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

No. 292

Sir: I have the honor to report that the officers in charge of the American military mission working with the Iranian Gendarmerie have recently brought to my attention certain incidents which they feel represent serious obstacles in the carrying out of the mission’s work.

From the point of view of the mission’s own program, the most serious of these incidents are those involving interference by Iranian politicians, for purely political reasons, in the operation of the Gendarmerie.

[Here follow details of such interference.]

Another form of interference with the work of the mission, and one which is more serious from the international standpoint, comes [Page 528] from the Soviet authorities. As the Department knows, the American officers of the mission have always had difficulty in obtaining Russian permission to visit the areas of Iran in which the Soviets exercise security control. In addition, the Russians have repeatedly interfered with Iranian officers of the Gendarmerie in those areas and have obstructed the movement of Gendarme units. Three incidents which occurred in the past two months have been reported to me:

A company composed of five officers and one hundred and forty gendarmes was ordered to Sari, in Mazanderan, for special work. The detachment, traveling by truck, was halted at Firuzkuh by Russian soldiers and delayed three hours. From that point it was accompanied by a Russian officer to Shirgah (not far short of Sari) where it was detained until a report could be made to the Soviet commander at Shahi. The following day at noon, after the convoy had been held at Shirgah for more than twenty hours, a Soviet lieutenant ordered it to leave for Tehran within five minutes.
The commander of the Gendarme regiment at Rezaieh, Lieutenant Colonel Kemal, who is considered one of the best officers of the force, was a spectator at a New Year’s celebration and parade in Tabriz. After the parade, the Soviet General commanding in Tabriz told the district Gendarme commander that Colonel Kemal had made a demonstration while the parade was passing, that he considered him a pro-Hitler fascist, and demanded that he be removed at once from the area. After discussing the matter with the Iranian Governor General, the district commander ordered Colonel Kemal to Tehran.
The commander of the third district, which includes Mazanderan, was ordered to proceed from Tehran to Mazanderan to look into a bad security and administrative situation. This officer, a brigadier general, was stopped by the Soviet post at Firuzkuh on May 5 and was only allowed to proceed late the following day after the chief of staff of the Gendarmerie had interceded with the Soviet military attaché in Tehran.

The foregoing, of course, does not exhaust the list of incidents of this kind. The Department will recall the affair at Shahi reported in my telegram No. 6 of January 474 and despatch No. 171 of January 5, 1945,75 “Reported Soviet Interference with Iranian Gendarmes at Shahi.”

Although prepared to intervene whenever it seems proper, the Embassy has taken no action with respect to the difficulties experienced with the Soviet authorities, primarily because the Iranian Government apparently prefers to overlook them and has not desired our intervention. It is apparent, however, that arbitrary Russian interference [Page 529] with the activities of Iranian security forces is, in effect, a negation of Iranian sovereignty over a substantial part of the country and violates the spirit, at least, of the Anglo-Soviet-Iranian Treaty of 1942. It is also to some extent an affront to the American mission which directs the Gendarmerie and an obstacle to the work of that mission.

So far as purely Iranian political interference is concerned, I have not judged the moment ripe as yet for any démarche on the part of the Embassy. However, if the case of the district commander of Kerman should be reopened and another order for his removal issued, I feel the Embassy might well discuss it with the Prime Minister or Foreign Minister and point out that the American Government does not wish its officers to be used as political cat’s-paws and can find better uses for them elsewhere if they are not to be allowed to do their technical job in a technical, non-political, fashion.

[Here follows further discussion of political interference.]

Respectfully yours,

Leland Morris
  1. Ante, p. 359.
  2. Not printed, but see footnote 6, p. 360.