Demand U.S. Apologize for Iran Coup


Target: President Barack Obama

Goal: Apologize for 1953 overthrow of Prime Minister Mossadegh

Recently, the CIA officially declassified the United States’ execution of a coup overthrowing a democratically elected Iranian leader 60 years ago. While the United States had already acknowledged its role, no official apology has ever been issued for an act that continues to impact American-Iranian relations to this day.

In the early 1950s, Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh sought to liberate his country’s oil industry from foreign exploitation by nationalizing the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Regarding this action as a threat to their economic security, the UK government turned to their American counterpart to help them topple the Iranian leader. The United States, after deciding that escalation between the British government and Mossadegh could eventually put Iran and its oil under Soviet control, agreed to take action.

The plan, entitled “Operation TPAJAX” by the CIA, envisioned the use of multiple methods to end the Mossadegh government and replace it with one under the firm control of the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. These, noted Malcolm Byrne of Foreign Policy, included multiple steps from bribing members of parliament to cultivating public support through propaganda. After two attempts, Mossadegh was removed from office on August 19, 1953. The autocratic Shah’s throne was secured until his own overthrow in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

While the U.S. government, in the persons of former Secretary of State Madeline Albright in 2000 and President Obama in 2009 has long since admitted responsibility, Iran still waits for a full apology. There is no question that such a statement would only help build confidence as the U.S. continues to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program. Acknowledging history’s crimes, however, is simply the right thing to do not just for Iran’s government but for its people. By signing this petition, you will ask President Obama to issue a full apology for the coup against Mossadegh.


Dear President Obama,

Recently, the CIA declassified multiple documents related to its 1953 overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, taking official responsibility for the coup as a product of American foreign policy. While the United States government has long since acknowledged its role, no official apology ever took place.

As you know, the CIA’s participation in the coup was a result of Cold War concerns. The United Kingdom, frustrated by Mossadegh’s nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, convinced the U.S. to support an effort to depose him. Motivated by the scenario that Soviet control of Iran’s oil could result from confrontation between Iran and Britain, the CIA took the lead in planning “Operation TPAJAX.” The coup, a multifaceted operation involving multiple steps from propaganda use to bribing Iranian parliament members, succeeded with the August 19 overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh and the creation of a new government under the control of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. The Shah’s autocratic rule led to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, replacing the monarchy with today’s Islamic Republic.

While you yourself have taken the step of voicing regret over America’s role in the 1953 coup which subverted Iran’s democracy, this did not include a full statement asking forgiveness on behalf of the United States government for this act. Acknowledging history’s crimes is simply the right thing to do not just for Iran’s government but for its people, and could only help as the U.S. continues negotiations into Iran’s nuclear program. I ask that you issue a full apology for the overthrow of Prime Minister Mossadegh.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Alborzagros via Wikimedia Commons

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One Comment

  1. So American. Same with Salvador Allende in Chile.

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