I don't know how many people are familiar with the relations between Iran and the US over the years. The relationship between the two started after WW2.
(BTW anything in brackets within quotes is my writing)
So, Iran was that close to becoming a democratic republic. So much could possibly be different today if greed and colonial ambitions didn't win out the day....Initially there were hopes that post-occupation [referring to Russian and to a lesser extent UK presence in Iran during and after WW2] Iran could become a constitutional monarchy. The new, young Shah Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi initially took a very hands-off role in government, and allowed parliament to hold a lot of power. Some elections were held in the first shaky years, although they remained mired in corruption. Parliament became chronically unstable, and from the 1947 to 1951 period Iran saw the rise and fall of six different prime ministers.
In 1951, Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, a nationalist, received the vote required from the parliament to nationalize the British-owned oil industry, in a situation known as the Abadan Crisis. Despite British pressure, including an economic blockade which caused real hardship, the nationalization continued. Mossadegh was briefly forced from power in 1952 but was quickly re-elected by an overwhelming majority, returned, and forced the Shah to flee. Mossadegh then declared a republic, but a few days later the Shah returned and again forced Mossadegh from office on August 19 with illegal U.S. CIA and government support — Operation Ajax. Mossadegh was arrested and a new prime minister was appointed.
In return for the US support the Shah agreed, in 1954, to allow an international consortium of British (40%), American (40%), French (6%), and Dutch (14%) companies to run the Iranian oil facilities for the next 25 years, with profits shared equally. In other words, no control or profits went to Iran. There was a return to stability in the late 1950s and the 1960s. In 1957 martial law was ended after 16 years and Iran became closer to the West, joining the Baghdad Pact and receiving military and economic aid from the US. The Iranian government began a broad program of reforms to modernize the country, notably changing the quasi-feudal land system.
Well obviously the Shah wasn't very popular at this time, what is the best way to keep an unpopular dictator in power? That's right, a brutal secret police, with unlimited power.
interestingly enough my grandfather was offered a position at SAVAK. He turned it down on moral grounds (though I don't think that's what he told them). If there were only more people like him in the world, people that can give up the temptation of greed, power, and brutality....History
SAVAK was founded in 1957 with the assistance of the CIA and the Israeli Mossad. Its mission was to protect the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran, and control opposition, especially political opposition. Its first director was General Teymur Bakhtiar, who was replaced by General Hassan Pakravan in 1961 and later assassinated on the Shah's orders. Pakravan was replaced in 1965 by General Nematollah Nassiri, a close associate of the Shah, and the service was reorganized and became increasingly active in the face of rising Islamic and Communist militancy and political unrest. SAVAK reported directly to the Office of the Prime Minister and had strong ties to the military.
SAVAK had virtually unlimited powers of arrest and detention. It operated its own detention centres, like the notorious Evin Prison. It is universally accepted that SAVAK routinely subjected detainees to physical torture. In addition to domestic security the service's tasks extended to the surveillance of Iranians (especially students on government stipends) abroad, notably in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom.
SAVAK agents often carried out operations against each other. Teymur Bakhtiar was assassinated by SAVAK agents in 1970, and Mansur Rafizadeh, SAVAK's United States director during the 1970s, reported that General Nassiri's phone was tapped. Hussein Fardust, a former classmate of the Shah, was a deputy director of SAVAK until he was appointed head of the Imperial Inspectorate, also known as the Special Intelligence Bureau, to watch over high-level government officials, including SAVAK directors. Also, SAVAK planned and executed the Black Friday (1978). SAVAK has killed an estimated amount of 20,000 people over the course of the Shah's regime.
The SAVAK did many operations outside the country. One of the most famous events was the killing of the Anti Shah leader Dr.Ali Shariati who was killed in Paris,France
At this point the Shah has become increasingly unpopular. He has completely alienated "his" people. Unfortunately the Shah was associated with everything Western, not just SAVAK and not just Western Colonialism, but Western ideals themselves (the good ones anyway). The opposite of the secular West were the religious fanatics (though at the early parts of the revolution liberals were also present it was only later that they lost influence, through assassination or otherwise).
By 1980 though Iran had bigger problems, namely the Iran-Iraq War. Iraq wanting to take advantage of the revolution (many competent Iranian officers were already executed and the military was in transition). The US and her Western allies were soon to join in the fun, Insuring a balanced and equally bloody war to maximize death and destruction for both sides.Islamic Revolution
Main article: Iranian revolution
After many months of popular protests against the rule of the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was forced to flee the nation on January 16, 1979. After a period of internal competition over the future of Iran, the contest was eventually won by the alliance led by the Ayatollah Khomeini who supported making Iran a theocratic state. On February 1, 1979, Khomeini returned from France (after 15 years in exile in France, Turkey, and Iraq) overthrowing the shah's government on February 11 and becoming Iran's Supreme Leader.
