On Aug. 19, 1953, Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh (pictured) was ousted from power in a bloody coup that saw hundreds of his supporters killed, his foreign minister executed and Mossadegh himself, after there years of solitary confinement, placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.
On the 60th anniversary of the coup, the U.S. government made public long-secret documents that confirmed what had been believed by historians for decades: the American Central Intelligence Agency was behind the coup that ended Iran’s democracy and installed the brutally repressive regime of Shah Reza Pahlavi.
On Wednesday, Iran’s parliament tok the first step toward suing the United States over its now-confirmed sponsorship of the coup.
"America’s oppressive behavior [in 1953] shows that the Iranian nation has to stand up and pursue its trampled rights,” said one Iranian legislator who backed the move, Mahdi Mousavinejad.
The parliament passed a bill that sets up a study committee to figure out how to go about suing the United States. The committee has six months before the lawsuit is set to be filed in an international court.
While 167 of Iran’s members of parliament cast votes favoring the move, five dissented.
"Pursuing this bill has no benefits for our country," said lawmaker Mohammad Mahdi Rahbari. "It will waste the parliament's time."
But even if Iran goes ahead with the lawsuit, which would likely be heard at International Court of Justice in the Hague, Netherlands, would it make any difference?
“The U.S. could easily say, ‘we are not going through with this,’” said international law expert James Kraska, a professor at Duke University. “Judgements can always be ignored. There is no enforcement mechanism, no international police force.”
Kraska told the independent news organization Mint Press News that even with the recently released CIA documents, Iran would have to meet a nearly impossible standard of proof to win its case.
“You would have to prove that the proximate cause of the overthrow of the government was the U.S. and was not internal forces and the U.S. sort of helped them along,” the professor said.
SOURCES: Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Mint Press News, National Security Archive, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh