• It’s still the oil
    December 16,2013

    It’s still the oil

    In a recent column in The Times Argus, Haviland Smith, a former CIA station chief in the middle East, informed us how Iranian students held American embassy employees hostage for 444 days in 1979. The article included a 1979 photo with a blindfolded American. What he did not tell us was that in 1953 the CIA deposed the democratically elected popular Iranian Prime Minister Dr. Mossadegh ,whom Time had designated Man of the Year just the year before. The CIA then installed Mohammad Shah Pahlavi whose CIA-trained SAVAK (secret police) proceeded to torture, terrorize, and kill Iranians over the next 26 years until Shah Palavi was driven from office in 1979. Mossadegh’s crime had been in thinking that a reasonable portion of the Iranian oil profits belonged to the Iranian people and it should be used on their behalf. In particular he took the view that Iran’s oil should not be unreasonably dominated by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) that later became British Petroleum (BP).

    Smith reported that a succession of American presidents imposed sanctions against Iran. (Sanctions are themselves a coercive action.) Smith said, “The Ayatollahs have responded in every way possible to make our lives increasingly unpleasant by supporting terrorism in the Middle East.” I don’t know what the Ayatollahs have done to make life “unpleasant.” Perhaps he could be more specific. Did they (as the CIA did) send drones to kill teenagers in a café in Yemen? Did they drone a grandmother collecting okra in front of her grandchildren? Perhaps they droned an entire village or a wedding party? Or perhaps the Ayatollahs trained, armed, and equipped (Shiite) death squads in order to create a sectarian civil war in Iraq as the United States did?

    What most concerns me is that our own government with its covert activities of spreading death and destruction using drones, secret prisons, torture, assassinations, search and seizure tactics throughout the Middle East, thereby is actually expanding (not diminishing) the ranks of those who would hate us and may become willing to commit acts of terrorism.

    I agree with Smith that the issues in the Middle East are complicated, and I also support diplomacy with Iran regarding nuclear issues. However, in my view, much of the complications in the Middle East stem from U.S. involvement in that area of the world evidently because, as in 1953, our control of their oil remains the underlying issue.

    William Rice

    Randolph Center

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