“Of course, it all goes back to Mossadegh, doesn’t it?”
Jon Snow, Reporting From Iran

Brit Journalist Has Covered Iranian Events Since 1979

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project
| November 4, 2007                         
[Updated November 9, 2015]

Jon Snow: A British Journalist Reporting From Iran

British broadcaster and journalist Jon Snow has reported from all around the world, but Iran, where he has often visited, holds particular fascination.

A self-diagnosed “unapologetic Iranophile”, Snow was an eyewitness to the overthrow of the Shah (“a popular revolution on a massive scale”, he says) and nearly every major event in Iran since. During the 2013 elections, Snow was the only British journalist permitted to report from the country, covering the victory of President Hassan Rouhani.

In the past he has interviewed Iranian Presidents Abolhassan Banisadr and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, along with world leaders including Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Hugo Chavez, Idi Amin, Jimmy Carter and Mikhail Gorbachev.

After a 2006 interview with British Prime Minister Tony Blair for Channel 4 News, Snow brought up Iran and its difficult history with Britain and America in conversation. “Of course, it all goes back to Mossadegh, doesn’t it?”, asked Snow. Drawing a blank, Blair had to concede that he had (apparently) never even heard of Premier Mossadegh or the 1953 coup in Iran.

After Tony Blair stepped down as Prime Minister, Snow offered advice for Blair’s replacement, Mr. Gordon Brown in a 2007 article in The Daily Mail. Snow, who first went to Iran in 1970 and has reported extensively from there since the revolution, proposed that Brown travel to Iran within his first 100 days in office, noting that Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had already visited Iran five times.

During Snow’s own time in Tehran, he observed a society that is “ancient and modern, fundamentalist and secular, authoritarian and liberal.” •

Jon Snow on Iran

2015 NIAC Leadership Conference: Gala Keynote Speech
October 24, 2015

Jon Snow recalls his 2006 conversation with a dumbfounded Tony Blair, referencing the 1953 coup. The final question of the evening (at 46:35) deals with Mossadegh as well.


“I was intrigued back in 2006 when Britain was at the forefront of drawing up ever more draconian sanctions against Iran at the United Nations, to be chatting with the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair. I had just done a formal interview with him in Egypt. It was about the tsunami, in which about 120 Brits had died amongst the many thousands of others who died.

As it happened to be New Year’s Day, he asked me what I was worried about in the coming year.

I said, “I’m not worried about anything. I’m only worried about what you’re worried about.”

He said well — and this is extraordinary in 2006 — “Well, we’re very worried about the Saudis.”

I thought that was an extraordinary statement. Perhaps flippantly, I said, “Well, we’re always worried about the Saudis, but it won’t happen this year will it?”

He agreed, and I added “So, what about Iran?”

And perhaps too fast I suggested, “Of course, it all goes back to Mossadegh, doesn’t it?”

And he said “John, you’re going to have to remind me.”

It beggars belief that at such a moment a British Prime Minister had no idea of what we had done to Iran’s last democratically elected Prime Minister, who we — that is, America and Britain — had overthrown in 1953.

Yet had he been briefed on any side of a fall, probably paragraph two would’ve stated that any British Prime Minister dealing with Iran needs to know exactly what we did and why Iranians resent it.

I still wonder if on that day George W. Bush knew either.
Indeed there are times when I actually — and I mean this — I wonder whether either of them had any real awareness of the profound differences between Sunni and Shiia Islam.

This lack of history in a region so trampled upon by Westerners, the prolonged failure to engage with Iran and instead the huge investment and trying to batter down her pride and capacity with the worst sanctions regime ever meted out against any country has today left its own dangerous legacy.”

At last, Washington’s poodle asserts itself on Iran
June 17, 2014 [blog]

To be British in Tehran is to be cast as a pseudo-American. Nowhere is Britain more graphically depicted as Washington’s poodle. And to a very large extent British interests in Iran have been very severely damaged by our failure to pursue a foreign policy with Iran that was completely independent of US influence.

Indeed, it has cost this country dear and done us no detectable benefit in Washington. We have lost billions in trade relations and much more.

The United Kingdom has enjoyed some 300 years of relations with what once was Persia. The US has had less than three decades of full diplomatic relations – conducted during the worst years of the Shah.

Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh (1882-1967) On his behalf, in 1953, we even conspired with Washington to overthrow Iran’s last democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh. He’d nationalised the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later to become British Petroleum) because of gross under-payments for the oil they were extracting.

Sadly, the British did not learn from the event, and neither did the Americans, who set about trying to run Iran like a 51st US state. A blind eye was turned to the Shah’s abuse of human rights, and few spotted the resentment that would fuel one of history’s most dramatic revolutions.

Take tea in Tehran, Gordon...it will be as sweet as the welcome
The Daily Mail — May 6, 2007 [link]

“Despite the hejabs and the morality police, Iran looks West. Most people I met had an iPod and a laptop. Iran boasts a 6,000-year-old civilisation, but it is also a young country - half of its people are under the age of 25.

Frequently, the Iranians I met told me how much they loved the British. They did not mention the war in Iraq, although they often reminded me that we overthrew their revered nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq back in 1953. Almost every time they asked me, ‘Will we be bombed?’”

70th Anniversary of TIME’s 1951 Man of the Year

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Related links:

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn Calls Mossadegh Era “High Point of Freedom in Iran”

New Zealand MP Russell Norman Talks 1953 Iran Coup in Parliament (VIDEO)

House of Commons Ponders Apology For 1953 Coup In Iran

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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