112. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1
514. Estimate Iranian situation follows (Deptel 255 Jul 29):2
(1) Natl Front
As result Natl Front victory thru return Mosadeq to power, past opponents of Front, such as landowners, Royal Court, moderate clergy and moderate intellectuals, currently unable to resist any policies coalition may propose. Prestige leaders such as Mosadeq and Kashani higher than ever before. Kashani and extremist faction he represents will probably have greater influence in future on Front policy. On basis unquestioned control of Majlis, Govt can secure needed emergency fin and econ powers which will permit it to find funds needed by state admin for number mos to come.
Natl Front succeeded in overcoming Qavam because among reasons: A) Qavam had no organization with which to oppose on streets well-organized and disciplined groups of Tudeh and Natl Front, which were terrorizing city, except police and Army, and Shah wld not per-mit these law enforcement agencies to go all out to maintain order. [Page 311]B) Qavam had no agitators to harangue population and, except for use limited facilities Radio Tehran, had no means of spreading propaganda favorable to his cause. Opponents in control of street terrorized any newspaper or person who might be suspected of favoring him. Natl Front had public leaders like Kashani, who used press, mosques, Parliament bldg, and loud speakers to agitate against Govt. C) Natl Front leaders had rec’d assurances from Shah he wld not permit law enforcement agencies to be used against them; they had well-organized plans for stirring up population; they were confident of their position, whereas Qavam, unaware of secret pledges made by Shah, was alternatively passively awaiting Shah’s authorization or trying to persuade Shah to permit law enforcement agencies to clear streets, restore order, and arrest those inciting to violence. D) Natl Front, thru its various agitation channels, reinforced by Tudeh, was able to convince most of public in Tehran that Qavam was agent of Western imperialism.
Notwithstanding dramatic manner in which it regained power and its seeming solidarity, Natl Front by no means monolithic. Varied political views and personal ambitions of its leaders bode trouble for its future. Mosadeq himself is neurotic and periodically unstable. His decisions are not accepted passively by other leaders. Frequently, in order maintain unity he is obliged against his own wishes or judgment to yield to pressures other leaders’ coalition, particularly Kashani. Kashani not fully satisfied with his present already powerful position and is clearly trying undermine influence other rival leaders and make himself complete master of Natl Front and Iran. In his efforts strengthen his own organization he accepts in it Communist activists, confident he can handle them. It looks as tho he intends eventually effect replacement of Mosadeq, whom he finds too popular and at same time stubborn, with more pliable, less appealing PriMin such as Dep PriMin Kazemi. Maki, altho personally popular, has no organization of street fighters except possibly in Abadan. Bagai has effective group street fighters within his Workers Party but lacks intelligence and popular appeal. Iran Party is Tudeh infiltrated. Some its most influential mbrs favorable toward and cooperating with Tudeh. In case circumstances shld make it appear momentarily advantageous to them, right and left extremists of Front wld probably not hesitate to force Front again into coalition with Tudeh. Front is faced by same econ deterioration of country with which it attempted to deal during first term of office. Now that it in effective control of country, Front may dare present more clear internal program but will encounter great difficulties in maintaining unity in carrying out any constructive reforms because of varying objectives its leaders. Furthermore, it cannot succeed in improving economic and social conditions country without external moral and material support.[Page 312]
(2) The Shah
For immediate future Shah virtual prisoner of Natl Front. His public prestige seriously lowered as result indecisiveness he displayed during recent turbulent period. Control armed forces, which have been source his authority, being transferred to Natl Front thru Mosadeq as Min Natl Defense. Altho for time Front may need Shah as symbol, it not impossible that as extremists gain further control Front he will be discarded. Shah does still have certain symbolic standing with public thruout country and Army. For this reason elimination of Shah must be one of Tudeh’s most immediate objectives.
