Believe it or not, the US and Iran were friends prior to 1953. Great Britain and Russia were both regarded as exploiters and enemies of the Iranian people. The US, in contrast, had no hidden agenda in Iran and American citizens there worked for the good of Iranians. We were widely praised for being the exception to Western greed. Great Britain treated Iranians as second class citizens or worse in their own country. In fact, Britain treated Iranians the same way it had treated the Irish for centuries with the same results. The British were and are still widely disliked in both countries.
The principal bone of contention between Britain and Iran was the compensation paid to Iran for the oil that Britain exported from the vast Iranian resources. Impossible to calculate accurately because Britain kept the numbers secret, it appears now that Britain retained from 95 to 99% of the profits, to Iran’s growing dismay. Aramco and Saudi Arabia agreed to a 50-50% split and Iran wanted a similar deal. Britain, acting through its state-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP), refused.
Britain appealed to the Truman administration for support in its position. We told Britain to compromise and live up to past promises which it had not. When Eisenhower became President, Britain tried again and in an era of communist expansion with Russia on Iran’s northern doorstep, the Eisenhower administration was convinced that a CIA engineered coup against the democratically elected Iranian government of Premier Mohammad Mossadegh was warranted. That was a mistake that Iran has not forgiven us for. To keep the Shah in power, we sold Iran vast quantities of armaments, thereby creating US jobs and earning back some of the money the US spent on oil imports.
In my opinion, the US should apologize to Iran for that mistake. We should then negotiate our differences, with the goal of becoming friends again and eventually allies. It is a central tenet of Iran’s form of Islam that God requires the overthrow of unjust rulers. We invaded Iraq, according to George W. Bush, to overthrow Saddam Hussein and bring democracy to the Middle East. That also was a mistake. Iran dominated the area in the past and may do so again in the future. Iran also has a long history of seeking to develop democracy at home and help overthrow tyrants abroad. The US should join with Iran to bring democracy with peace and stability to the Middle East. Israel has nothing to fear from Iran if Israel treats the Palestinians within its borders with dignity and respect.