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Tue, 21 Mar 2023 07:01
Iran elects a new prime minister, one promising to reclaim the country’s oil industry. Sensing a threat to Western power, the U.K. and the U.S. launch a secret operation.
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Hey, prime members, you can binge all three episodes of American Scandal, America's coup in Iran, add free on Amazon Music, download the app today. It's August 19th, 1953 in Tehran. It's mid-afternoon in the capital city of Iran in a section of downtown that's normally bustling with commerce. Most days there are families out walking in the town squares, children playing in the shadows of tall stone buildings, vendors hawking their goods on the sidewalk, and friends gathering at cafes for a late lunch. But today Tehran is anything but the portrait of a settled metropolis. In every direction, buildings are on fire. The streets are littered with glass from shattered storefronts, and as groups of men storm through the streets, they chant in a frenzied chorus their voices competing with the sound of scattered gunshots. Watching the chaos unfold from the passenger seat of a Buick is a well-dressed American man in his thirties. In Iran, he's known as James Lockridge. But that's an alias. His real name is Kermit Roosevelt Jr. He's the grandson of former President Teddy Roosevelt and a distant cousin of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Unlike those famous family members, Kermit Roosevelt has dedicated himself to a life of public service. He believes in the American way and spends his days fighting to advance American values across the world. But unlike his famous grandfather and distant cousin, Roosevelt has avoided electoral politics. He's taken up his work in a much less visible pocket of the American government. Roosevelt is a spy working for the CIA. And he's come to Iran to lead a top secret mission, one that promises to change the balance of power in the Middle East. The plan is known as Operation Ajax. It's a complicated mission involving oil, money, and international alliances. But in the end, it's anchored in a very simple goal. Roosevelt and his allies are trying to execute a coup and oust the current prime minister of Iran. The mission has had its ups and downs, and at times it seemed like it was doomed to fail. But today, as Roosevelt drives through the chaos of downtown Tehran, he can see the fruits of his labor. The country is falling apart. There's going to be a vacuum of power in the Iranian political machine. And it won't be long before Roosevelt and his allies lead the charge, installing a new regime in Iran. Roosevelt comes to a stop in front of the US Embassy and steps out of the car. He walks up a staircase and enters the embassy. He then heads down a hallway leading to the basement. He opens a nondescript door, and when he steps inside, he finds a room full of CIA agents, all standing around, drinking champagne. The room has the atmosphere of a party, and Roosevelt loosens his tie, finally feeling ready to kick back and let himself enjoy the moment. The mission is all but complete. The Americans seem to have gotten rid of Muhammad Mosadek, Iran's prime minister. But as he walks over to grab a drink, Roosevelt notices one of his fellow agents sitting in the corner looking glum. Roosevelt grabs a bottle of champagne and two glasses, heading over to see what's wrong. Hey, can I pour you a drink? No thanks Roosevelt. Alright, suit yourself. Roosevelt grabs a seat and fills his glass. But do you want to tell me why you're looking down? No, I'm fine. You're not fine. What's wrong? Well, nothing's wrong, per se. I mean, we're celebrating like we've already won. We have won. Mosadek's still prime minister, but that's just for now. The walls are closing in. It shouldn't be long. Well, I wish I shared your optimism. I thought we had him a few days ago, but he's managed to hold us off. Now, this time we'll be different. You don't know that. And if this operation collapses, Kruschev and the Soviets, they're going to storm right in. We're going to lose this whole country. Maybe even the whole region. Now, look, you don't have to lecture me on the stakes of this mission. I was one of its architects, and it's understood that there are real consequences here. We're not going to let the communists take over. That's why we intervened in the first place. So you have to have a little faith. Loose enough. Here. Roosevelt pours a second glass of champagne and holds it out. Take the glass and let's celebrate. We pulled this off. It's over. What's the dead is gone. The agent still looks hesitant, but finally he relents and takes the glass of champagne. The two men then make their way back to the party. As the agents stand around drinking and toasting to the mission, Roosevelt has hit with a feeling of pride. The U.S. has never before overthrown the leader of a democratic government. Consequences of failure were immense. But Roosevelt was never one to be timid. As far as he saw it, this mission was a risk they had to take, and the only way to protect American values in the Middle East. So while at times Operation Ajax did seem shaky, Roosevelt believes they can now let down their guard. Unless something goes terribly wrong, by tomorrow morning, Iran will have a new prime minister, and America will have a strong relationship in the Middle East that should last for decades. The American scandal is sponsored by New York Times All Access. For the best in news, analysis, and culture, there's only one New York Times. And now you can enjoy Times-level expertise in the areas of games, cooking, product reviews and sports, with the New York Times