72 years ago, the Iranian Parliament ratified oil legislation that caused extreme worry for neocolonial powers.
Led by Prime Minister Mosaddegh and religious figures such as Ayatollah Kashani, the nationalization of Iran’s oil entered a new phase on [Iranian calendar month of] Esfand 29 (falling on March 20) after the Majlis passed the related legislation.
The movement sought to cut the hands of Britain that was exploiting Iran’s oil and giving a tiny portion back to the country. London could not tolerate such a movement for many reasons and hence set the stage for a coup against Mosaddegh two years later with the cooperation of Americans.
Western companies had been involved in the extraction of oil in Iran and other countries in the Middle East since extraction had become technically and financially feasible.
By the end of the 1940s, there was a growing resentment in Iran to the huge imbalance in oil revenues that the British government and the Iranian government were receiving from the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), formerly the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Similar arrangements between the US and countries such as Saudi Arabia seemed more equitable and in 1950, Britain offered a new concession to Iraq with regard to oil revenue.
This fuelled a surge in anti-British rhetoric, with the leader of the National Front of Iran, Dr Mohammad Mosaddegh leading calls to end foreign influence in Iran and nationalizing the oil industry.