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Category 2

The Differences and Similarities of the July 15, 2016 Coup Attempt in Turkey and World History (occupation, terror, risk of civil war, etc.)

The Same Old Game: The Role Of The Energy Politics In Coups

Rahmi KOPAR

Key words: Iran 1953, coup, July 15, energy politics, Turkey

It was in the early morning hours of Aug. 19, 1953 that thousands of men armed with knives and clubs congregated in the main squares of south Tehran and started walking down toward the heart of the capital and Mohammad Mosaddegh’s house1 with the common purpose to overthrow him, the then democratically elected prime minister of Iran who had come to power riding a wave of nationalization of Iranian oil. He had led the nationalization movement with the aim to take back oil from British oil companies and deliver the benefits from it to the Iranian people. He believed that foreign intervention was the cause of all trouble in Iran.2 After the success of this movement and the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), which is known today as BP, Time magazine named Mosaddegh man of the year in 1951 with his picture on the cover page with the caption: “He oiled the wheels of chaos.” It would take 60 years after 1953 for the CIA to officially publish the relevant documents that show that the U.S. and British secret services were the ones who were oiling the wheels of chaos back then.

Mosaddegh was considered the most crucial hurdle for the British3 in terms of them protecting their interests in Iran. After all, they were enjoying a “fantastically lucrative monopoly on the production and sale of Iranian oil.”4 The nationalization of the most profitable British company turned Mosaddegh into a national hero in the eyes of the Iranian people5 and granted him the support of the majority of Iranians.6 It would take only 28 months for Mosaddegh to go from being praised as a national hero to being overthrown in a coup.

Donald Wilber, who played an active role in planning the coup, authored a history of the coup for the CIA’s records. In this report, he notes that the coup plan called TPAJAX was drafted by CIA and British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) officers7 and later approved by then U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.8 According to the plan, initially “CIA and SIS propaganda assets were to conduct an increasingly intensified propaganda effort through press, handbills, and the Tehran clergy”9 in order to weaken Mosaddegh. Wilber called this a “war of nerves”.10 In accordance with the plan, the CIA planted several articles in major American newspapers to create the required psychological atmosphere in Iran to topple Mosaddegh.11 Wilber himself forged numerous documents about Mosaddegh to show that he was anti-religious, corrupted by power and had wicked advisors around him.12 The propaganda was in full swing under the roof of Iran’s Parliament, too, and some deputies were describing Mosaddeqh as “worse than Hitler”.13 Simultaneously, CIA and MI6 officers were seeking support from key military officers and opposition figures.14 Following the propaganda push, high-ranking U.S. officials were to make statements against Mosaddegh to reinforce the effect.15 The last phase of the plan was to mobilize the streets against Mosaddegh, which was again conducted through CIA’s Iran Station16 using the $1 million that was made available to it by the CIA director.17

If we turn back to Aug. 19, 1953, there was nothing left for Mosaddegh to do. It was the very last stage of the plan and the next step was the military intervention. Those who were looting houses and government buildings on their way enjoyed the protection of police and military personnel.18 By 7 p.m. that day, insurgents accompanied by military tanks entered Mosaddegh’s house and plundered everything.19 Operation TPAJAX was successful, Mosaddegh was overthrown and replaced with Shah Reza Pahlavi. Within less than a year, the oil industry was denationalized, a new international consortium was formed and the Iranian oil industry was handed to this consortium mainly managed by BP and five major U.S. oil companies.20

The story of the Iranian coup has been told. After nearly 63 years, on July 15, 2016, another coup attempt unfolded, this time in Turkey. Turkey does not have vast natural resources like Iran and cannot directly affect the interests of major oil companies. However, it has the potential to influence world energy politics thanks to its geographical position. Within the last few years, Turkey has taken crucial steps to ensure its energy supply by giving weight to domestic production and diversifying energy sources. Also, Turkey has changed its mind-set in the past years and started to take an active role in the region to increase its influence. Some of the steps taken within this context include signing agreements with Russia and Japan to build two nuclear power plants in Turkey, taking part in the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project to carry Azerbaijani gas to Europe through Turkey, signing an intergovernmental agreement with Russia to build of Turkish Stream gas pipeline, maintaining energy diplomacy on Mediterranean gas fields that directly involve Israel, Egypt, Greek Cyprus, and Greece as stakeholders, shipping oil form northern Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) oil through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline to the Ceyhan port in Turkey and then to international markets and building a pipeline to transport natural gas from Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey.