All Access subscription. In addition to original reporting from journalists worldwide, you can unwind with spelling bee. My favorite wordl, The New York Times Crossword and more. Enjoy delicious recipes and daily inspiration from cooking experts, or explore independent reviews for thousands of products in wire cutter. You'll also discover in-depth personalized sports journalism from the athletic. Get all of this and more with New York Times All Access. Everything the Times offers all in one subscription. To subscribe, go to nytimes.com slash all access. American scandal is sponsored by Dell Technologies, whose semi-annual sale is on with limited quantity deals on top tech. Save on select PCs powered by the latest 12th gen Intel Core processors, like thin and light XPS 13 laptops, in-sprone laptops and 2-in-1s. Plus get savings on select accessories, free shipping, and monthly payment options with Dell preferred account. Save today by calling 877-Ask Dell. That's 877-Ask Dell. From Monday, I'm Lindsey Graham, and this is American's Can. America's political leaders have long celebrated the ideals of democracy. The men and women we've elected to lead our nation often make the case that democracy is a central pillar of freedom in the highest aspiration for people around the world. But at times, our leaders have fallen short of their own stated ideals. They've taken measures to undermine democratic governments around the world, and even orchestrated coups that have transferred power to authoritarian regimes. In 1953, America set in motion one of these campaigns in the Middle East. A popular politician named Mohamed Mosadeg had risen to power in Iran. The country's democratic parliament elected Mosadeg to serve as Iran's prime minister. And while he was largely focused on strengthening Iran's democratic institutions, Mosadeg also took keen interest in the issue of oil. Iran had a vast supply, but for decades Britain had controlled the oil industry in the country. It was a lucrative business, with outsized profits that helped England maintain its status as a world power. But many in Iran believe the arrangement was unfair. That Britain was not giving the Iranian people their fair share of the profits. And with Mosadeg now in power as Iran's prime minister, sweeping change appeared to becoming. Mosadeg sought to nationalize his country's oil industry, stripping Britain of its monopoly, and allowing Iran to reap the profits of its own natural resources. The prospect rattled the British. And soon England turned to the United States with a plan, a mission to remove Mosadeg from power and install a new leader more friendly to Western interests. This is episode 1, The Nationalist. It's October 1949, four years before America launched a coup in Iran. It's a windy fall day in Tehran, and out on the streets of Iran's capital, a large crowd is marching toward the country's royal palace. There are thousands of people. Many of them are raising their fists and yelling out that they are tired of political corruption and hungry for change. At the front of the crowd is an older man, thin and balding. He doesn't cut the most formidable figure, but with his vision for Iran's future, Muhammad Mosadeg has earned a large following, including this mass of protesters who have gathered for his march on the royal palace. Mosadeg is an Iranian politician and came of age during one of the most important moments in the country's history, a period in the early 1900s, now known as the Constitutional Revolution. For centuries, Iran had been ruled by kings known as Shahs. These monarchs exercised absolute power and were often prone to vice and corruption. But by the early 20th century, the Iranian people began to demand change. Mosadeg was a young man at the time, and he watched Ostruck as a political movement took shape and quickly transformed Iran into a democracy. The country went on to adopt a written constitution. Citizens would get to vote in national elections and choose their leaders. There was even the guarantee that Iran would have a free press. Still Mosadeg always knew that his country's government was a work in progress. In large part, it had to do with the way power had been divided after Iran became a democracy. Even with a constitution, the elected parliament still shared some of its powers with the Shah. It was an arrangement that might have been tenable, except that the current monarch, a 29-year-old named Muhammad Reza Shah, has begun to undermine the foundations of Iran's democracy. He's been parceling out bribes and even committing fraud, all of the means to tilt the scales in Iran's democratic elections. It's not hard to make sense of the Shah's motivations. He's received backing from the British government, and to repay his debt, the Shah is trying to secure victories for members of parliament who are more friendly to the British. Mosadeg cannot stand this kind of corruption, so he released a statement calling on his fellow citizens to join him in a protest, descending on the Shah's marble palace. Once there, they wouldn't leave until the Shah agreed to their principal demand that Iran have new elections, free of any interference from the monarch. Mosadeg and his crowd of supporters reached the gates of the royal palace. Mosadeg won't deny he's feeling nervous, but he's hoping the Shah will see the light and agree to sit down for a meeting, instead of ordering his guards to open fire. As Mosadeg stands surveying the palace, the gates swing open, and one of the Shah's aids comes hurrying forward. Mosadeg, what are you trying to accomplish coming here with a crowd like this? What we are trying to do is get the Shah to listen. The Shah listens to reason. He