The 1953 Coup in Iran: About Oil or Communism?

Hosted by the Middle East Centre

Wolfson Lecture Theatre, New Academic Building, 54 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LJ


Prof Ervand Abrahamian

Prof Ervand Abrahamian

Baruch College/ Graduate Center CUNY


Dr Massoumeh Torfeh

Dr Massoumeh Torfeh



Listen to the podcast of this event here

There has been much discussion whether the 1953 should be understood in the context of the Cold War or that of economic conflicts between the industrial West and developing countires--in other words, as precursor of the rise of OPEC and oil nationalisation by emerging states in the 1960s and 1970s. In this talk, Professor Abrahamian will focus on how far the newly released State Department and CIA documents help answer this question.  

Ervand Abrahamian is Professor Emeritus of History at Baruch College and the Graduate Center in the City University of New York. He is also the author of: Iran Between Two Revolutions (Princeton University Press, 1982); The Iranian Mojahedin (Yale University Press, 1989); Khomeinism (University of California Press, 1993); Tortured confessions: Prisons and Public Reactions in Iran (University of California Press, 2004); A History of Modern Iran (Cambridge University Press, 2008); and The Coup: 1953, The CIA and the Roots of Modern US-Iranian Relations (The New Press, 2013). Some of his books have been translated and published in Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Italian, and Polish.He is now writing a book on the 1979 revolution in Iran. In 2011, he was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Massoumeh Torfeh is a research associate at the London School of Economics and Political Science and at the School of Oriental and African Studies specialising in the politics of Iran and Afghanistan.  She is a regular media commentator analysing developments in both countries. She was formerly the director of communications and spokesperson for the United Nations in Afghanistan, and a BBC World Service senior producer. She has published several papers about Iran in academic journals and co-authored two books on Iran.  Her main focus of research has, however, been the causes of the repeated failure of democracy in Iran. Her PhD in Political Science is from LSE and on that subject. 

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Image: Banner featuring Mohammad Mosaddeq during Iran's 1953 Coup. Source: 


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