'On 8 May, Iran announced the suspension of some commitments it had made under the 2015 international nuclear deal. This comes amid increasing US hostility towards the country.
Iran originally signed the deal to get relief from crippling US sanctions. But the US abandoned the deal in 2018. And since then, Washington has imposed harsh new sanctions on the country. In recent days, meanwhile, the Trump administration has threatened Iran with military force.
Reporting the latest events from Iran, the BBC attempted to offer context on the history of Western-Iranian relations. But its summary looked very much like a whitewash.
What about the Western-backed coup of 1953?
The BBC noted that:
Tensions between the US and Iran can be traced back to Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, which overthrew the pro-Western Shah and established a radical anti-US regime in its place.
But 1979 is a very curious cut-off point. Because a Western-backed coup two and a half decades prior was a key source of tensions.
In 1953, Britain and the US helped overthrow Iranian democracy. Why? Because prime minister Muhammad Mossadegh decided to nationalise the operations of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later British Petroleum).
The coup then ushered in a US- and British-backed dictatorship under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. This regime oversaw decades of repression, human rights violations, and torture.
Don’t let the BBC whitewash history
Noam Chomsky reminded us of Washington’s long history of “tormenting Iranians” in 2017:
It… wouldn’t hurt to recall that in the past six decades, scarcely a day has passed when Washington was not tormenting Iranians. After the 1953 military coup came U.S. support for a dictator described by Amnesty International as a leading violator of fundamental human rights. Immediately after his overthrow came the U.S.-backed invasion of Iran by Saddam Hussein, no small matter. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians were killed, many by chemical weapons
The BBC‘s whitewashing of this chapter of Western foreign intervention is particularly concerning given the broadcaster’s own reported role in the 1953 coup. As historian Mark Curtis wrote, the BBC apparently played an active part in its organisation:
The signal for the coup scenario to begin had been arranged with the BBC; the latter agreed to begin its Persian language news broadcast not with the usual “it is now midnight in London”, but instead with “it is now exactly midnight”.
It is thus unsurprising that the BBC‘s selective memory on Iran has caused widespread anger and complaints.'
Read more: BBC under fire for whitewashing history of Western coup-plotting in Iran