doesn't engage with threats. A peaceful demonstration is not a threat. Mosadeg, you brought a mob. Now tell me, what do you want? We want to present our demands to the Shah, and we want promises he'll take action. We all know your demands, free and fair elections. You say over and over. The Shah maintains the elections were held with the utmost integrity. They were free and fair. Let's drop the pretence. We all know what happened. Mosadeg, whatever you think, just know that the Shah is more than willing to investigate any claims of fraud. But he's also certain no one's going to find any evidence of foul play. You expect me to believe that. The Shah interfered with the democratic process. He's madly with both hands, one for him and the other for England. Well, now you're making it sound like a big conspiracy. It's not a conspiracy. It's self-interest. The Shah is trying to hold on to power, and the British are trying to hold on to our oil. But it is our oil, and we will renegotiate with the British. The Shah cannot undermine this democratic process, installing his lackeys in parliament. The Shah installed no one. Those were free and fair elections. And many of us believe the British have been more than accommodating. Mosadeg shakes his head. We can't believe these bald face lies, schools and hospitals. The British said they would build schools and hospitals, but they have not. And while Iranian oil is funding the British Royal Navy, our country is living in poverty. We barely get a fraction of the profits. Is that fair? Is that accommodating? Mosadeg, I'm not going to argue about trade agreements here when you've assembled a mob. What can we do to end this before things take a violent turn? Give us an audience with the Shah. No, you're not getting inside the palace. And we will stay here for as long as it takes. The Shah's aid looks conflicted. Mosadeg knows the Shah could just order his guards to start firing on the crowd and end this protest with a bloody massacre. But the Shah's associate takes a different approach. He tells Mosadeg that the entire crowd cannot come in, but the Shah is willing to discuss the matter with a small delegation. Mosadeg nods. This is all he needed to hear. The Shah is willing to negotiate. So as the aid heads back inside the palace, Mosadeg feels a glimmer of hope. Still even with this first step, Mosadeg knows he and his supporters are going to have to do more. It's going to take a lot of organizing. They'll have to build a coherent movement if they want to protect Iran's democracy and do something about the British and the control of Iran's oil. It's April 1951, about a year and a half later. Muhammad Mosadeg straightens his suit jacket as he steps into Iran's parliament building in Tehran. In the legislative chamber, Mosadeg's fellow members of parliament are huddled together, whispering nervously. Political aides race across the room, delivering handwritten notes. The chamber is buzzing with a frenetic energy, but when Mosadeg enters and begins making his way into the heart of the room, the other legislators suddenly grow silent, stopping and staring, waiting to see what Mosadeg is about to do. It's only been about a year and a half since Mosadeg led a march on the Shah's palace. But in the time since, he's gone on to become one of the most powerful politicians in Iran. Mosadeg helped found a political party known as the National Front. It's made up of unions and a wide range of civic groups, and the party has been pushing to make Iran a more resilient democracy, one less beholden to foreign powers. Indeed, the National Front has grown incredibly popular, and Mosadeg isn't surprised. Voters are invested in these issues. But the public does seem especially drawn to one of the party's top priorities, nationalizing Iran's oil industry and reclaiming the wealth that Britain has been siphoning from them for years. And in a few minutes, the members of parliament are going to vote to select Iran's next prime minister. Whoever wins the votes will be able to push their agenda, ambitious proposals that could reshape the country, including the way Iran deals with oil. But one of the leading candidates is favored by the Shah, and if he wins, he could stall the political agenda that Mosadeg is trying to advance. So Mosadeg came up with a plan. It's unconventional and could possibly backfire. But if he pulls it off, Mosadeg himself could emerge as the next leader of Iran's government. So as Mosadeg takes his seat, the parliament's speaker opens the floor for debate. Mosadeg scans the room, seeing who's going to take the first swing. And in no real surprise, it is one of the confidants of the Shah who steps up to the podium and says he'd like to speak. Jamal Imami is a tall and muscular man, and as an ally of the Shah, he's one of Mosadeg's fiercest political opponents. As Imami leans into the microphone, he announces that he's not here to sing the praises of the Shah's candidate for Prime Minister. Instead, Imami wants to say a few words about Muhammad Mosadeg. Mosadeg watches as dozens of members of parliament turn in his direction. He knows his opponents are looking to get a rise out of him, trying to paint him as a radical revolutionary. But Mosadeg knows how to hold back his emotions. He won't be riled up by political mud slaying. But Imami's speech quickly turns bitter. As the politician accuses Mosadeg of stirring up trouble for the country, all in the supposed name of democracy. And as he reaches his climax, Imami says that a coward like Mosadeg should try to do something more useful with his time, maybe take on a real challenge, like trying to be Prime Minister. Imami smirks. But Mosadeg leans forward with a