Middle East

Iran: A Case Study Part 1

The first oil discoveries in the Middle East were made by the British in Iran, in 1909. A company, Anglo-Persian Oil was formed to exploit this concession. This find also ignited the already brutal contest between Britain and Germany. During the 2nd World War, Iran was occupied in the north by the Russians, and in the south by the British, to pre-empt a tilt toward Germany by Iran‘s ruler the Shah of Iran. He was sent into exile, to South Africa.

After the war, the Russians withdrew, but the British stayed on. In 1951, a nationalist, Mohammed Mossadeq became Prime Minister of the country.  He fought for economic independence, and for Iran to control its own oil policies. In 1953, he nationalized Anglo Iranian Oil Company, or AIOC.  In response the British turned to the Americans for help.

In return for a half share in Iran’s oil industry, Washington stepped in, and overthrew Mossadeq. The CIA was the contractor assigned this job. The project was called “Operation Ajax”. Google this for more details. The CIA man on the ground was Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt. With the help of the bazaar merchants, the Iranian mafia – The “chekou kesh”, and the clergy, the job was done.

After this coup, the Shah of Iran was put back into power. In 1957, the Shah established a state security organization, Savak. From the start, Iran’s new intelligence service received a great deal of support from Israel’s Mossad, especially relying on Mossad torture specialists. The Israeli connection to Savak at this time penetrated deep into Iran’s clergy; in that year there were 11 Mossad agents in Iran to help organize Savak. By 1976, over 500 Israeli intelligence personnel were stationed in Teheran, where they were involved in almost every branch of the Savak apparatus.

The Savak also began to put on its payroll a vast army of mullahs and ayatollahs, preferring those with links to the chaqou-kesh. Salaries ranged from as low as $100 a month to as high as $1000 a month. One of the people placed on the savak payroll was an obscure mullah named Ruhollah Khomeini, at a salary of $300 per month. Now, comes the interesting parts.

1962: The first head of Savak was Teymour Bakhtiar. Early in the year, the Shah fired him as he was formenting rebellion against the Shah. Bakhtiar fled Iran to Geneva. Later that year the Shah went to Washington and made a deal with President Kennedy. The Shah proposed a deal to JFK; If Kennedy would allow the Shah to fire Prime Minister Amini, the Shah would agree to the policies demanded by Washington. Upon his return to Teheran, the Shah fired Amini – and then reneged on the deal. Kennedy was outraged.

Kennedy called Bakhtiar to the White House for a meet.  The subject of the meeting: to plot against the Shah. The means they selected: Ruhollah Khomeini.

It is one of the ironies of history that the man responsible for bringing down the Shah in 1979 was a paid agent of foreign powers. To begin with his name is not really Khomeini. He selected the name “Ruhullah Khomeini” for himself sometime in the 1930s. Because his grandfather was born  in Kashmir, India, one of his brothers chose the name “hindi” , because of his business dealings with India. Since the days he was a religious student, Khomeini received rations from the British, under the label of ‘monthly tuition’ from the proceeds of the Indian awqaf (religious affairs dept), received monthly payments from British agents and was in constant contact with his masters.  The CIA was not the only agency sponsoring the 1953 overthrow of Mossadeq. Ayatollah Kashani was the chief clergy in Iran, and he was close to the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Iran, the Fedayeen-e Islam. In the 1950s, the leader of the Fedayeen was Ayatollah Navabsafavi. With between 200 and 300 members, the Fedayeen was in secret existence since the early 1940s, when the MB’s apparatus in Egypt – which itself had been cut out of whole cloth by MI6- extended its reach into Iran. The Iranian branch of the MB was known almost exclusively for its spectacular assassinations, including the murders of at least two prime ministers.

British intelligence’s influence over Iran’s clergy was no secret, even many years ago. The Shah’s twin sister, Ashraf Pahlavi , in her book, ‘Faces in a mirror’ wrote:” Many influential clergymen formed alliances with representatives of foreign powers, most often the British. And there was, in fact, a standing joke in Persia that said if you picked up a clergyman’s beard, you would see the words “Made in England” stamped on the other side.”

During the previous year, Khomeini  had been working extensively with Bakhtiar’s Savak.. Building a reputation for himself as an uncompromising fanatical ideologue, he was fast becoming a cult hero for many Iranians. It was Khomeini who would be pushed forward to lead the fight against the Shah’s 1963 “White Revolution”.

