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CIA publicly acknowledges 1953 coup it backed in Iran was undemocratic because it revisits ‘Argo’ rescue

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Whereas revealing new particulars about one of the famed CIA operations of all occasions — the spiriting out of six American diplomats who escaped the 1979 U.S. Embassy seizure in Iran — the intelligence company for the primary time has acknowledged one thing else as nicely.

The CIA now formally describes the 1953 coup it backed in Iran that overthrew its prime minister and cemented the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as undemocratic.

Different American officers have made comparable remarks prior to now, however the CIA’s acknowledgment in a podcast in regards to the company’s historical past comes as a lot of its official historical past of the coup stays labeled 70 years after the putsch. That complicates the general public’s understanding of an occasion that also resonates, as tensions stay excessive between Tehran and Washington over the Islamic Republic’s quickly advancing nuclear program, its aiding of militia teams throughout the Mideast and because it cracks down on dissent.

The “CIA’s management is dedicated to being as open with the general public as attainable,” the company stated in an announcement responding to questions from The Related Press. “The company’s podcast is a part of that effort — and we knew that if we wished to inform this unbelievable story, it was vital to be clear in regards to the historic context surrounding these occasions, and CIA’s position in it.”

In response to questions from the AP, Iran’s mission to the United Nations described the 1953 coup as marking “the inception of relentless American meddling in Iran’s inside affairs” and dismissed the U.S. acknowledgments.

A crowd of demonstrators tear down the Iran Get together’s signal from the entrance of the headquarters in Tehran on Aug. 19, 1953, in the course of the coup that ousted Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and his authorities.AP file

“The U.S. admission by no means translated into compensatory motion or a real dedication to chorus from future interference, nor did it change its subversive coverage in the direction of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the mission stated in an announcement.

The CIA’s podcast, known as “The Langley Recordsdata” as its headquarters is predicated in Langley, Virginia, centered two latest episodes on the story of the six American diplomats’ escape. Whereas hiding on the residence of the Canadian ambassador to Iran, a two-man CIA workforce entered Tehran and helped them fly in a foreign country whereas pretending to be members of a crew scouting for a made-up science fiction movie.

The caper, retold within the 2012 Academy Award-winning movie “Argo” directed by and starring Ben Affleck, supplied a dramatized model of the operation, with Affleck enjoying the late CIA officer Antonio “Tony” Mendez. The podcast for the primary time recognized the second CIA officer who accompanied Mendez, naming him as company linguist and exfiltration specialist Ed Johnson. He beforehand solely had been recognized publicly by the pseudonym “Julio.”

“Working with the six — these are rookies,” Johnson recounts in an interview aired by the podcast. “They had been individuals who weren’t skilled to deceive authorities. They weren’t skilled to be clandestine, elusive.”

However within the podcast, which aired a couple of month earlier than Hamas’ unprecedented assault Saturday on Israel, one other temporary trade focuses on the 1953 coup in Iran.

In it, CIA spokesman and podcast host Walter Trosin cites the claims of company historians that almost all of the CIA’s clandestine actions in its historical past “bolstered” popularly elected governments.

“We should always acknowledge, although, that that is, due to this fact, a extremely important exception to that rule,” Trosin says of the 1953 coup.

CIA historian Brent Geary, showing on the podcast, agrees.

“This is likely one of the exceptions to that,” Geary says.

Image: A royalist tank moves into the courtyard of Tehran Radio a few minutes after pro-shah troops occupied the area during the coup which ousted Mohammad Mossadegh and his government on Aug. 19, 1953.
A royalist tank strikes into the courtyard of Tehran Radio a couple of minutes after pro-shah troops occupied the realm in the course of the coup which ousted Mohammad Mossadegh and his authorities on Aug. 19, 1953.AP file

Seven a long time later, the 1953 coup stays as hotly debated as ever by Iran, its theocratic authorities, historians and others.

Iran’s hard-line state tv spent hours discussing the coup that toppled Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh on its anniversary in June. Of their telling, a straight line leads from the coup to the 1979 Islamic Revolution that finally toppled the fatally in poor health shah. It nonetheless fuels the anti-Americanism that colours choices made by the theocracy, whether or not in arming Russia in its conflict on Ukraine or alleging with out proof that Washington fomented the latest nationwide mass protests concentrating on it.

From the U.S. facet, the CIA’s hand in the coup shortly was revealed as a hit of Chilly Warfare espionage, although historians lately have debated simply how a lot affect the company’s actions had. It additionally led the CIA right into a sequence of additional coups in different international locations, together with Guatemala, the place American clandestine motion in 1954 put in a navy dictator and sparked a 40-year civil conflict that seemingly killed some 245,000 individuals.

That’s led to an American political reappraisal of the 1953 CIA motion in Iran. Then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright acknowledged the U.S.’ “important position” within the coup in 2000. President Barack Obama, talking in Cairo in 2009, described the CIA’s work as resulting in the “overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian authorities.”

However largely absent from the dialogue was the CIA itself. After years of conflicting variations of the coup each in public and labeled papers, a member of the CIA’s personal in-house workforce of historians wrote a reappraisal of the operation in a 1998 paper titled “Zendebad, Shah!” in Farsi — or “Lengthy Dwell the Shah!”

Image: A Communist newspaper kiosk burned by pro-shah demonstrators after the coup d'etat which ousted Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh
A Communist newspaper kiosk burned by pro-shah demonstrators after the coup d’etat which ousted Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, in Tehran, Iran on Aug. 19, 1953. AP file

However regardless of a sequence of American historic paperwork being made public, together with a serious tranche of State Division papers in 2017, giant parts of that CIA reappraisal stay closely redacted regardless of makes an attempt to legally pry them free by the George Washington College-based Nationwide Safety Archive. That’s even after pledges by former company administrators Robert Gates and James Woolsey Jr. within the Nineteen Nineties to launch paperwork from that coup and others engineered by the company.

Additional complicating any historic reckoning is the CIA’s personal admission that many recordsdata associated to the 1953 coup seemingly had been destroyed within the Nineteen Sixties.

“It’s unsuitable to recommend that the coup operation itself has been absolutely declassified. Removed from it,” stated Malcolm Byrne of the Nationwide Safety Archive. “Essential components of the file are nonetheless being withheld, which solely contributes to public confusion and encourages myth-making in regards to the U.S. position lengthy after the very fact.”

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