smile of his own. This is the moment he's been waiting for, an opening. Mosadeg rises and addresses the legislative chamber, announcing he's honored by the suggestion, and he accepts Imami's nomination to be Prime Minister of Iran. All at once the auditorium erupts in deafening chatter. This was the gambit. A move designed to surprise the members of parliament and force the legislators into an unexpected vote. Soon the parliament speaker returns to the podium and announces he's putting forth a motion. Parliament is right now going to decide whether Mosadeg should be selected as Iran's new Prime Minister. A flurry of activity ripples through the chamber as legislators begin the process of taking a vote. And when everything is tallied, there's no mistaking the winner. Mosadeg has secured 79 votes in favor. Only 12 people voted against him. And while no one could have predicted it, Muhammad Mosadeg has just emerged as the next political leader of Iran. Parliament continues to buzz with excited chatter. So Mosadeg rises from his seat and announces loudly cutting through the noise that his first and most important order of business is taking back Iran's oil from Great Britain. Its December 3, 1952 in Washington, D.C. In a private room in the headquarters of the State Department, H Freeman Matthews takes a seat alongside a group of American and British officials. News is the deputy undersecretary of state, one of the top American officials working on foreign policy. And at the table, he's joined by two other high ranking members of the State Department, as well as their counterparts from the United Kingdom. As the group settles in, they begin with some of the usual chit chat. But soon the British ambassadors drop the pleasantries and announce they'd like to talk about Iran. The UK is ready to take action to address the growing crisis with new Prime Minister Muhammad Mosadeg. Matthews nods, playing the part of gentile American diplomat. But he already knows what the British ambassadors are about to pitch. Matthews has no interest in their plan. Iran's Prime Minister Muhammad Mosadeg has seized control of his country's oil industry, stripping Britain of its monopoly, along with the outsized profits the country has come to depend on. Britain tried to counter and find some way to settle the situation without completely giving up their share of Iran's oil. But Mosadeg wasn't willing to budge, so British officials took a more aggressive approach. British agents began hatching a plot to overthrow Mosadeg and install a new leader in Iran. But Mosadeg caught wind of the plan and took swift action. The Prime Minister shut down Britain's embassy and kicked out every British diplomat stationed in his country. It was a stunning turn of events, but still the British did not give up. Their diplomats reached out to officials in the American State Department and raised the possibility of another attempt at a coup, this time with America playing a part. When Matthews learned about all this, he was immediately skeptical. One of his advisors noted that even if the coup were successful, it risked alienating the mass of Iranian people and other peoples of the Near East and southern Asia. Matthews was warned the plot could be exposed, and that in the long run, pulling off a coup in Iran could hurt America's relations around the world. That was all Matthews needed to hear. The Deputy Under Secretary of State has worked in foreign policy for a long time, and he knows a bad idea when he sees one. So as he sits listening to the British diplomats make another case for a coup in Iran, Matthews begins to push back, asking why such a risky mission could possibly be an America's interest. The British ambassador though says it has to do with the Soviets. Masadek is unlikely to do anything effective to counter the growing tide of communism in Iran, and there's a good chance the communist could soon take over. Matthews nods. He knows that for the British this is about oil, but they want America's support so they are trying to reposition the issue, to make it resonate with the United States. But Matthews and his fellow officials reiterate the American view that Masadek is an anti-communist, despite his rhetoric about spreading the well from Iranian oil. And even if the mission were in America's interest, Matthews wants to know how the British can guarantee it will be a success. The two British diplomats remain silent for a moment. Then one of them offers a vague answer, acknowledging the scheme does have some elements of uncertainty and danger. Matthew says he appreciates the candor. And while they're not dismissing the possibility of a coup, America does still want to find a diplomatic solution. And in any case, these are the waning days of the Truman presidency. In a few weeks, America will have a new president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. And so the State Department is going to have to wait before committing to any big operations. The British diplomats seem to get the message. US officials aren't going to commit to a coup in Iran. But as the men stand and shake hands, Matthews gets the sense that this isn't the end of the story. There is a new administration arriving in Washington. And with so much money on the line, the British aren't going to give up. They'll make their case again to Dwight D. Eisenhower. And Matthews guess is that if they play their cards right, British and American agents will soon descend on Tehran, for an operation that could reshape the Middle East. American scandal is sponsored by Audible. One of my wife's more curious habits is to suddenly gasp aloud, or giggle, or gaffal, or groan. And every time I look over concerned, but there's nothing. She's just chopping vegetables in a moating out loud because she's really invested in the book she's listening to, completely immersed. 