Operation Ajax was the code name given to the Central Intelligence Operation to overthrown the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and install the pro-western Shah. The operation is significant in American History as it is the first CIA operation to overthrow a foreign government.
Secretary of State Dulles obtained authorization for the coup from President Eisenhower. Eisenhower, along with officials from Great Britain were concerned of Prime Minister Mossadegh's plans to nationalize Iran's oil fields. Mossadegh's plans were approved through the Iranian parliament. However, U.S. and Great Britain were concerned about the flow of oil and the impact on British Petroleum, the major British oil company that had control of the majority of the Iranian oil fields.
With Eisenhower's approval, the CIA orchestrated the coup by various means. CIA operatives work directly with Iranian military officers, directed a campaign of bombings by Iranians posing as members of the Communist Party, and planted articles and editorial cartoons in the newspapers. The CIA also handpicked the successor, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlev (The Shah), to assume power. The Shah was considered cowardly by the CIA, and was reluctant to participate. The CIA sent numerous envoys to bolster the Shah's courage. Two days after the coup, the CIA funneled five million dollars into Iran to help consolidated the government.
The coup was successful and on August 19, 1953, the Shah assumed power.
CIA Document: Overthrow of Premier Mossadegh This link is to a CIA document which outlines the participation, methods, and results of the CIA's coup in Iran.
Iranians take to the streets after the successful coup.
The Shah on his way to Iran to assume power.