891.00/11–2045: Telegram

The Ambassador in Iran (Murray) to the Secretary of State

965. Communications difficulties plus unreliability of even official Iranians as factual reporters make it impossible for Embassy to vouch for absolute accuracy of reports forwarded my telegrams 959 and 961, November 19. Nevertheless situation in Azerbaijan is unquestionably serious and may constitute open rebellion which is what it is now termed by Tehran press. There is no question that telegraph communication with Tabriz is cut and it seems definitely established that an uprising has occurred in Mianeh whatever may be facts regarding events in other towns.

Although Russian Chargé and Military Attaché plead ignorance it is obvious that Soviets hold key to situation and could easily put stop to all disturbances either by using their own troops or by permitting free movement of Iranian forces. One test will come when and if Iranian column from Tehran reaches Qazvin first main Russian garrison post on road to Tabriz.

However, no one here expects Soviet assistance in restoring order will be forthcoming. On contrary universal moral opinion is that Soviets are directly responsible for actions of Democratic Party Azerbaijan and there is great body of evidence to sustain this view.

Whatever the facts of Russian implication or innocence in present affair I want once more to call strongly to Dept’s attention grave danger presented by continued presence in Iran of Soviet troops, (mytel 768, September 25). Even when they do not interfere directly in internal affairs their mere existence in force constitutes powerful moral support for all dissatisfied elements in northern provinces and serious determent to Govt agencies in performing their duties.

I should like to renew urgently my recommendation that Russians (and British also) be asked to withdraw entirely from Iran at once. If Russians decline I think they should be called upon in plainest terms to show cause for remaining in the absence of any military necessity whatever. One argument which they might raise, namely that presence their forces is necessary to maintain order, is completely false. It is clear enough now that they promote rather than prevent disorder. I feel we should also be prepared to reject out of hand any contention that Russia must maintain forces in Iran to check “Fascist” Tehran Govt. Apart from fact Persian Conservatives are far cry from German Nazis it is inadmissible that USSR should be arbiter of internal politics of independent members United Nations especially since Iran was neither an enemy nor a theater of enemy operations.

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Secondarily I think we should ask Russians why they consistently interfere with operations of Iranian security forces even to extent of forcing release of persons arrested for offences against public order. There is no question that this interference is constant and serious and in most cases it does not have even the nominal justification that security of Soviet troops might be involved.

As I envisage it we should take our stand on ground that conditions created in Iran by Soviet occupation are cause of international discord which is automatically of concern to all United Nations and which is of particular concern to US because we are signatory of Tehran Declaration. Technical interpretations of tripartite treaty and special agreement between Bevin and Molotov44 on date of withdrawal of troops should be overridden by higher considerations of world interest plus ordinary logic and justice.

Sent Dept as 965, repeated Moscow 276, London 82.

  1. See pp. 413416.