“We Want Mossadegh!”

January 28, 1962 — New York Daily News

The Mossadegh Project | September 14, 2022                

“...Amini himself has said ruefully that if all corrupt officials were jailed, the government would break down from lack of manpower.”

This piece ran in the Daily News (New York, NY) as part of their “The Week In Focus” page. It contained a file photo of Mossadegh with the caption: “Mossadegh Comeback?”.

IRAN: Rioters Cry for Return of ‘Old Weepy’

“We want Mossadegh!”

Through picturesque bazaars and outside modernistic office buildings, that cry resounded in Tehran last week as thousands of students battled soldiers and police. The outbreaks were the worst in Iran since Premier Mohammed Mossadegh, the weeping political wizard who dominated the nation for two wild years, was finally toppled from power in August, 1953.

Hard-bitten Premier Ali Amini’s U.S.-trained security forces finally enforced a tense calm Wednesday after three days of rioting in Tehran and elsewhere in the country. But the outbursts served notice that Iran, a key nation in the “northern tier” Mideast defense line against Russia and one of the world’s leading oil producers, is in trouble.

They also underlined the fact that Mossadegh, who nationalized Iran’s foreign-owned oil wells, flirted with the Communists and almost drove Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi from power, is still a potent force in the nation despite three years in prison and five years under house arrest. Now over 80, he could still tag a revolutionary comeback. [Mossadegh was 79. How did he flirt with Communists? They never say. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled Iran on his own accord after a CIA-backed coup attempt failed.]

What was behind the ferment in Iran, a U.S. ally which has received more than $1 billion in American over the past eight years and a nation with a traditional fear and distrust of neighboring Russia? Mossadegh’s overthrow by a military coup (which many Iranians believe was U.S.-inspired) was followed by a prosperity boom. Reopening of the oil wells brought the government $300 million a year from foreign concessionaires, and U.S. aid poured in to bolster the anti-Communist Shah.

In an easy-money atmosphere reminiscent of the 1929 crash, industrial and real estate promoters made fortunes overnight. Supermarkets and apartment buildings sprouted across the desert as Tehran changed from an Oriental city of 600,000 to a Westernized metropolis of almost two million persons.

But the new wealth that came to a handful of upper-crust Iranians merely increased the gulf between the rich and millions of peasants and workers living at subsistence level. Inflation actually depressed lower-class living standards. When the prosperity bubble burst early last year, political turmoil quickly followed.

Amini, chosen by the Shah last May to get the country out of its economic mess, is a tough reformer favored by the U.S. He pledged to break up huge landed estates and give land to the peasants under a reform program; crack down on rampant government corruption, and restore financial stability through an austerity program.

But violent opposition has slowed Amini’s ambitious program. Only a handful of anti-corruption arrests have been made, and Amini himself has said ruefully that if all corrupt officials were jailed, the government would break down from lack of manpower.

The financial crisis has been eased, largely through emergency injections of U.S. funds. But Iran’s big landowners are rallying against Amini’s proposals to buy and redistribute their holdings (though the shah himself has taken the lead by giving up his own vast estates).

Politically, Amini is without party backing and has been forced to rule by decree. Parliament was dissolved when he came to power, on grounds of election corruption, and the powerful leftist National Front, Mossadegh’s old party, has been agitating with growing force for new elections. The front claims its candidates would win in a sweep.

Amini angrily accused Russian and East German agents of fomenting last week’s riots. He forced his rival, military strong man Gen. Taymour Bakhtiar, out of the country. [SAVAK chief Teymour Bakhtiar, later assassinated by govt. agents in 1970] But his sharpest words were reserved for an estimated 2,000 officials and landowners whom he charged with balking his reforms at their own risk. “I need a big Noah’s Ark to load these people in and push them out into the Persian Gulf to save the nation from revolution,” the harried premier said.

IRAN PROTESTS 2022: Woman, Life, Freedom
IRAN PROTESTS 2022: Woman, Life, Freedom

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Related links:

Queens College Yields To Anti-Iran Sit-in | New York Daily News, Feb. 18, 1977

Pulling the Strings: 1962 Memo Reveals U.S. Feared Shah’s Fall

Explosive Developments In Iran | CIA Report, May 4, 1961

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

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