netanyahu over the Zionist regime’s frequent use of lethal force against the Palestinian people whose territory it illegally occupies. If any terror regime needed changing, it’s that one.

Addressing the crowds, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, responded:

After street protests, some foreign powers… started to interfere in Iran’s state matters by questioning the result of the vote. I strongly condemn such interference.

American officials’ remarks about human rights and limitations on people are not acceptable because they have no idea about human rights after what they have done in Afghanistan and Iraq and other parts of the world. We do not need advice over human rights from them.

But it was Britain he singled out as the most treacherous of Iran’s enemies. Western diplomats, said Khamenei, “are displaying their enmity against the Islamic republic, and the most evil of them is the British government”. He must have had in mind the deposing of Dr Mohammad Mossadeq and what led up to it.

Iran was subjected to exploitation of the worst kind

No British foreign secretary had set foot in Iran since the 1978/79 revolution until Jack Straw’s one-day visit in 2001, prompted by 9/11. It was an appalling dereliction of duty, considering what a friend Iran (Persia) had once been. In 1901 Persia granted a Devon man, William Knox D’Arcy, a 60-year oil concession covering half a million square miles. When D’Arcy struck oil in 1908 the Anglo-Persian Oil Company was formed. It turned out to be a vital asset to Britain in World War I. From this sprang Anglo-Iranian Oil and subsequently the mighty British Petroleum, BP. But we repaid Iran with corporate greed and diplomatic double-cross. The greedy British were raking in more profit from Iran’s oil than the Iranians themselves.

The US State Department was also sniffing around. Back in the 1920s it had described the oil deposits in the Middle East as “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history”.

Then up popped Dr Mossadeq. In March 1951 the Iranian parliament voted to nationalise Anglo-Iranian Oil, in which the British government had a majority shareholding and which had controlled Iran’s oil industry since 1913 under terms that were extremely disadvantageous to Iran. Dr Mossadeq, as the newly elected prime minister, carried out his government’s wish to cancel Anglo-Iranian’s oil concession, which was not due to expire for another 42 years, and take over its assets.

In a speech in June 1951 he explained why.

The Iranian state prefers to take over the production of petroleum itself. The company should do nothing else but return its property to the rightful owners. The nationalisation law provides that 25 per cent of the net profits on oil be set aside to meet all the legitimate claims of the company for compensation…

It has been asserted abroad that Iran intends to expel the foreign oil experts from the country and then shut down oil installations. Not only is this allegation absurd; it is utter invention…1

The Arab-American Oil Co (Aramco) was said to be sharing profits 50/50 with the Saudis. Britain had been paying Iran only 16 per cent during the inter-war years and treating Iranian oil workers abominably while profiting hugely herself.

What revenue Iran did receive went to repay debts still owed to European creditors by the country’s extravagant shahs. Furthermore, the company reneged on agreements to train Iranian technicians and engineers, and it paid its Iranian workers considerably less than foreigners and forced them into sub-standard housing. “Wages were 50 cents a day,” according to a director’s report. “There was no holiday pay, no sick leave, no disability compensation. The workers lived in a shanty town called Kaghazabad, or Paper City, without running water or electricity.”

The company had promised to build schools, hospitals, roads and a telephone system, but never did. It was exploitation of the worst kind. And remember, the British government had the controlling interest in Anglo-Iranian and its Aberdan refinery, which was the largest in the world.

Faced with Mossadeq’s move to nationalise, the British government went mad and imposed a blockade and crippling sanctions, quickly reducing the country to chaos. Britain looked to America for help in bringing Iran to heel, but the US initially opposed Britain’s behaviour with Dean Acheson calling it “destructive”. However, when Dwight Eisenhower entered the White House in 1953 America’s attitude changed. Mossadeq, popular and highly regarded, was removed in a coup by MI5 and the CIA, imprisoned for three years then put under house arrest until his death.

US and UK themselves in need of regime change

The CIA-engineered plot reinstated the hated Shah and his secret police, and let the American oil companies in. For ordinary Iranians it was the final straw. The British-American conspiracy backfired spectacularly 25 years later with the Islamic revolution of 1978-79, the humiliating 444-day hostage crisis in the American embassy and a tragically botched rescue mission.

Thereafter, the US and Britain were known as “Great Satan” and “Little Satan” respectively. But what should have been a sharp lesson for Western meddlers has become a festering sore. The US seems more determined than ever to seize this vast energy resource through regime change. And never mind the consequences for millions of innocents.

And Iran has not forgotten past crimes. How could it?

US and British leaders, now as then, continue to demonstrate that there is nothing too devious or too dishonest for them to contemplate and carry out. Double standards are their way of life. It is laughable – and embarrassing – when they lecture others about principles and have to be slapped down by the ayatollah.

The joke is, America and Britain themselves are in dire need of regime change. But it is better coming from within. We in the UK have already started ours. It’s called Brexit. We’re finally breaking free from suffocating EU control. We never gave our government permission to make us vassals of the EU in the first place and we’re driving that point home. There will be trouble if they mess up getting us out.

Perhaps Trump is America’s regime change, though few will be convinced that change has come until they see the whole gruesome neo-conservative crew dangling from Brooklyn Bridge.

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Top Scoops Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.