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You point out a constellation in the night sky. You see the road sign up ahead. You find your friend in a crowd. You are an expert observer, able to skillfully locate pinpoint and identify. But are you a detective? Find out with June's Journey, the hidden object game that has you searching for clues needed to solve mystery after mystery. Pull back in time to the roaring 20s and even trek across the globe to follow your next lead through more than a thousand scenes full of hidden clues only expert observers like you can find. And with new chapters every week, there's always a case waiting to be cracked. Plus chat and play with or against other players. Join contests for exclusive in-game items, add-ons, and prizes. So do what I do whenever I've got a bit of free time. Put your perception and awareness to the test. And your first clue by downloading June's Journey today, available on Android or iOS mobile devices, as well as on PC through Facebook games. It's January 1953 in Washington, D.C. Inside the headquarters of the CIA, Kermit Roosevelt hurries down a marble hallway. Pale, winter light shines in through the windows. And as Roosevelt rounds a corner, he passes by a gaggle of foreign policy types, men with straight backs and thick plastic rim glasses. Roosevelt doesn't know what to make of these career civil servants. They're supposedly his people, but he's never felt at home in the confines of Washington, so far away from the real action. He's only in his 30s, but Roosevelt has already risen to be the chief of the CIA's near-east and Asia division. He was educated at Harvard, and he's known as a soft-spoken intellectual. But like his grandfather, former president Teddy Roosevelt, Kermit Roosevelt has always been driven by a spirit of adventure. And nothing has been more exciting than his work as a professional spy. Roosevelt began his career with the OSS, the predecessor to the modern CIA. And he's managed to work his way up, becoming one of the country's foremost experts in clandestine operations. So it was no real surprise when Roosevelt was handed an assignment involving Iran and a risky covert mission. Roosevelt is supposed to lead a group of agents and execute a coup to overthrow Iran's prime minister, Muhammad Musadek. It's an unusual time to consider an operation of such high stakes. These are the last few days of Harry S. Truman's presidency. But Roosevelt's boss was insistent on moving forward. But he needs a little more information about the plan first, along with assurances that what they're doing isn't breaking the law. Roosevelt arrives at the office of Walter Beetle Smith, the head of the CIA, and knocks on the door. Roosevelt steps into the office where he finds Smith sitting behind a desk, chewing on a pen. Sir, you want the door open, closed? Well, what do you think Roosevelt shut it tight? We've got issues to talk about. Roosevelt closes the door and takes the seat across from the CIA director. So Roosevelt, give me an update. How goes the planning with Iran? That's coming around, but what's the latest with Truman? What the hell does Truman have to do with anything? Well, sir, he's still commander in chief. Roosevelt, he's only going to be in the Oval Office another week, and he's gone. But an operation like this, sir, needs presidential sign-off. Smith shoots Roosevelt to condescending look. You know, there's a lot that happens in American government without official sign-off, and there are people above me that don't want this operation to go forward. But I agree with British intelligence. Mosadek is going to align himself with Soviets, and that would be a serious problem for America. We can't sit on the sidelines. Well, sir, I certainly have no love for Muhammad Mosadek, but if you want me running this operation, we need to do the right thing and get the president's authorization. Roosevelt, the right thing is to pull up your socks and get going. The British say this operation needs to kick off by the end of the month. We can't wait. But sir, no but sir, in just a few days we're going to have a new president, Ike Eisenhower, and I know the man. I was his chief of staff during the war. Promise you, Eisenhower is going to support our work in Iran. Weed to start the operation now, so unless you want to step aside and take a new job, I urge you. Stop asking about presidential authorization. Roosevelt doesn't like being in this position. What he also recognizes that the mission is going to go forward with him or without him. The Roosevelt nods. You'll get the operation moving. Later that month, a dark haired Iranian man is lying in bed, fast asleep, when he's jolted awake by an urgent knocking on his front door. Faslola Zahedi opens his eyes. He has no idea what time it is, and he wasn't expecting anyone. So Zahedi reaches over to his bedside drawer and pulls out a pistol. And when there's another knock on the door, Zahedi begins moving quietly through his bedroom, trying to get a look at his visitor through one of the windows. Zahedi is not being paranoid. He's a retired military officer and politician, and he's vocal in support of the Shah. But these days in Iran, having those kind of allegiances is a dangerous proposition. And from his experience, politics can be a deadly game. During World War II, Zahedi was in charge of a military garrison, and in an effort to bolster Iran's position, he enlisted the help of the Germans. But the United Kingdom was not happy Zahedi had formed an alliance with the Nazis. They kidnapped