When recently visiting Iran, I saw a framed picture of Mohammed Mossadegh on the mantelshelf in the living room of a friend. In our discussions he told me that Iranians would not forget Madeleine Albright’s apology in March 2000 for the 1953 C.I.A. coup and reinstatement of the Shah. Albright, then Secretary of State in Clinton’s Administration, said:
“In 1953, the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran’s popular prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons, but the coup was clearly a setback for Iran’s political development and it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs. Moreover, during the next quarter century, the United States and the West gave sustained backing to the Shah’s regime. Although it did much to develop the country economically, the Shah’s government also brutally repressed political dissent. As President Clinton has said, the United States must bear its fair share of responsibility for the problems that have arisen in U.S.-Iranian relations.”
Very few Americans today know anything about the first C.I.A. coup ever. Even during the so-called hostage crisis of 1979 most Americans could not comprehend why Iranians were hostile to their government, despite of having supported the Shah for so many years. They did not consider the fact that it was because of that. And the disaster went on when Saddam used chemical weapons of mass destruction in the war against Iran, while America and the world public did not intervene or even mind.
The deeply messed-up relationship between the US and Iran is mainly due to these two events: the coup in 1953, which was called Operation Ajax; and the hostage crisis of 1979-1981. The two peoples do not trust each other anymore. And there are good reasons for distrust for each party. I do not think that the present, now heavily damaged, US Administration is willing or able to improve the situation with Iran. But the new Administration has to recall “the coup” and consider Iranian sensitivities, undoubtedly an influential middle power in the Middle East. Although not being very optimistic as regards to the present regime in Tehran, I suppose that it is also high time for the Iranians to eventually apologize for the hostage crisis.
Diplomacy is the art and practice of negotiations based on mutual compromise, talents especially the Iranians have developed during the millennia of their long history.