Source: Counterpunch – Lawrence S. Wittner
The offshore oil drilling catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico brought to us by British Petroleum has overshadowed its central role over the past century in fostering some other disastrous events.
British Petroleum originated in 1908 as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company—a British corporation whose name was changed to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company two decades later. With exclusive rights to extract, refine, export, and sell Iran’s rich oil resources, the company reaped enormous profits. Meanwhile, it shared only a tiny fraction of the proceeds with the Iranian government. Similarly, although the company’s British personnel lived in great luxury, its Iranian laborers endured lives of squalor and privation.
In 1947, as Iranian resentment grew at the giant oil company’s practices, the Iranian parliament called upon the Shah, Iran’s feudal potentate, to renegotiate the agreement with Anglo-Iranian. Four years later, Mohammed Mossadeq, riding a tide of nationalism, became the nation’s prime minister. As an enthusiastic advocate of taking control of Iran’s oil resources and using the profits from them to develop his deeply impoverished nation, Mossadeq signed legislation, passed unanimously by the country’s parliament, to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Continue reading