123. Memorandum for the Record by Donald Wilber of the Iran Branch, Near East and Africa Division, Directorate of Plans, Central Intelligence Agency1

1. Let me get the negative comments out of the way first.2 As follows, they are so numerous and important as to cast serious doubt on the practicality of the program:

a. Shah’s reaction to proposals that he be built up and that he eventually take some decisive steps.

The Shah’s record for indecision, then deciding to take a positive stand and at the last minute failing to go thru with it, has a stronger impact to observers in the field than those here. I believe the field feels that he cannot be counted on in any positive way. If headquarters agrees with this position then the program is out before it is started.

b. Assumption that eventually Iran and the U.K. will reach an agreement on the oil issue.

Your program requires this assumption and I wonder if this is correct. Will there ever be a negotiated solution? Will not Iran simply make an arrangement with Jones or others and not really care whether any solution is reached?

c. Assumption that the Army may be used in support of the Shah’s efforts or in an actual coup.

Certainly up to a few months ago there were highly placed elements in the Army who would support the Shah and—given the opportunity—oppose extreme nationalism. These were largely generals who had been the mainstay of the Army under Razmara and who had been removed from their positions after his murder. However, although we seem to lack the facts, it is most probable that the current [Page 356] Mossadeq purge of the Army will get rid of all of them. And in addition, the known pro-British officers. This being the case, who will be left to contact or influence?

2. Positive approach.

I don’t believe the program to support the Shah will work. What then do we do?

Assume, first of all, that Mossadeq is mortal. That a heart attack, or his own decision to retire, or a shift in popular sentiment will remove him from power within a year at the most. Who takes his place? We have to consider several possibilities:

a. Some figure conspicuous in his entourage, such as Saleh, Baghai, Makki, etc.

b. Kashani

c. An old line politician

d. A conservative collaborator of Mossadeq.

Which possibility is most likely? Not a. for no one of the entourage has personal following and political astuteness to follow Mossadeq. Probably not b. as he is thoroughly hated and distrusted by elements whose support he would have to have. Not c., following fiasco of Qavam. Probably d. with Kasemi most likely successor.

It is possible that key to future lies in position taken by Iran party which I believe to be much more powerful than is realized here. The key to Iran party is Allahyer Saleh and the treatment given to him in Washington may well determine the future of the Government of Iran. I believe we should know whether State has a firm and consistent line of approach to Saleh. If not, we should take a hand in drafting one and should also attempt to find out what he believes will be the course of events in replacing Mossadeq.

This proposal does not take us very far nor is it a concrete plan for action, but all the paper plans made to date seem to me much too ambitious. We should realize we cannot effect immediate solutions to anything and try to build more firmly and slowly.

Don Wilber3
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Intelligence, Job 80B01676R, Box 41, Folder 20, Shah of Iran Operations. Secret; Security Information.
  2. Wilber is commenting on Document 122.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.