Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. John D. Jernegan of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs

Participants: Brigadier General A. C. Wedemeyer, Chief, Strategy and Political Group, Operations Division, War Department.
Brigadier General Patrick H. Tansey, Chief, Logistics Group, Operations Division, War Department
Mr. Murray
Mr. Parker74
Mr. Jernegan

Mr. Murray said that he would like to mention in passing certain aspects of the situation in Iran.

He referred to reports which the Department had received indicating that relations with the Soviet authorities in Azerbaijan were very unsatisfactory. Among other things, the Soviets had forced the departure of Mr. Vivian, the American Food Administrator in that region, and had for practical purposes forced us to replace our Consul at Tabriz. Members of the Russian forces had adopted a derogatory attitude towards Americans and Soviet officials had made unjustifiable complaints against the conduct and work of American soldiers stationed in Azerbaijan.

The Soviet Government some time ago had forced the Iranian Government to sign an agreement to supply the Russians with 20,000 tons of grain for Azerbaijan. After pressing insistently for the delivery of this quantity, which had been found to be impossible, the Russians had suddenly announced that they would send 25,000 tons of wheat from Russia to feed the civilian population of Tehran. In view of their past activities in attempting to withdraw grain from Iran, this sudden move would appear to be an obvious political maneuver intended to strengthen the Soviet hold over the Iranian Government. It was particularly striking because the United States was making large shipments of flour to Russia under lend-lease.

Mr. Murray went on to say that he thought General Wedemeyer would be interested in the general policy of the Department towards Iran as it was expressed in a memorandum prepared in the Division of Near Eastern Affairs. A copy of this memorandum, “American Policy in Iran”, dated January 23, 1943,75 was left with General Wedemeyer [Page 363] and he was informed that officers of the Department would be glad to discuss its contents with him at any time.

As evidence of the need for an active American policy in Iran, Mr. Murray spoke of the long-standing Iranian dislike of the British, which was a historical fact that could not be ignored, and the contrasting Iranian friendship for the United States. Mr. Murray said that we had had certain indications recently that the American Military Commander in Iran, General Connolly, did not fully appreciate the importance of maintaining the Iranian economy, particularly the food supply, in connection with the carrying out of his own operations for the movement of supplies to the Soviet Union. It seemed that General Connolly might not be cooperating fully with the various American civilian authorities and advisers in Iran. However, the Department did not yet have full information and it was desired merely to indicate that the question of such cooperation might be raised at a later date.

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  1. William L. Parker of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs.
  2. Ante, p. 331.