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Garrett CookProfessor SuttonENGL 2400April, 2015US-Iran Relations in the mid-20thCenturyThe current, tenuous relationship between the United States of America and Iran has not always been the way it is. This paper will explore the effects of the United States of America’s involvement with the covert Operation Ajax and how its effects and other actions led to the Iranian Revolution and the deterioration of US-Iran Relations. The United States’ involvement and coordination of Operation Ajax served as a rallying cry against the Shah and the West duringthe Iranian Revolution and continues to be a focal point of the anti-West/USA sentiment in Iran. Before we can jump right into Operation Ajax and why it is significant to the Iranian Revolution, one must first have some history and background on the British role in Iran and on the role of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, whose nationalization by the prime minister of Iran in the 1950s set in motion Operation Ajax. In 1901, a wealthy British entrepreneur by the name of William Knox D’Arcy sent a message to Tehran to broker a deal for rights to oil exploration in Iran. A deal was made for approximately 66% of the land area of Iran, to have the right to all oil found on that land for 60 years, and to pay 16% of oil profits to Iran for a sum of (in today’s currency) British pounds in the millions (2-3 million pounds). He searched for oil for three years and spent millions of pounds doing so but he was ultimately unsuccessful. He eventually sold these rights to what would become the Anglo-Persian oil company in return for a large sum of shares in the corporation and a payment to recoup the money he had spent in search of oil in Iran. Three years later the largest oil field in the world (at the time) was found and the British government paid many millions for a controlling interesting in the newly created Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Because of this, the British government took a significant interest in the stability of Iran (Persia) (Carment adb.anu.edu.au/).
In the 1920s, the negative sentiment towards the Anglo-Persian Oil Company reached theIranian government. This sentiment was because the Persian people felt as though their natural resources were being exploited and they were receiving very little from it. The Great Depression in the United States and other worldly economic declines led to a huge drop in oil prices and as aresult, so did the royalty paid to the Iranian government. The Court Minister of Iran battled for many years in negotiations with the British to gain a higher percentage royalty of profits, a reduced land area that the Anglo-Persian Oil Company could utilize a minimum guarantee of dividends from shares in the company and a fixed royalty on each ton of oil produced. The CourtMinister was ultimately unsuccessful and the Shah was very angry and had to take over negotiations, which were further escalated after he completely cancelled the original agreement in whole. (Kinzer 51)