Features

An Iranian Odyssey: Mossadegh, Oil and the CIA

August 19, 2020
Maziar Bahari
52 min read

On August 19, Iran marks 67 years since the coup that ousted Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. Mossadegh, who led the Iranian government's campaign to nationalize the country's oil industry, was also the country’s first democratically-elected leader. When Iranian military officials, backed by US and UK intelligence units, toppled Mossadegh, not only did they change the course of Iranian history — playing a role in the mobilization of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 — they also shifted geopolitics in the region for decades to come.

As part of the wide-ranging and often divisive debate on the coup’s legacy, IranWire presents An Iranian Odyssey, IranWire director Maziar Bahari's 2010 film about Mossadegh.

 

AN IRANIAN ODYSSEY, MOSSADEGH, OIL AND THE COUP

In 1951 Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh tried to end British domination of Iran. Mossadegh nationalized Iranian oil, which had been monopolized by a single British company, BP, for more than 40 years. Mossadegh had to fight against a virtual alliance of foreign and domestic enemies. They undermined him in a struggle for power and control of oil, a struggle that culminated in a coup d’etat plotted and carried out by the CIA in August 1953.

Decades later, it is impossible to understand Iran without understanding Mossadegh’s victories and failures. Through exclusive access to eyewitnesses and the characters of the story in Iran, UK and the US as well as previously unseen archive material, Maziar Bahari tells the gripping story of the rise and fall of Mossadegh.

An Iranian Odyssey demystifies the current perception of Iran as an irrational and erratic pariah state. The film is not only a historical documentary. It is a relevant modern story that clearly tells the reasons behind the ongoing stand-off between Iran and the West.

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