There were three groups of British agents who led the anti-Shah revolts of 1963. The first was the Freemasons in Iran – who sided with the British during the struggles over the nationalization of the oil industry; the second were the feudal class, and the third were the clergy.

In 1962, the bearded ayatollah with the evil stare issued his first major proclamation, attacking the government’s plan to enfranchise women as a violation of the status of women in Islam. Then, in 1963, when the White Revolution was underway, Khomeini had his first serious confrontation with the Shah, – ten years after he had marched in the streets to bring the Shah to power.

The White Revolution challenged Iran’s old families, since it expropriated feudal estates and either handed them over to peasants or turned them into state co-ops.. The act struck at the heart of the feudal-clergy alliance. By January 1963, Khomeini was arrested for accusing the Shah of violating Islam’s precepts by the nationalization measures. Released, and arrested several times, the Shah finally had enough. He sent Khomeini into exile. Khomeini went first to Turkey, and later settled in Iraq.

Meanwhile, general Bakhtiar had quietly moved from his Swiss headquarters to Iraq, where he operated secretly in Baghdad. British influence in Iraq was then strong.  Together, Bakhtiar, Khomeini and British Intelligence continued to stir up trouble in Iran. In August 1970, the Shah assassinated bakhtiar. For Khomeini, now a lonely mullah in Iraq, his chief sponsor and patron was dead.

Khomeini’s return to Iran on February 1, 1979, marked a year long Anglo-American campaign to destabilize Iran. Not for a moment during his exile was he out of control of MI6. With the coming to power in 1968 of the Baath Party in Iraq, Khomeini was kept under a careful watch by Baghdad’s intelligence services, who did not want him stirring up trouble among the large Shia population of Iraq. Because of his status as a religious leader, the Iraqis believed it impossible to arrest him.

Millions of middle class Iranians fled the country rather than endure the Khomeini regime’s horrors. At the beginning, because many Iranians chafed under the Shah’s one-man rule, they naively thought that by supporting Khomeini’s movement, they could rid themselves of the Shah, and then dispense with Khomeini. Such was not the case.

In any developing country, the ruler- if he is even remotely concerned with the country’s welfare- is faced with the fundamental problem: how to end the misery and backwardness of the rural peasants. The peasant – uneducated and unaware of the world outside- is locked at a level not much higher than his beasts of burden. Such a population is desperately in need of an education program, to enable it to become capable of assimilating modern technology.

The life of rural idiocy makes the peasant population vulnerable to manipulation or bribery that molds it into a “popular rebellion”.

Khomeini’s insane version of Islam has made him the subject of ridicule among other Muslims, both Sunni and Shia. Many of the highest authorities in the Muslim world, the ulema (clergy) condemn him as a heretic for, among other reasons – probably the most sacrilegious thing that a Muslim could say – claiming that he himself is more powerful than the Prophet Muhammed. Many Shia resent the fact that Khomeini has usurped the title of the “Imam”, for that title is an extremely solemn one for those of the Shia faith. Many even argue that Khomeini cannot even legitimately be called an “ayatollah”.

Let’s fast forward to 1972. The British Empire is very broke. Its financial position forced it to withdraw from many areas around the world. The Persian Gulf was one such region. The Americans moved in and replaced the British.  The Americans placed The Shah of Iran as their new regional policeman. Due to rising oil prices, Iran had the ability to buy huge amounts of arms from the US.  It had the financial means to industrialise its economy, as well as modernizing its armed forces.  The Shah now came more firmly under American control. Iran’s oil revenue increased dramatically after the 1973 war between Israel and the Arabs. This huge influx of cash went to the Shah’s head. He then initiated two economic deals that sealed his fate.

The Romania Deal

In February 1975, the Shah clinched a barter deal with Romania, brokered by Moscow. In March 1975, a meeting took place in New York, at the offices of David Rockefeller, whose family were the uncrowned kings of oil and finance, globally.  David’s office was on the 17th floor of the Chase Manhattan building, in a side office called “Middle East Oil”. He was the most powerful individual in America. And, the head of the Chase Manhattan Bank, America’s largest. The Rockefeller oil portfolio included Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, among many others.

Present at the meeting was the head of Exxon, a key Rockefeller oil company, and a few of his key staff. From the British side was Edmond Rothschild, the head of the French branch of the Rothschild family, the most powerful and richest family in Europe. The Rothschild holdings in oil and finance were immense. Along with Evelyn were a few of his key staff. The oil portfolio of the Rothschild family was held by the French branch, as they entered the oil business in 1878, in Baku. The following oil companies are under their control ; Total,  Shell, and BP, among others.

