891.51A/518: Telegram

The Minister in Iran ( Dreyfus ) to the Secretary of State

66. Following reply to Department’s 55, March 4.95

Economically Iran is suffering from loss of European markets, inability to secure shipping space for exports, disruption of internal life due to invasion and difficulty in obtaining much needed goods such as wheat, sugar, cotton goods, automotive products, tires, and medicines. A memorandum setting forth Iran’s needs was handed Mr. Bullitt96 by Minister of Finance. Financially Iran’s position is fairly good for although revenues have fallen, British are bringing in almost a million pounds a month. Rial has strengthened and further increase in value is contemplated.
Politically present confused and unsatisfactory situation derives from violent change from dictatorial to democratic government for which country was ill-prepared and from popular reaction to virtual occupation of country by two powers regarded as hostile. It is easy, however, to exaggerate seriousness of political situation. I do not believe it is getting out of hand, that there is danger of breakdown in administration or that internal security has deteriorated to point where our lifeline to Russia is threatened. On contrary there are some hopeful signs as indicated in my number 65, March 12.97 There are in Iran few persons of integrity and proven reliability to which Department refers. The few such as Foroughi, Ala, Mossadeq, and Pirnia either are not available or refuse Cabinet positions. The political situation in my opinion gives no immediate cause for alarm unless, of course, the threatened Axis thrust toward Middle East materializes.
British position. British prestige already low when Iran was invaded has declined further. Factors which contributed to this included: Their unsuccessful war effort; interference in Iranian politics; pressure on Iran to sign an unwanted treaty; establishment through UKCC98 of virtual monopoly over Iranian trade and such acts as removing from Tehran radio station to Egypt a transmitting [Page 228] set badly needed here. British are now trying to prevent Iranians from altering rial value upwards. British so think in Tehran that they could hardly be trusted to support officials merely because their appointment would be good for Iran. For example, they supported reactionary Tadayyon when we were interested in seeing him out of Cabinet. British bid for American support in Iran may well be an attempt to bolster their own declining prestige.
American position. American prestige in Iran is very high. Our aims should be first a short range objective of using Iran’s strategic position for prosecution of war which aim nothing should be permitted to thwart and, second, maintenance of our high prestige for constructive use in postwar period. I have in informal conversations with leading Iranian officials expressed desire of my Government to see officials of integrity and ability appointed to high positions. It is perhaps not by chance that three objectionable persons were removed from Cabinet and that not a single highly undesirable one is in present Cabinet. I have taken up with Department Iranian desire to obtain police and education advisers. I discussed with Foroughi99 and am discussing with Soheily1 obtention of finance and relief experts. Iranians can hardly be expected to cooperate fully and voluntarily with two powers regarded with suspicion and distrust and if they are to be converted from passive appendage to willing partner it will be only through American sympathy and assistance.
Conclusion. I recommend we give Iran our sympathetic support in this hour of need and furnish where possible the goods and advisers requested. I advise that any action suggesting force or open interference in internal affairs be avoided unless necessary for war effort. I recommend that we avoid if possible joining British in representations for fear we thereby lower our own prestige and share to some extent the historic onus which is certain to attach to British action in Iran. We must of course continue close collaboration and friendly relations with British officials in Iran in matters connected with war effort.
  1. See footnote 94, p. 224.
  2. William C. Bullitt, on special mission in the Near East; see footnote 14, p. 10.
  3. Not printed.
  4. United Kingdom Commercial Corporation.
  5. Mohammed Ali Foroughi, Iranian Prime Minister, August 28, 1941–March 7, 1942.
  6. Ali Soheily, Iranian Prime Minister.