him, and imprisoned Zahedi in a British internment camp for the remainder of the war. Zahedi managed to get out of that camp and resume a normal life. He went on to become the chief of police in Tehran, and even commenced Muhammad Mosadek to appoint him interior minister. But he lost that position after ordering the massacre of a group of protesters. Zahedi believed his action was necessary to maintain law and order, but Mosadek disagreed and fired him. Since then, Zahedi has managed to stay connected to the military, and these days he oversees an organization for retired army officers. But despite pulling back from public life, Zahedi still has powerful enemies. People he knows wouldn't hesitate to take his life to settle some political dispute. So as he creeps toward the front door, Zahedi cocks his pistol. He grabs the door knob and yanks it open. Standing there startled is a balding white man with a mustache. Zahedi barks out at the man, demanding to know who he is and what he's doing here in the middle of the night. The man steps back, looking terrified. And his voice shaking, he says he's an American. Here on behalf of his country's ambassador, Zahedi just stares at the man. So the American sputters on, saying he's heard rumors Zahedi is unhappy with the status quo in Iran. People have said that he's not a fan of Muhammad Mosadek. Zahedi narrows his eyes, still suspicious of this visitor. So the American continues, saying his country is afraid Muhammad Mosadek is getting too cozy with communists. Back in Washington, some believe he should be removed from power. And so they are reaching out to see if Zahedi has any interest in getting involved. Zahedi tries to size up this doughy American. Of course he'd love to see Mosadek ousted from power. He believes the Shah should rule the country, with a strong hand maintaining law and order. But this, a midnight visit from a startled American, going on about a coup. The man acknowledges the unusual nature of his visit. But he repeats that for the United States this is about communism. Washington does not want to see the Soviets gain the upper hand in the Middle East. And if Mosadek stays in power, that scenario seems likely. But if someone else were in power, someone the US could trust, the Americans could rest more easily at night. The man then pauses and says that the Americans believes Zahedi might be that man, the next prime minister of Iran. Zahedi grows flushed with possibility. Previously he could only dream of being prime minister, but he knows the Americans have the power to make it happen. Still, it would be dangerous. If they try to oust the elected prime minister in a coup, they could be charged with the highest crimes and face the most severe punishment. But the American promises that Zahedi has nothing to worry about. The CIA will offer its protection. And no matter what happens, Zahedi will be safe and well taken care of. Zahedi smiles. The CIA is a powerful friend to have. His midnight visit might be unusual, but it's not entirely unwelcome. It's March 4, 1953 in Washington, D.C. In the basement of the White House, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles takes a seat, as he and several other high-ranking officials get ready for a meeting of the National Security Council. The NSC is a group made up of the president's top national security advisors. These officials are tasked with solving some of the most pressing issues facing America. And as far as Dulles sees it, there is no issue more important than the unfolding crisis in Iran. Dulles has been closely tracking developments in the Middle East, and based on the latest American intelligence, it appears that Iran could soon fall into the hands of communist leaders part of a broader regional shift favoring the Soviet Union. As Secretary of State, Dulles believes this realignment of power could pose a serious threat to America. During spent years advising political leaders on foreign policy, Dulles has grown convinced that communism is more than just a bad idea. It's a danger to human civilization. And America must do everything that's power to counter the Soviets' influence across the world. It was this conviction that led Dulles to begin laying the groundwork for a coup in Iran. Dulles believes that Iran's current leadership is vulnerable to a communist incursion. So he began collaborating with his brother, Alan, the director of the CIA. And along with their counterparts in the British government, the two men have been planning an operation that could remove Iran's prime minister from power and replace him with a leader who's more friendly to the West. The operation has momentum, and officials in the CIA and the State Department are ready to take the next steps. But they haven't yet gotten the buy-in from the most important man in American government, the new president Dwight D. Eisenhower. Today, Eisenhower has shown some reluctance to get involved in Britain's dispute over Iranian oil. But Dulles believes the president doesn't yet see the full picture. And if he can convince Eisenhower that Iran poses an immediate threat to American interests, Dulles should be able to get the president's authorization for the coup, the necessary final step before agents begin carrying out the mission. So today, Dulles is sitting at a conference table, along with several other cabinet members waiting for President Eisenhower. When he comes striding into the situation room, the president takes a seat and the meeting kicks off. The conversation quickly turns to Iran. Several cabinet members reiterate the concern that Iran is ripe for a communist takeover. Just days ago, there were riots in the streets of Iran, with a mob charging