This meeting was secretly recorded by Houshang Ansari- the Shah’s finance minister, who was waiting outside the room, in case if needed. He used a SAM (Sound Activated Microphone) pen, to record these conversations.

I would not normally include the entire record of the meeting, but it is crucial for you, dear reader, to understand the mindset of the power overlords of the world. How do they think? What do they discuss, and how do they plot and plan the takedown of a government. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the workings of these people. It will absolutely shock you, but this is just a small part of what is to follow. Here goes: The four principal speakers are, David Rockefeller (DR), Edmond Rothschild (ER), Eric Drake of BP(ED) and German Lochem (GL) of Shell. Exxon Chairman (EM).

EM: “Gentlemen, I’ve requested this extraordinary formal session because of the grave and impending nature of this crisis we face. I think you will consider the inconvenience of flying into New York at such short notice justified as the ramification of the problem become apparent.”

“I will be brief as I can on the background so we can reach the crux of the matter quickly. As you are all no doubt aware, The Shah of Iran is presently on the last day of a ten-day state visit to Rumania. During the course of this period, intelligence reports starting coming in indicating that top secret negotiations were taking place between the two countries that, if successful, could shake the very foundations of our organization. On its own, the deal is peanuts. But it’s the first entry into the market-place by an OPEC nation. That is what’s wrong.”

“Fundamentally, what the Shah signed in Bucharest last Friday – the document is dated February 28, 1975 – is an assault on our monopoly. The overt challenge by an oil producer to bypass our marketing apparatus and acquire independent markets. Unfortunately, these negotiations have been successfully concluded. Ansari, who went along as the Shah’s Finance Minister, has just flown in from Bucharest. He is here on a round of previously scheduled talks with the people in Washington, and he’s brought with him a copy  of the final accord. Incidentally, Ansari is standing by next door should any of us have any questions.”

Edmond Rothschild(ER): “What are the terms of the accord ?”

Exxon: “It’s a barter agreement. The Iranians are to supply $150m of oil per year and receive in return an equivalent dollar value in agricultural equipment and foodstuffs. But the ramifications are devastating.”

David R: “How deeply does it cut into the marketing network?”

Exxon: “The answer to that, David, is it doesn’t. But it’s the precedent we have been watching for. Like everything else about OPEC, it will lead to leapfrogging. Once the Iranians get away with this deal – and knowing the Shah, he will find some absurdly glittering manner to proclaim his achievement – every OPEC nation will seek its own market. Kuwait will want to enter Australia, Bahrain – Japan, Nigeria- Brazil, and so on. They will bypass us.”

David R: “Well, as I understand it, this isn’t altogether unexpected. Clear-cut contingency plans designed to handle just such an event has been in existence for some time. The drawback has always been our reluctance to activate them. The time has obviously come to put that reluctance aside.”

“This is a watershed problem, and I think it might help if we reflect a moment before we go further. The essence of this Trust has been its ability to retain its unity in times of stress, I urge you to recall the preamble to our constitution: “Only through cooperation comes power.” And remember how well those words served us in the past.(Ed Note: there was raging a vicious  oil price war in the world between London and New York from 1890 to 1927. It ended in 1927, with the discovery of oil in Kirkuk, Iraq. The oil producers formed a cartel to divide the world between their respective oil companies, thus, the 1928 Achnarry Castle Agreement, known as the ‘As Is’ Agreement).

Drake (BP): “Your point is well taken. No one is questioning 1928. We are all committed to it. But in addition to co-operation, 1928 also suggests that responsibility and risk be equally distributed among the economic units. The area in question is of peripheral interest to two of us present. To GL (Shell) and myself it endangers all four of our sources of supply: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and the Arab Emirates. Your prime concern – the Saudi production – would be unaffected. The pipelines you built down to the Red sea ensures that. You are not affected by the Strait of Hormuz and its closure.”

Drake (BP): “It’s a very high-risk game we’re playing. Perhaps we could still explore other less drastic options. Perhaps a more political, less violent solution.”

Edmond: “Look, Eric, the circumstances in 1928 was not too different to what we got today.  What we are talking about here is excessive market competition. Destructive market competition. If the OPEC people are allowed to establish a foothold in the marketing end of operations, we’re finished. They have the oil; all they need are the markets.”

