(Excerpted from Chapter 1: David Rockefeller & the Shah of Iran: Big Oil & Their Bankers…)
Wherever the Four Horsemen (Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco, BP Amoco & Royal Dutch/Shell) gallop the CIA is close behind. Iran was no exception. By 1957 the Company, as intelligence insiders know the CIA, created one of its first Frankensteins – the Shah of Iran’s brutal secret police known as SAVAK.
Kermit Roosevelt, the Mossadegh coup-master turned Northrop salesman, admitted in his memoirs that SAVAK was 100% created by the CIA and Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency that acts as appendage of the CIA. For the next 20 years the CIA and SAVAK were joined at the hip when it came to matters of Persian Gulf security.
Three hundred fifty SAVAK agents were shuttled each year to CIA training facilities in McLean, Virginia, where they learned the finer arts of interrogation and torture. Top SAVAK brass were trained through the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Public Safety Program, until it was shut down in 1973 due to its reputation for turning out some of the world’s finest terrorists.
In 1963 when JFK was assassinated SAVAK Chief Hassan Pakravan joined the Shah in Tehran to celebrate Kennedy’s death. CIA, MI6 and Mossad supported 30 paramilitary groups in Iran and provided support to Shah-loyalist groups.
Popular anger towards Big Oil, the Shah and his new police state resulted in mass protests. The Shah dealt with the peaceful demonstrations with sheer brutality and got a wink and nod from Langley. From 1957-79 Iran housed 125,000 political prisoners. SAVAK “disappeared” dissenters, a strategy replicated by CIA surrogate dictators in Argentina and Chile.
SAVAK’s campaign of terror reached its nadir on June 15th, 1963. That day over 1,000 people were butchered by SAVAK forces, in what became known as the 15th of Khordad Massacre. In 1974 the director of Amnesty International declared that no country had a worse human rights record than Iran. The CIA responded by increasing its support for SAVAK.
A small group of elite families close to the Shah assumed total control of the Iranian economy. The Aalam, Sadri, Bakhtiyari and Eqbal families were part of this tiny but powerful aristocracy, as were the Rafsanjanis, who owned thousands of hectares of pistachio groves and whose son Hashemi would later become Iran’s President.
Under the Shah’s reign, the Rafsanjanis made millions in real estate transactions, selling much of their land to the throngs of multinational corporations who flocked to Tehran, where they were awarded tax holidays, exemptions of duties on imported machinery and low-interest US-taxpayer-guaranteed Export-Import Bank loans.
In 1971 the Shah held an extravagant coronation to celebrate the 2,500-year anniversary of the Peacock Throne. Guests included Chase Manhattan insider John McCloy and George Ball, the long-time State Department hack who was now a senior partner at Lehman Brothers. Chase Manhattan, the Bank of America and Morgan Guaranty had been doing business in Iran for a very long time. Now they were joined by a horde of other banking giants.
In 1968 Citibank bought a 35% stake in Bank Iranian. Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust, led by Minos Zombanakis, became intimately involved in Iranian affairs. Chase Chairman David Rockefeller presented the Shah with a hunting rifle and bought up Iranian art. Soon Chase had a 35% share of the Industrial Credit Bank of Iran. Bankers flocked to the Hilton and Intercontinental Hotels in Tehran to put together loan deals, which led to huge contracts for the multinational corporations which these same banks controlled.
B.F. Goodrich, Allied Chemical and Amoco established huge petrochemical joint ventures in Khuzistan. Chase Investment, Diamond Agatel, Mitsui and Hawaiian Agronomic built an agro-industrial complex. The world’s first aluminum smelter popped up at Arak in a joint venture between Reynolds, Kaiser, British Metal and General Cable.
Dow Chemical, FMC and John Deere set up agribusiness operations, while Cargill, Continental and other international grain giants flooded the Iranian market with US taxpayer-subsidized wheat, corn and feed grains.
Iran had been self-sufficient in foodstuffs. Now the country embarked upon an export-led development strategy that benefited a handful of Tehran elite and their multinational partners. Cotton, sugar cane and sugar beet cultivation for export replaced traditional subsistence crops like maize and rice with help from USAID.
In 1961, before this “White Revolution”, 79% of Iranian agriculture was for domestic consumption. Ten years later only 50% of production stayed in country while the other half was exported. Most multinationals operating in Iran went through either Chase Manhattan or Bank Omran, which became known at the USDA as “the Shah’s bank”.
Food deficits weren’t far behind. Soon Iran found itself importing basic foods like wheat and corn to feed its increasingly urbanized population. Destitute farmers, plowed under by foreign agribusiness, flooded into Tehran and other large cities. In 1963 there had been over 40,000 villages in Iran. When the Shah was deposed in 1979 there were less than 10,000.
The population of Tehran doubled during the 1970’s, with many of the newcomers living in the growing shantytowns. Ironically, many built their shanties out of US military crates, which were now arriving daily.
Dean Henderson is the author of five books:Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve, Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel. You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column @www.hendersonlefthook.wordpress.com