August 15-19, 1953: A U.S.-backed coup removes Iranian prime minister Mossadeq from power.
Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, British and American intelligence groups worry that Mossadeq's nationalist aspirations will lead to an eventual communist takeover. To avoid this, U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower approves a joint British-American operation to overthrow Mossadeq. After the first day it appears the coup has failed, and the Shah flees to Baghdad. Widespread rioting ensues, flamed by the CIA and British intelligence services, and Mossadeq is defeated. Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlevi returns to power, and Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi, the leader of military coup, becomes prime minister.