The new government was extremely conservative. It nationalized industry and restored Islamic traditions in culture and law. Western influences were banned and the existing pro-West elite was quick to join the shah in exile. There were clashes between rival religious factions and brutal repression quickly became commonplace.
Supported by Mujaheddin-e-Khalq, militant Iranian students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 and held it until January 20, 1981 (see Iran hostage crisis). The Carter administration severed diplomatic relations and imposed economic sanctions on April 7, 1980 and later that month attempted a rescue. A commando mission was aborted on April 25 after mechanical problems grounded rescue helicopters and eight American troops were killed in a mid-air collision. On May 24 the International Court of Justice called for the hostages' release. Finally Ronald Reagan ended the crisis on the day of his inauguration, agreeing to nearly all the Iranian terms.
There were over a million casualites, for more on the US and its' allies involvement in the war and aid to Iraq look here:The Iran-Iraq War, also called the First Persian Gulf War, or the Imposed War (جنگ تحمیلی, Jang-e-tahmīlī) in Iran and Saddām's Qādisiyyah (قادسيّة صدّام, Qādisiyyat Saddām) in Iraq, was a war between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran lasting from September 1980 to August 1988. It was commonly referred to as the (Persian) Gulf War until the Iraq-Kuwait conflict (1990–91), which became known as the Second Persian Gulf War and later simply the Persian Gulf War.
It has been called "the longest conventional warfare of the 20th century", and cost 1 million casualties and US$1.19 trillion. (D. Hiro)
The war began when Iraq invaded Iran on 22 September 1980 following a long history of border disputes. The conflict saw early successes by the Iraqis, but before long they were repulsed and the conflict stabilized into a long war of attrition. The United Nations Security Council called upon both parties to end the conflict on multiple occasions, but a ceasefire was not agreed to until 20 August 1988, and the last prisoners of war were not exchanged until 2003. The war irrevocably altered politics in the area, playing into wider global politics and leading to the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The war is also noted for extensive use of chemical weapons by Iraqi forces.
for US aid to Iran look up the Irangate or the Iran contra affair.
Unfortunately for the previously mentioned Western countries the war ended. Too bad... what's better than prolonging a bloody war and using the profits to help terrorist/freedom fighters on the other side of the planet?
At the tail end of the war there was another signifigant incident involving the US and Iran: Iran Air Flight 655
The rest shouldn't be too hard to remember.Iran Air Flight 655 (IR655) was a commercial flight operated by Iran Air that flew on a Tehran-Bandar Abbas-Dubai route. On July 3, 1988, the flight was shot down by the USS Vincennes on the Bandar Abbas-Dubai leg, resulting in 290 civilian fatalities from six nations including 66 children. There were 38 non-Iranians aboard.
The plane, an Airbus A300B2, registered EP-IBU, left Bandar Abbas at 10:17 am Iran Time (UTC+0330) that day, 27 minutes after its scheduled departure time of 9:50 am. It would have been a 28-minute flight. At that same time, the U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes, fitted with the AEGIS combat system, was nearby in the Strait of Hormuz, which the commercial airliner, flown by captain Mohsen Rezaian, would pass over. In command of the Vincennes was Captain William C. Rogers III.
The event is related to the US response to the Iran-Iraq War; at the time of the incident, the Vincennes, in support of Operation Earnest Will, was within Iranian territorial waters, following combat with and pursuit of Iranian gunboats. The USS Sides (FFG-14) and USS Elmer Montgomery (FF-1082) were nearby.
What happened thereafter is still subject to debate. [go to the link to read about the debate]
While issuing notes of regret over the loss of human life, the U.S. government has, to date, neither admitted any wrongdoing or responsibility in this tragedy, nor apologized, but continues to blame Iranian hostile actions for the incident. The men of the Vincennes were all awarded combat-action ribbons. Commander Lustig, the air-warfare coordinator, even won the navy's Commendation Medal for "heroic achievement," his "ability to maintain his poise and confidence under fire" having enabled him to "quickly and precisely complete the firing procedure." According to a 23 April 1990 article in The Washington Post, the Legion of Merit was presented to Captain Rogers and Lieutenant Commander Lustig on 3 July 1988. The citations did not mention the downing of the Iran Air flight at all. It should be noted that the Legion of Merit is often awarded to high ranking officers on successful completion of especially difficult duty assignments and/or last tours of duty before retirement.... Vice President George H. W. Bush declared a month later, "I will never apologize for the United States of America, ever. I don't care what it has done. I don't care what the facts are." (Newsweek, August 15, 1988)