(3) The Armed Forces
Discipline and morale lower echelons armed forces thruout country not known but not believed greatly impaired. Recent events created uncertainties in higher levels, which do not know what Mosadeq, who has never been friendly to Army, will do. There still considerable sentiment among general officers that only Shah can prevent Army from becoming prey to politicians. Altho possibility mil coup may not be completely dismissed, it not likely. No mil leaders in sight possessing necessary organizational ability, intelligence and strength. Coup by Army and later accretion public support might require tacit assent of Shah, who wld probably take fright at very idea of coup. Both Natl Front and Tudeh are concerned about Army as source potential trouble to them. Mosadeq taking steps place his adherents in key positions, such as Chief of Staff, Chief of Gendarmérie, and Chief of Police. He intends on grounds economy reduce Army in size, eliminate many genl officers and select for key positions younger men who will look to Natl Front for support. In order prevent Army from resisting these changes Natl Front endeavoring break down its unity by creating suspicion and friction between senior and junior officers. Tudeh, which naturally desires weak Army, is also trying weaken Army’s unity and agitating for its reduction.
Tudeh has fully exploited recent events. Since many of its immediate internal aims parallel generally those of Front, Tudeh will continue strong efforts to acquire some working arrangement with Front and to infiltrate latter on broader scale than in past. Present offers better opportunity than previously for Tudeh infiltration state administration and armed forces. Party believed fully prepared exploit Natl Front future difficulties, hesitancies and future dissensions.
Tudeh activists, with their superior training, were important factor during recent street demonstrations against Qavam. It is not believed, however, Tudeh was prepared at that time to make bid for power. It wld appear Tudeh preferred strengthen itself, weaken authority security forces, and further penetrate natl movement before openly chal[Page 313]lenging Natl Front. Tudeh probably wld be reluctant try take over until it convinced that risks wld be small. It will not desire take action which might lead to destruction of party structure which has been created with great difficulty. However, if it shld appear there is cessation of internal deterioration or that economic and social situation of country is beginning to improve, Tudeh may, without further delay, try seize power even tho it incurs risks in so doing. Tudeh of course acting under instructions Moscow which undoubtedly takes world as well as Iranian situation into consideration when issuing orders.
(5) Possible developments provided no changes in US and UK policies re Iran
Most Natl Front leaders are coming to opinion US is supporting basic UK policies re Iran. US judge’s vote for Brit position at Hague Court and willingness US to deal with Qavam have strengthened this view. As Front encounters increased difficulties in carrying out its econ and social policies there will be increased tendencies to blame West, particularly US, for all of Iran’s ills. Tudeh will of course do its utmost to exploit anti-Western prejudices and disappointment of Iranians at failure US to render financial or massive econ aid. Mosadeq may at any time request withdrawal of US mil missions. As resentment against US increases there may be progressive harassment of Pt 4 activities. If mil missions depart Tudeh will probably turn more attention to Pt 4. There will be tendency to take measures against US institutions and natls similar to those already taken against Brits. As agitation against West increases Iranians with Western background and sympathies will be compelled to hide their real feelings or be gradually eliminated from public life. During immediate future natl extremists will preach neutrality in cold war and support efforts form third force bloc of states Middle East. Nationalists may realize that they are leading Iran into Communist camp in time to shift their policies and rally country against Tudeh infiltration and Soviet pressures. It is more likely, however, this realization would come too late.
(6) Possible developments provided there certain changes in US and UK policies re Iran
It is possible that certain changes in policies on part US and UK might result in reversal of trend of events in Iran. Such changes might include (a) decision on part UK to come oil settlement on basis which wld be acceptable not only to Iran Govt but to Iranian people; (b) decision on part US to extend fin aid to Iran to tide it over present crisis and also to accord significant aid for economic development. It may be however that such shifts in policies will not be successful in saving Iran. Antagonism toward West tinged with jealousy is so deep among articulate natl and religious extremists that most conciliatory and friendly gestures on part West may not be able to prevent Iran from [Page 314]proceeding along its suicidal course. Furthermore, even if, as result of future developments, including shifts in policies of UK and US, Mosadeq shld personally become convinced that energies shld be concentrated on saving country from internatl communism rather than on attacks upon West, there no guarantee that he might not at any time become incapacitated by illness or assassination. Elimination Mosadeq likely result in struggle for power among various elements of Front which wld give Tudeh chance further to strengthen self at Front’s expense.
(7) Copy of above has been given to Brit Emb which in general agreement altho Middleton says there may be certain minor differences of emphasis.
- Source: National Archives, RG 84, Tehran Embassy Files, 1950–1952, classified general records, Box 29, Iran—July through December 1952. Secret; Security Information. Drafted by Melbourne and Henderson. Repeated to London. The telegram is the Embassy copy as approved and has no time of transmission.↩
- Document 103.↩