David: “These decisions do not lend themselves to emotions or questions of right or wrong. THEY CONCERN THE SURVIVAL OF OUR WORLD AND WAY OF LIFE, AND INCIDENTALLY, THE HEALTH OF THIS Trust, If we are going to retain our position. I submit that we must be up to the challenges of today, even if it means employing the sternest of measures and taking a modicum of risk.”

GL: “Does there exist any other evidence of Russian connivance in this agreement the Shah has concluded?”

Exxon: “The short answer is yes. Ansari claims that the Shah was flown off in the middle of the night by helicopter and that the man who negotiated on Romania’s behalf was Alexi Kosygin himself. Now you will recall Kosygin kept a high profile when we were negotiating with the Soviets. He, with Kruschev, Suslov and Mikoyan signed the agreement we concluded in 1962, after their ploy with Mattei ended with his fatal accident and they became willing to play ball. This Romanian thing with the Shah is a clear breach of those understandings. It may well be a new Soviet pincer movement and they wouldn’t do it unless they thought the timing was right. A response, and an unmistakable one, is imperative on more than one front.”

(Note: Enrico Mattei, the head of ENI, Italy’s oil giant, had tried to buck the system and a bomb had blown up his jet outside Milan’s Linate airport. The hit was carried out by the CIA).

Edmond: “Look, we could have accomplished every one of the things we accomplished with OPEC in other ways without losing supply-side control. Now the Shah of Iran is going for our balls and here we are sitting here debating whether his assault on the marketing end of operations is or is not acceptable to us. If he is allowed to succeed you can all rest assured of one thing: every OPEC member will seek its own markets and with the discounts they can offer to acquire those markets, it will be a bush fire. They will nibble away until all that’s left is a couple of gas stations in Nevada for us to play with.”

Drake (BP): “Really Edmond, you are being rather uncharitable on the OPEC decision. Establishing OPEC has been the single most complex undertaking we have ever attempted and its success must be close to perfect. Every one of us has benefitted enormously from it. “ (Ed  note: The creation of OPEC in 1960 was masterminded by the Western oil cartel, to offset the nationalist trend in the Middle East).

Exxon: “There was no choice. We had to diversify our  more expensive sources of energy, and the OPEC option we triggered 15 years ago has just about put us in reach of our goals. Without the price increases they forced through, how could we have financed the development of these new energy fields. By 1984 or 5 it will have served its purpose.”

Drake (BP): “The only politically acceptable way of getting prices up to the required levels was to get the producers to do it. And the only way that could have happened was to get the producers to do it. And the only way that could have happened was to organize them. The perfect foreign organ which seemed to be giving us a beating.”

Edmond: “Fine it served its purpose. But it’s grown too independent now.”

David: “We have to be careful to differentiate between the desirability of dismantling OPEC and the actual mode of destabilization. The mode of execution is not something we are in a position to assess. That’s for Operations to decide.”

Exxon: “Yes, it is. And they are fully prepared. What we need to decide is whether or not the timing is right.  We have two problems. The first is the issue of the Shah’s future. The second is the issue of OPEC.  Operations will be making a presentation. It’s based on the destabilization of the moderate elements of OPEC – Saudi Arabia and Iran. My main concern is the preliminary years.  We will have to generate a major program to increase western reserves and supplies in order to ensure adequate energy levels throughout the transition period. 6m barrels of Iranian oil- that’s a hell of a loss of supply.”

GL (SHELL): “I seemed to have missed something somewhere. Why do we need to lose the Iranian production? Is the outcome that uncertain?”

Exxon: “The thinking on this is that we can set the price program ahead by a few years. If a revolution occurs and 6 m barrels of Iranian production goes off the market it would seem a natural time for a shortage to occur. That being the case, the projected prices in effect at that time are about $12. This then can be engineered upward to the $30 range. That’s when the new sources we are now so heavily committed to can be brought on-stream economically. An unfriendly new regime in Iran’s going to lead to a scramble for oil. The whole world’s going to be terrified of the Hormuz Strait being blocked, so everybody’s going to rush to stockpile. And we can help that scare program along.”

(Ed note: that was exactly what happened. On Jan 16, 1979, the day the Shah left Iran, the price of oil was $12 a barrel. Six months later it had reached $30. That’s all it took them. A 150% increase in 6 months!).

Exxon: “Gentleman, we must arrive at a complete and final solution. Without further ado, I’ m going to turn the floor over to operations.”

Operations: “The strategy for this exercise is always prepared. This is true of all potential targets as it is with Iran. Each has its own particular idiosyncrasies; each depends on timing and the course of events – past, present and projected- and at the point of execution, the strategy may or may not require refinement to accommodate the desired outcome.”

