BUY OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The American Decades and learn more about the struggle for power and oil in Iran at the inception of The Cold War.



From Part 3 of OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The American Decades: A verdict and a young firebrand...

Tehran, 1951

Later that morning he joined Rhoades, as previously arranged, and they walked together across the city to the Palace of Justice to observe the trial of the accused assassin, Kahlil Taramasibi Fedayani. Monty made no mention of Tekla but now, as Rhoades lectured about ways to move through the streets minimizing detection, and pointed out things about the car and foot traffic around them worth taking notice of, Livingstone paid stricter attention. He now knew his ability to move stealthily and keep track of what was going on around him was vital, if not to life, at least to love.


At the magnificent palace that housed the Iranian State Supreme Court, they waded through throngs milling on the broad marble steps outside. They squeezed into the courtroom among throngs of passionate Muslims whispering in anticipation of the trial. Before Monty got comfortable on the elegant hardwood benches of the trial chamber, the Judge - a cleric and, by the terms of the Iranian constitution of 1906, the sole authority in legal matters (including capital crimes such as murder and adultery) - dismissed the case. The believers exploded in joyous celebration and carried the weeping Kahlil from the courtroom to the steps outside.


Rhoades and Livingstone followed and stood on the palace portico above the apparently spontaneous demonstration. Milling throngs cheered the brave but now unmartyred hero as he modestly spoke a few words. When he finished his hesitating sentences, the crowd erupted in frenzy.


"This turns my stomach," Rhoades muttered to Monty.


"What did he say? I heard the word Allah."


"He said he was only submitting to the will of Allah."


"What is that chant?" Monty asked of the crowd's repetitive cadences.


"Death to the British. Death to the Shah," Rhoades muttered quietly, shaking his head. "Death to infidels and those who steal from the people."


"Infidels and the people?" Monty asked, smiling grimly. "Is that some kind of hybrid communist-Muslimism?" Rhoades did not answer. Monty looked away from the crowd to Rhoades and saw the British agent staring at a tall young man with large, dark, tired eyes, a heavy nose and big lips wearing the traditional loose clothing and turban of the clerics. The young man was talking to a smaller man wearing western clothes who was scribbling into a notepad as the cleric talked. "What?" Monty asked.


"You recognize that one?" Rhoades asked.


"Cleric," Monty replied, shrugging.


"Obviously," said Rhoades, walking away from Livingstone, toward the cleric.


Monty followed. In a nonchalant way, they walked near enough to the cleric to hear what he was saying. Rhoades lingered. The cleric went on talking until he noticed Rhoades and Monty. When he looked up and stared hard at them, Monty saw a seriousness and rage and pain in the deep sad eyes like nothing he had ever seen before. The cleric stopped talking and held Rhoades in his gaze. For an instant the Britisher squeezed his eyes into the piercing squint Monty had seen when Rhoades was dealing with the smugglers who had the knife at Monty's throat. But this was in Rhoades' eyes only for an instant. Suddenly, he grinned, and his big, round, wrinkled, leathery face became almost clownishly innocent. "So sorry. Didn't mean to interrupt," Rhoades bubbled. "Carry on." He led Monty away.


When they were at a distance, Monty glanced back. The cleric went on talking and his companion resumed making notes. "Who was that guy?" Monty asked as he followed Rhoades across the palace plaza to the far side.


"Young firebrand," Rhoades replied, still thinking. "Ruhollah Khomeini." As they walked, young men handed them flyers. "Heard of him?"


"No," Monty answered, studying the flyers that, printed in Persian, meant nothing to him. "What was he saying and why was that guy writing it down?"


"Chap with the notepad was a reporter. Khomeini was telling him Mossadeq has forsaken Islam."

"Even Mossy isn?t good enough for him?"


"Kashani is the politician. He thinks we will eventually compromise on the oil. Says we eventually must let Iranians be patriots. But his strength comes from believers like this Khomeini. Nationalists and fundamentalists. Works as long as Fatwas condemn our oil company."


"But the radicals are going to want to condemn the Shah, aren?t they? Or the elected parliament?"


"Uneasy lies the crown," smiled Rhoades.


Livingstone thought about the revolving, evolving alliances and the many players. "Hard to figure," he said, deciding he still did not understand.

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