He looked more like a poet than a great nationalistic leader.
His lanky frame supported a tall figure. His aquiline nose, thin lips and sincere, almost childish, gaze revealed the emotional person that he was.
When arguing on some points with all his beliefs, he would often break down in tears. In any argument he would feel the lump in his throat.
The Time magazine cover of January 7, 1952 featured a hand-drawn picture of this man. The only words below the picture read: "He wheeled the oil of chaos." Inside the article, he was referred to as "the new menace".
That was how Mohammad Mossadegh, Iran's most popular prime minister and champion of secular democracy, was regarded by the West – to be specific by the US and the UK.
And that was because he had nationalized Iran's oil industry. He believed that Iran's oil must belong to Iran and not to the so-called Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, a British subject.
Mossadegh came from a wealthy landlord family who long championed democracy and constitutional rule, he being a professor of law. He had been intricately involved with Iranian politics from his teen years and rose up to become Iran's deputy minister of finance (1917), finance minister (1921) and Majlis (parliament) deputy.
He was a friend of Reza Khan, the father of later Shah of Iran (Reza Pahlavi). When Reza planned to become the Shah, Mossadegh resisted him for which he faced the former's wrath and even landed in jail. He even left politics in a fit of disappointment.
But then he was once again coaxed into politics and his first task was to campaign against the Supplementary Oil Agreement that set the royalty for Iran from the British oil company.
Then he became the prime minister of Iran and immediately passed a bill to nationalize oil.
After months of talks with the British, Mossadegh refused the British any further involvement in Iran's oil industry. Britain then appealed to the US for help.
The British and the Americans immediately viewed Mossadegh's step as going against their interest and so the CIA and the British intelligence teamed up to dislodge Mossadegh. A plan was hatched to install Shah as the key power person in Iran.
It was however not until 2013, 60 years after the Iranian leader was overthrown, that the CIA publicly admitted its involvement in the coup that saw the toppling of Mossadegh.
"The military coup that overthrew Mossadegh and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of the US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of governments," reads an internal CIA history titled "the battle for Iran".
The coup plan was led by Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of US president Theodore Roosevelt.
Over four days in August 1953, CIA would orchestrate two coups, one that failed and the other that saw the removal of Mossadegh.
The CIA worked directly with royalist Iranian military officers, sent a stream of envoys to bolster the Shah's courage, directed a campaign of bombings by Iranians posing as members of the Communist Party, and planted articles and editorial cartoons in newspapers.
Documents now show that in meetings in November and December 1952, British intelligence officials startled their American counterparts with a plan for a joint operation to oust Mossadegh.
The Americans, who "had not intended to discuss this question at all," agreed to study it. The fear that Iran might fall into Soviet axis made the US interested in the coup plan.
In March 1953, CIA's Tehran station reported that an Iranian general had approached the American Embassy about supporting an army-led coup.
The CIA immediately approved $1 million to be used "in any way that would bring about the fall of Mossadegh".
Within days, agency officials identified a high-ranking officer, Gen Fazlollah Zahedi, as the man to spearhead a coup. Their plan called for the Shah to play a leading role.
It was a classical coup plan -- the army and press would be bought off. The army would disobey Mossadegh while mobs would rule the streets, fermenting anti-Mossadegh sentiment.
While the plot was being drawn up in Cyprus, there were a lot of doubts about whether the Shah has the courage to be the coup leader. Also, Gen Fazlollah Zahedi's competence was in question.
To infuse courage in Shah, CIA brought in his sister, Princess Ashraf, from France.
In early June, American and British intelligence officials met again, this time in Beirut, and put the finishing touches to the strategy.
Soon afterward, the chief of the CIA's Near East and Africa division, Kermit Roosevelt, arrived in Tehran to execute it.
The CIA then stepped up the pressure. Iranian operatives pretending to be Communists threatened Muslim leaders with "savage punishment if they opposed Mossadegh," seeking to stir anti-Communist sentiment in the religious community. Mosques and houses of Islamic leaders were bombed.
But the first coup then began on August 15 night was a botched attempt and Mossadegh who sensed the coup early, took counter steps.
Mossadegh had by now figured out that there was a plot against him. He moved to consolidate power by calling for a national referendum to dissolve the parliament.
Mossadegh learned of the plot hours before it was to begin and sent his deputy to the barracks of the Imperial Guard. The deputy was arrested there just as pro-Shah soldiers were fanning out across the city arresting other senior officials.
Pro-Shah soldiers sent to arrest Mossadegh at his home were instead captured. The top military officer working with General Zahedi fled when he saw tanks and loyal government soldiers at army headquarters. The next morning, the Tehran radio announced that a coup against the government had failed.
It was a time of for confusion and so CIA chief Roosevelt left the embassy and tracked down General Zahedi, who was in hiding in the north of Tehran.
The general still believed that the coup could be re-orchestrated.
According to the new plan, the CIA station in Tehran sent a message to The Associated Press in New York, asserting that "unofficial reports are current to the effect that leaders of the plot are armed with two decrees of the Shah, one dismissing Mossadegh and the other appointing General Zahedi to replace him."
The same propaganda was spread in Tehran too.
But meantime, an unnerved Shah fled to Baghdad. It was a bolt from the blue as the main man in the coup plot was missing. The coup planners' only hope was that Shah make an announcement over radio that he has taken over power and dismissed Mossadegh.
On the morning of Aug. 17, the Shah finally made the announcement from Baghdad that he had signed the decrees to dismiss Mossadegh.
General Zahedi met with CIA officials at the US embassy and planned an attack on Mossadegh the next day. A leading cleric from Tehran would make a call for a holy war against Communism.
But Shah, further unnerved, fled to Rome from Baghdad, making the coup plan more complicated.
The CIA was then thinking whether to abandon the coup plan.
But then agitation on the street was successful and thousands of people were mobilized and protesters backed by the CIA agents marched towards the parliament.
An Iranian Army colonel who had been involved in the plot several days earlier suddenly appeared outside the parliament with a tank, while members of the now-disbanded Imperial Guard seized trucks and drove through the streets.
And soon the coup ball started rolling and one office after another of Mossadegh surrendered.
Mossadegh and other government officials were rounded up. A coup was successful just four days after a failed one.
A new era began for Iran. Under the Shah's rule, the most savage regime started with no democracy in place and no civil rights recognized.
The coup of 1953 implanted a long loathing in the Iranian minds for the US.
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, in an address in March, acknowledged the coup's pivotal role in the troubled relationship and came closer to apologizing than any American official ever had before. "The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons," she said. "But the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development. And it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs."