\(fi A4i photo: Ronald Cortez Bill Clements be in control of his country’s oil. Anglo-Iranian was making tens of millions of dollars in profits every year from its Iranian concession. The British assured the Iranians that they were getting fair compensation for their oil, but the Iranians believedrightlythey were being cheated and under Premier Mossadegh’s leadership, legislation was passed in Iran to nationalize the oil company. The British appealed to the Americans for help. But American President Harry Truman refused to pressure Mossadegh. His successor, Dwight Eisenhower, wasn’t so reluctant. Shortly after Eisenhower got to the White House in January 1953, he was convinced by a number of intelligence officers that the longer Mossadegh ruled Iran, the more likely it was that Iran would become a Communist nation. With anti-Communist fever sweeping America, Eisenhower agreed to a plan put forth by the Central Intelligence Agency to overthrow Mossadegh. The plan would be executed by a CIA agent, Kermit Roosevelt, who was the grandson of former U.S. president Teddy Roosevelt. On August 19, 1953, the coup succeeded. Mossadegh was tossed into jail and the Shah, who had been forced to leave the country by Mossadegh’s followers, was brought back and installed once again on Iran’s Peacock Throne. A short time later, the Shah signed an agreement that gave control of the country’s oil to a consortium of Western oil companies: a 40 percent share of Iran’s oil production went to BP; 35 percent was split among Mobil, Gulf Oil, Chevron, Exxon, and Texaco; and the remaining 25 percent was split among American, French, and Dutch oil companies. The signing of the consortium deal was Bill Clements’s big opportunity. Within months of the coup against Mossadegh, Clements began negotiating a contract with the new oil consortium to handle the country’s drilling needs. By early 1958, Clements’s company, Southeastern Drilling Company, better known as Sedco, was drilling wells in one of Iran’s biggest natural gas fields and building pipelines to carry that gas to residents of Tehran. It was the beginning of a long relationship. For the next 21 years, Sedco was one of the most active American companies in all of Iran. Founded by Clements in 1947, Sedco was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the offshore oil boom that began after World War II and has continued right up to the present day. Clements was able to parlay a pair of used drilling rigs he’d purchased in Mississippi, into a world-wide drilling company. He got rich on his operations in Iran, the North Sea, and elsewhere: in a little more than two decades, Clements’s stake in Sedco was worth $100 million. Not surprisingly, that money made him popular with politicians. In 1964 he was George Bush’s biggest financial backer. In 1968 Clements headed Nixon’s fundraising effort in Dallas County. Thanks to work by Clements and others, Nixon nearly won Texas in 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7/2 /04
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