1951-1977

1951 — Iran elected Mohammad Mosaddegh to the post of Prime Minister, and his first major policy was the nationalization of the oil assets his country held, in violation of the exploitative arrangement made at the turn of the century with the British. He explained his position in a speech in June the same year:

Our long years of negotiations with foreign countries… have yielded no results this far. With the oil revenues we could meet our entire budget and combat poverty, disease, and backwardness among our people. Another important consideration is that by the elimination of the power of the British company, we would also eliminate corruption and intrigue, by means of which the internal affairs of our country have been influenced. Once this tutelage has ceased, Iran will have achieved its economic and political independence.

The Iranian state prefers to take over the production of petroleum itself. The company should do nothing else but return its property to the rightful owners. The nationalization law provides that 25% of the net profits on oil be set aside to meet all the legitimate claims of the company for compensation.

It has been asserted abroad that Iran intends to expel the foreign oil experts from the country and then shut down oil installations. Not only is this allegation absurd; it is utter invention.

There was immediate conflict in the global marketplace between Iran and Britain, as the pressure the English placed on other countries hampered the emerging Middle Eastern giant’s attempts to sell their own oil. Iran responded by completely cutting all British involvement out in their national oil interests, dealing a significant blow to the economic strength of the United Kingdom.

1953 — Operation Ajax, a joint British and U.S. intelligence effort, succeeded in deposing the democratically elected leader of Iran, Prime Minister Mossadegh, and replaced him with the authoritarian Shah Pahlavi. Pahlavi immediately began to rule the nation with an iron fist, jailing dissidents and executing those he considered a threat. His reign — especially with his Mossad/MI6/CIA trained SAVAK secret police — would later be described by Amnesty International as the worst violation of human rights in history.

1960 — OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) held its first meeting in Baghdad. Founded by Iran and Venezuela, the initial membership also included Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. It was formed as a way for petroleum producing nations to have closer and more frequent dialogues.

1968 — OAPEC (Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries) was created, with the aim of “separating politics and oil production” in the wake of the previous year’s failed oil embargo — a response to the Six Day War, also known as the Third Arab-Israeli War. All of the members of OAPEC were Arab nations with grievances against the West and Israel that they felt could be best addressed through economic and political action spurred on by their organization.

1970 — The United States hit its peak oil production, at which point its remaining oil reserves produced declining amounts of crude. This marked a transition to a much heavier reliance on foreign oil to shore up the federal reserves, especially given the tense environment of the Cold War with Soviet Russia and the need for emergency supplies for both public and private interests. Shifting to heavier trade for oil slowed the post-war growth of the American economy, and started a series of small tremors in financial markets in both Americas, Europe, and Asia.

1971 — Caving to Western pressure and with many promises of foreign aid greasing the wheels, OPEC announced that moving forward, all trade of any petroleum commodity under its control would be done in U.S. Dollars, much to the chagrin of many Arab and Communist nations. No concrete proof ever emerged that U.S. or other foreign intelligence services directly influenced this decision, but multiple nations ascribed to it as being historical canon, which further damaged diplomatic relations in the region.

The many nations that were forced to buy U.S. Dollars helped strengthen the American economy, but did not stop it from firmly becoming a heavy debtor nation.

1973 — While dealing with the emerging energy crisis caused by disrupted production in the Middle East and declining domestic production, the United States House Subcommittee on Foreign Relations published a report titled “Oil Fields as Military Objectives: A Feasibility Study.” This served as a blueprint for the military industrial expansion of American might in following decades.

OAPEC, in response to the Yom Kippur War and the emergency resupplies that enabled Israel to withstand the joint Egyptian and Syrian forces, established an oil embargo against the United States and several other western countries. This, combined with inflation pressures, monetary collapse, and the Nixon Shock (the end of convertibility between USD and gold, also known as American withdrawal from the Bretton Woods Accord), led to the Stock Market Crash of ‘73-’74: the most long felt economic meltdown at that point in the United States since The Great Depression. This would only be superseded by the last financial collapses of the 2000s and 2010s.

1974 — With the Fourth Arab-Israeli war ended in October the previous year, OAPEC ended the oil embargo against Western states through a series of negotiations and conferences. Only Libya continued to withhold supply.

The average American farm produced one calorie of food per calorie of fossil fuel input. This was primarily due to changes in pesticides and fertilizers that were becoming more and more petroleum dependent. Market demands also caused a surge in out-of-season growing, which required energy intensive land grooming.

1976 — Iran hit peak oil production.

1977 — Trinidad and Tobago hit peak oil production.

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