As is seen from all these developments, Turkey has been proactively pursuing its desire to be an energy hub. As such, its energy diplomacy has advanced and its capacity to adapt to changes has enhanced. In a time when Turkey was preparing to leap forward in terms of its energy policy, the coup attempt reared its ugly head. Although it is not possible to single out one triggering event like what happened in Iran, it is safe to say that the accumulation of all these steps played a role as a contributing factor to the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey. Once the decision to overthrow the government was made, predefined propaganda tools were put in place as was done in Iran prior to the actual military interference. The propaganda process, the tools used and the discourse employed were remarkably almost identical to what was done in Iran. Of course, the perpetrators of the July 15 coup attempt had a wide range of motives, but energy politics also loomed large among them and should not be overlooked. Most of the political instabilities in this region find their roots in energy issues. It was Iran 63 years ago, Iraq 14 years ago, Egypt four years ago, and lastly Turkey on July 15, 2016. Some of them more, some of them less, but still, they all had energy politics somewhere on the road leading to the instability.

To conclude, it should be made clear that this article does not suggest that energy politics was the main driver behind the coup attempt. Rather, it argues that energy politics was one of the major contributing factors that is often overlooked. Moreover, the article does not try to assert that intelligence services orchestrated the July 15 coup attempt since there is no tangible data for us to draw this conclusion from an academic point of view. However, it is safe to draw a line between the 1953 Iranian coup and Turkey’s July 15 coup attempt with respect to the propaganda methods used and other actions taken in paving the way for the coup attempt.

References:
Abrahamian, Ervand. 1953, the Cia, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations. Kindle ed. New York: The New Press, 2013.
De Bellaigue, Christopher. Patriot of Persia: Muhammad Mossadegh and a Tragic Anglo-American Coup. Kindle ed.: Harper Collins, 2012.
Ebrahimi, Mansoureh. The British Role in Iranian Domestic Politics (1951-1953). Springer, 2016.
Ebrahimi, Mansoureh, and Kamaruzaman Yusoff. “The Aftermath of Coup D’etat against Mohammad Mosaddeq of Iran in 1953: Reflections from British Documents.” Tawarikh: International Journal for Historical Studies 2, no. 2 (2011).
Erkan, Suleyman. “The Story of a Dramatic Coup: Overthrowing of the Mossadegh Government in Iran in 1953.” Eurasian Academy of Sciences-Social Sciences Journal 6 (2015).
Gasiorowski, Mark J. C. “The 1953 Coup D’etat in Iran.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 19, no. 3 (1987): 261-86.
Kinzer, Stephen. All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2003.
Rahnema, Ali. Behind the 1953 Coup in Iran: Thugs, Turncoats, Soldiers, and Spooks. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Wilber, Donald W. “Clandestine Service History: Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran.” In CS Historical Paper No.208: Central Intelligence Agency, 1954.

Footnotes:
1. Ali Rahnema, Behind the 1953 Coup in Iran: Thugs, Turncoats, Soldiers, and Spooks, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015, 175-77.
2. Stephen Kinzer, All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2003, 104.
3. Mansoureh Ebrahimi and Kamaruzaman Yusoff, “The Aftermath of Coup D’etat against Mohammad Mosaddeq of Iran in 1953: Reflections from British Documents,” Tawarikh: International Journal for Historical Studies 2, no. 2, 2011: 203.no. 2 (2011
4. Kinzer, All the Shah’s Men, 2.
5. Ibid.
6. Mansoureh Ebrahimi, The British Role in Iranian Domestic Politics (1951-1953), Springer, 2016. 32.
7. Donald W. Wilber, “Clandestine Service History: Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran,” in CS Historical Paper No. 208, Central Intelligence Agency, 1954, Summary, iv.1954
8. Ibid., Summary, vi.
9. Ibid., Summary, vii.
10. Ibid., Summary, x.
11. Ibid.
12. Ervand Abrahamian, 1953, the Cia, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations, Kindle ed. New York: The New Press, 2013, Chapter 3.
13. Ibid.
14. Mark J. C. Gasiorowski, “The 1953 Coup D’etat in Iran,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 19, no. 3, 1987: 272.
15. Wilber, “Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran,” Summary, vii.
16. Ibid., Summary, xii.
17. Ibid., 3.
18. Rahnema, Behind the 1953 Coup in Iran, 180.
19. Ibid., 233.
20. Christopher De Bellaigue, Patriot of Persia: Muhammad Mossadegh and a Tragic Anglo-American Coup, Kindle ed., Harper Collins, 2012; Ebrahimi and Yusoff, “The Aftermath of Coup D’etat against Mohammad Mosaddeq,” 212; Suleyman Erkan, “The Story of a Dramatic Coup: Overthrowing of the Mossadegh Government in Iran in 1953,” Eurasian Academy of Sciences-Social Sciences Journal 6, 2015: 177.

Category 2

The Differences and Similarities of the July 15, 2016 Coup Attempt in Turkey and World History (occupation, terror, risk of civil war, etc.)

1. Rahmi KOPAR

The Same Old Game: The Role Of The Energy Politics In Coups

2. Mustafa Al MUKDAD

Turkish Coup Attempt And Global Coups

3. Abdurrahman GÜMÜŞ

To Be Or Not To Be: The July 15 Coup Attempt In Turkey