Thursday, January 30, 2014

The den of US espionage

It cannot be properly considered a monument, but the former US embassy in Tehran, and the events surrounding it, had a profound impact on the recent history of the country, and is worth a visit.

In 1953, from a bunker beneath the building, the CIA organized a coup d’├ętat which brought down the government of the at that time Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, guilty of having nationalized the Iranian petroleum industry controlled by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, and re-installed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah, as absolute monarch.

26 years later, on November 4, 1979, a few hundreds of Iranian students supporting the Iranian Revolution assaulted and occupied the US Embassy and held hostage 52 Americans for more than one year.

Today the embassy is a museum which displays incriminating documents that were painstakingly pieced back together after being shredded as the embassy was being taken over (if you have seen Argo, you may remember this scene…). (Unfortunately the museum is open only a few days per year, and not in December - so we could not visit it).

The former embassy' surrounding walls have been covered with murals which portray, without even being too allusive, the ‘Great Satan’: the US.

Obama and Rouhani have a lot of work to do…

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