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Mossadegh wasn't exactly a liberal. He nationalized the oil industry and the very justification for Operation Ajax was the fear that Mossadegh would ally Iran with the USSR -- who were certainly socialist and most definitely not liberal.

Moreover, multiple US administrations pressured the Shah on human rights and, more generally, the US has a definite (though certainly not absolute and varying by administration) preference for working with regimes with a decent human rights record.

I would also quibble with the sole attribution of his fall to Ajax (he was already deeply unpopular when it began, albeit arguably unfairly) and note that his extensive use of emergency powers at the time make the "democratically elected" bit somewhat misleading, even if nominally true.




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