the House of the Prime Minister, Mohammed Mosadek. The country appears to be increasingly unstable. And if Mosadek falls, the officials say, the Communist Party in Iran could fill the power of vacuum, most likely with Soviet support. The president looks disappointed to hear this assessment. And he says he wonders how America could get some of the people in these downtrodden countries to like us instead of hating us. Dulles doesn't respond directly. He also doesn't admit the secret behind those riots in Iran's capital. They were organized with British support and funded in part by the British government. Just one step in their ongoing efforts to cripple Iran's Prime Minister Mosadek. Instead, Dulles tells the president that the riots in Tehran are a sign that America needs to take action. A communist takeover is likely. And Dulles warns that if that happens, the Soviets would secure control of Iran's valuable oil supply. The same could happen all across the Middle East, a region that houses about 60% of the world's oil reserves. But after Dulles finishes laying out his case, the president retrieves to his earlier position. He wants to avoid any boondoggle in Iran, and Eisenhower still believes there's a chance for compromise with Mosadek. The way to make sure the West retains its access to Iranian oil while safeguarding the country against the communist uprising. Dulles presses his case again. But Eisenhower ends the conversation, saying he won't commit to any action, not yet. For now, they'll monitor events on the ground. And if Iran takes a sharp turn for the worse, they can revisit the American strategy then. Dulles wants to keep arguing. He and his brother, the CIA director, have a plan that's all but ready to go. It wouldn't take long to remove Mosadek from power and install a new leader in Iran. But Dulles can tell the president has made up his mind. And unless the situation in Iran grows significantly worse, Muhammad Mosadek is going to stay in power. American scandal is sponsored by BetterHelp. I'm scheduled for a heart scan this morning, and next week, a colonoscopy. Fun stuff. 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It's the evening of April 19, 1953 in Tehran. On a dark narrow street, a man walks under the pale glow of the city streetlights, and pauses to look up at the addresses posted on a row of identical apartments. Mahmoud Afshartis knows most people would be surprised to find him skulking through the shadows alone on a Monday night. Afshartis is the head of Iran's police and the great uncle of Iran's prime minister, Muhammad Moseldek. His career is on an upward trajectory, and he's expected to soon become the leader of Iran's army. And while a man with his political power should be traveling with a large entourage, Afshartis has come here alone. It's been a bruising few months for the prime minister, with moms coming after him at his own house, and the crisis only appears to be getting worse. So when one of Moseldek's opponents reached out for a private meeting late at night, Afshartis said yes, it seemed like an opportunity to forge some peace. So now, Afshartis continues wandering through the dark street, looking up at the addresses, trying to find his destination. Soon he finds it, a small apartment that looks just like all the others on the block. Afshartis enters a dim hallway, begins climbing a staircase. It's quiet, other than the flickering of an overhead light bulb. And when he reaches the landing of the apartment he's looking for, Afshartis notices a sweet smell, almost like something you'd find in a hospital. Afshartis turns the knob and enters the apartment. But when he steps inside, he finds the unit empty. Afshartis calls out a greeting, worrying he's in the wrong place. But as he fishes out a piece of paper to check the address again, there's a creek on the wooden floor. Before he can turn around, a group of men suddenly pounce on him. Afshartis thrashes, trying to break free, but he's outnumbered. He calls out for help, but one of the men strikes him violently and orders him to stay quiet. Still Afshartis keeps yelling though, hoping someone in another apartment will hear his cries and do something. But the man strikes him again harder, with his back pressed to the ground, suddenly Afshartis notices that sweet chemical odor, but much stronger than before. When he turns his head, he sees one of the men reaching forward with a rag. The man presses it against Afshartis's face, before he can let out another cry. Afshartis feels himself growing weak. The whole world suddenly goes black. This June 14, 1953 in the White House. Alan Dulles stands outside the Oval Office, waiting for a meeting with President Eisenhower. The two are slated to talk again about Iran. And while the president still hasn't given formal authorization for a coup, Dulles believes today he could change the president's mind. Increasingly, Iran appears to be heading toward a crisis. The country's top police official, Mahmoud Afshartis, was recently murdered after being kidnapped from the apartment of one of his political enemies. It was a brutal crime, carried out in a cave outside Tehran. But it sent a clear message that the country was spiraling into a new era of chaos and lawlessness. Dulles knows the Americans have some responsibility for the murder. He himself authorized the spending of $1 million for the overthrow of Iran's Prime Minister Muhammad Muzadek. And seeing tangible proof of the Americans' commitment, the British foreign office told their assets they'd now be working with the CIA. A group of Iranian operatives apparently got the message too, and began deliberately sowing chaos, including the kidnap and murder of the country's top police official. Dulles doesn't take any pleasure in such a brazen crime. But he and his brother in the Secretary of State want to launch a full-scale operation to overthrow Iran's Prime Minister. The CIA and State Department had developed a detailed plan, and they've already committed American money. And if they're going to pull it off, they still do need authorization from the commander in chief. And that means somehow convincing Eisenhower that something needs to change in Iran. The President's Secretary gives Dulles the sign that he can head in. And as Dulles steps into the Oval Office, he finds President Eisenhower sitting behind his desk, his eyes bloodshot and glazed over. Well, Mr. President, when was the last time you got a good night's sleep? If I may say so, you look exhausted. Well, Alan, you're right. This situation in Iran loses sleep over it. Well, I understand, sir, there's a lot hanging in the balance. You and Foster have been warning about this for a while. And I was resistant, I'll admit. Well, Zadak seems like a good guy. Well, Mr. President, good guys aren't necessarily good leaders. I mean, first people start writing in the streets, then they kidnap and murder the chief of the country's police. What does that say about the future of Iran? Well, to me, it says that the government could easily collapse. And when it does, the communists would be prying for a take-home. Well, that would be the worst possible situation, wouldn't it? The Soviets taking over another country. Except this time they'd have oil and lots of it. Dulles knows that this is his chance to make his pitch. Well, Mr. President, we do have options. I don't see it. We've given support to MozaDek, what else can we do? Well, I don't think we can do anything with MozaDek in power. But Mr. President, we have the ability to offer Iran a new leader. Well, what are you talking about? Backing an opposition party? A little more than that. We don't talk to a British and we have a plan. If we pull it off, MozaDek would be gone. Eisenhower stares at the CIA director. His mouth's slightly ajar. You're suggesting it, coup. Remove a political leader elected through a democratic process. Yes, sir. But I wouldn't focus on how he came to power. And I'd like you to think about what happens if he remains in power. And if the Soviets get their way, right. So tell me, you're confident this would be successful? Mr. President, we have friends in the Iranian press and the clergy. We would lead a campaign of psychological warfare, breaking MozaDek without firing a single gun. You've got a network of assets and a cannon. Oh, fine. Okay. Look, I don't need the details. All I want to know is whether you can pull this off. Yes, sir. We can pull it off. And we will. Eisenhower pauses, grappling with a heavy decision. Well, okay, then. You've got my blessing. But don't you let me down. Dallas nods and thanks the president for his leadership. As he walked out of the Oval Office, the reality of the moment sinks in. Dallas is about to go to war with a foreign government. The CIA has never done anything like this, working to remove an elected leader. Dallas wasn't lying to the president. He does have faith his agents can pull it off. Still, that doesn't change the essential facts. The CIA is about to embark on a perilous operation. Agents could lose their lives. Iran could descend into civil war. But whatever the branching chain of events turns out to be, the U.S. now has to achieve its mission, removing Mohammed MozaDek from power and charting a new future for the Middle East. From Wondering, this is Episode 1 of America's coup in Iran from American Scam. In our next episode, Kermit Roseveld lands in Iran and begins executing the mission. But a surprise development forces the CIA to rethink its plans. Hey, prime members, you can listen to American Scandal ad-free on Amazon Music, download the Amazon Music Cap today. Or you can listen ad-free with Wondering Plus and Apple Podcasts. Before you go, tell us about yourself by completing a short survey at Wondering.com slash survey. If you'd like to learn more about Operation Ajax and the coup in Iran, we recommend the books, All the Shaw's Men by Stephen Kinzer and the coup, 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S. Iranian Relations by Airvon Abrahamion. This episode contains reenactments and dramatized details. In while in most cases, we can't know exactly what was said. While our dramatizations are based on historical research, American Scandal has hosted, edited and executed produced by me, Lindsay Graham for Airship. Audio editing by Molly Bach, sound design by Derek Barons, music by Lindsay Graham. This episode is written by Hannibal Diaz, edited by Stephen Walters. Our senior producer is Gabe Riven. Executive producers are Stephanie Jenns, Jenny Lauer Beckman, and Marshall Louis for Wondering. Meet Jill Evans. Jill's got it all, a big house, fast car, two kids in a great career, but Jill has a problem. When it comes to love, Jill can never seem to get things right. And then along comes Dean. I can't believe my luck. Whoa, I hit the jackpot. It looks like they're going to live happily ever after. But on Halloween night, things get a little gruesome. This is where the shooting happened outside a building society in New Romney. Jill's thought the 42-year-old victim was killed after he opened fire on police. And Jill's life is changed forever. From Wondering and Novel comes Stolen Hearts. A story about a cop who falls in love with a man who is not all he seems to be. Follow Stolen Hearts wherever you get your podcasts. You could binge the entire series, ad-free, on Amazon Music. Download the Amazon Music app now.