The Shah – my part in his downfall (with apologies to Spike Milligan)
Speaker: Alan Rustage
When we flew out to Iran in 1976, it was considered to be one of the most stable countries in the Third World. The monarchy had only recently celebrated its 2,500th anniversary, the army was the best armed in the Middle East, America was a staunch ally, and photographs of the shah were in every shop and restaurant.
Less than three years later, when we caught an early morning evacuation flight laid on by the RAF, the shah was gone, his close friend and court minister had been executed by a firing squad of widows (the newspaper brought out a special edition with photographs of the body), the Intercontinental Hotel was occupied by members of the Islamic militia, and a cleric who had been in exile for fourteen years was about to establish a theocratic totalitarian government.
How did it happen? Why did it happen? And for what reasons was the CIA taken so completely by surprise?