Amongst British diplomats there's a rather poignant joke that Iran is the only country in the world which still regards the United Kingdom as a super power. But for many Iranians, it's not a joke at all. Scratch the surface, and Iranians of all political persuasions will remind you that it was Britain, with the US, who removed the democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh. The coup against Mosaddegh may have been in 1953, but for Iranians that feels like yesterday.
Rather as we in the United Kingdom continue to define ourselves by what happened nearly eighty years ago at the start of the Second World War, modern Iranians define themselves by their bloody experience of the Iran Iraq war of 1980 88, where the country had stood alone against Iraq. The conflict was an act of unprovoked aggression by Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq. The rest of the world France, the Soviet Union, later the US and the UK all piled in to support Iraq, with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States bankrolling Saddam. It was this experience that has helped define Iran s view of the world, and its attitudes to both its local rivals for power and those further afield.
This book seeks to illuminate Britain's difficult relationship with Iran, and in doing so provide anyone with an interest in Iran, with a better understanding of this extraordinary country.
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