The system we use for destabilization models is Operations Research and Analytical Logic, or ORAL, as it has come to be known. We know from experience that destabilization is far less costly, in both human and material terms, and with a higher success rate, than traditional military methods. Based on our studies to date, any destabilization program for Iran must take into account the following factors:

  1. The 1973 oil price increase by OPEC led to Iranian oil revenues soaring from $5bn in fiscal 1973 to some $19bn last year, in fiscal 1974. Even with major new investments for military equipment, the economy is unable to absorb this income.
  2. Lacking the necessary infrastructure, the country’s economic program has been a fiasco. It has ignited wave after wave of socio-cultural shock. The bottom line is rampant inflation and a severe overloading of all support systems – transportation, communications, housing, etc.
  3. Dramatic public aspirations, aroused by the Shah himself when he launched his ‘Great Civilization Programme’, have now been severely disappointed. The result is complete political disaffection.
  4. The Shah himself is demoralized by the lack of progress. This has induced bouts of severe depression in the man. In short, gentleman, Iran is ripe for destabilization. Based on ORAL’s findings, the following program sets out the optimum strategy for controlled destabilization, re-grouping and establishment of a new, friendly, compliant government.
  5. The annual CIA subsidy to the mullahs – an estimated $450m a year initiated at our behest in 1953 to calm the growing unrest of the country at that time – must be halted forthwith. These CIA subsidies are obviously counter-productive to our new goals.

Several more points were discussed.

Edmond: “If matters proceed as we project, that’s when the dam bursts, and the regime begins to disintegrate.”

Exxon: “What’s the catalyst to bring things to a head? We already got the Shah to castrate just about anyone with balls. What’s left?”

Operations: “We recommend a force used often in the old days, but one that has been dormant in more modern times: the use of religion. It is easily the most effective force to mobilize and cement a revolution in Iran. The vehicle of religion lends itself well to other parts of the Middle East, if and when it becomes necessary – Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, or wherever else Islam is a force. Once Islamic fundamentalism is born, nothing can stop it. Armed might is ineffectual when faced with aspiring martyrs.”

David: “How about leadership?”

Operations: “In that context we sought the advice of our British counterparts who, because of their historical role in the Muslim Brotherhood and their widespread contacts with the clergy in Iran, are more finely tuned to Islam than we are. They have agreed with our conclusion. The movement must be led by a fundamentalist theologian with the appropriate personality, eloquence and charisma.”

 David: “Do we have one?”

Operations:  “Yes sir. The man we have selected is Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. You may recall the man. In 1963 he violently opposed the Shah’s land reforms , and orchestrated widespread protest riots which were mercilessly crushed by the Iranian army.”

Operations then passed out photos of Khomeini.

Exxon: “Mean looking bastard.”

Edmond: “This guy’s got class.”

David: “Tell me Edmond, could this be the Messiah you people have been waiting for?”

They had a good laugh about that. Operations: “He is a religious mystic—whose only motivation outside Islamic law is limited to his own personal antipathy to change in any form. His simplicity and lack of any 20th century experience makes him enormously malleable. In essence, the last person Khomeini talks to is the person who forms his attitude.”

“It is essential, therefore, that from today onwards we keep him on a very, very tight leash. We have taken the necessary steps in this direction already; several of our people, both Iranian and others, have moved to his home in Iraq. Their instructions are to provide him with organization. Khomeini himself, however, is only an instrument, and then on a short-term basis. Options for the long-term government of Iran have been purposely kept open.  Which leads to the Shah himself…”

A detailed profile of the Shah was read out.  Then the matter moved over to discuss the main coordinator for this entire programme. HIS NAME BELL.

Operations: “Col Bell’s background in this area goes back 25 years – to the birth of the CIA and before. He’s occupied pivotal positions within the intelligence community; CIA agent, planner, plotter, spy-maker, military intelligence, Vietnam, etc.; and finally the co-ordination of the entire covert activity of the nation. He is intricately aware of the workings of government in London, Paris, and Tehran. And many of those in positions of power and influence owe much to Bell. He can persuade the reticent, and finally, he has a healthy element of the brute in him which could be useful in the more delicate moments of the operation.”

Operations: “To break down the Iranian security and armed forces, we have elicited the assistance of the top man the army has assigned to Iran – the deputy chief of NATO, General Robert Huyser.”

And the tape runs out. Shocking! But wait. There is more, in the next issue.

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