136. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1

1765. On occasion Iran break in diplomatic relations with United Kingdom,2 following general estimate Iran situation made by Embassy, Svc Attachés and CAS:

1. General: Events since accession second Mosadeq NF government have impressed us with fact that political and social revolution in progress here. We believe it improbable, except under aegis dictatorship, that former Iran ruling class will have power name any future government. Varied political factors remain highly volatile, with Tudeh Party still only predictable factor. This very certainty in face deteriorating Iran conditions and crumbling internal institutions makes Tudeh (Commie) Party formidable danger. Present government for all practical purposes continues along same road as Tudeh and has thus far failed take any serious action against Tudeh. Should trend continue, duration of which we cannot estimate, it possible that there would be no dramatic moment or precise date which would signalize Iran Government had reached point of no return, had become pro-Tudeh regime or that Tudeh had become dominant political influence. Unexpected developments could of course radically change political picture, but we have no current evidence other than facts herein. These point in only one direction.

2. National Front: As ruling coalition, Front outside its ranks faces organized challenge only in Tudeh Party. Other political opposition has been effectively disrupted, cowed, or has joined Front. Majlis remains in its unrelaxed grip and government apparently intends it be mere echo. This position strength we consider transitory, since internal coalition rivalries may be expected develop to point of schism. If Mosadeq should disappear from political scene, result would probably be still weaker government. There not believed any recognized NF leader with prestige sufficient replace Mosadeq and keep in check personal ambitions other NF chiefs. For moment, Mosadeq, apparently with Fatemi as chief adviser, has temporarily rebuffed Kashani’s intrigues by repressive measures against so called General Zahedi plot and thru [Page 386] striking action in breaking relations with U.K. There is real division within Front over feasibility internal reforms on basis oilless economy and no Front leader can answer how miracle can be accomplished. This looms as possible future cause of dissension. However in view broad political base of coalition there are some influential elements of Front which appear be demonstrating increased awareness of dangers inherent in any attempted short term coop with Tudeh. Their strength and real capacity cannot as yet be practically assessed, altho believed presently inadequate for meeting this formidable challenge effectively.

3. Shah: His prestige and symbolic value declining and he under complete control of Mosadeq. As political balance of power factor, Shah being eliminated. This strikingly illustrated by recent government inspired action dissolving Senate, which once stronghold of Shah’s influence. Shah has successively alienated groups of supporters thru course he had followed so that one embittered Senator has called him “most dangerous man in Iran”. While armed forces still ostensibly loyal to him, time and NF administration will progressively weaken this tie. We believe Front considers him useful as symbol so long as he concurs with their purposes.

4. Landowners and Merchants: No organized nor unified opposition to Front found in these elements and constructive leadership conspicuously lacking. Such persons appear be thinking only of today and what personal accommodation may be necessary to events of tomorrow. There little idea of seeking to influence such events. We remark growing tendency for these elements to think in terms of Front today and Tudeh tomorrow.

5. Peasants: Effective mullah and Tudeh agitation has helped increase peasant unrest. This has shown itself in violent outbreaks of peasants against landlords. Resentments over division share of annual product and tendency some areas for peasants try claim land as own have been heightened by confusion over government’s agrarian reform intentions.

6. Labor: Trade Union movement divided seriously, with further divisions expected, so that Commie Central United Council Trade Unions (CUCTU) presently has dominant position. Labor Minister has been unable stem trend. Within Front, Baghai’s anti Commie Workers Party has split, while new trade union projected by Under Secretary Labor expected have little success. CUCTU only labor organization efficiently run, possessing zeal and with available funds. Recently CUCTU overcame long ministry opposition and secured legal registration Commie dominated Telephone and Telegraph Workers Union.

7. Religious Influences: Altho religious elements of extremist character appear be gaining influence in political and social affairs of country, they thus far provide no real reason believe they would be [Page 387] practical obstruction to Tudeh control or that they could not be manipulated by Commies. Conservative intellectual leaders being neutralized by demagogic types such as Kashani, who, despite any conflicting statements, we consider not averse coop with Tudeh if in immediate interests.

8. State Administration: Government thus far unable stem disorganization state administration and unwilling attempt curb its infiltration by Tudeh. Education Ministry reportedly dominated by Tudeh sympathizers with resultant strong effect on teachers and students. Tehran University and various medical and professional faculties elsewhere have effective Tudeh organizations. Justice Ministry strongly infiltrated by Tudeh and this partially reflected in measures adopted toward arrested party members. Posts and Tel Ministries infiltrated and Tudeh organized, particularly radio facilities, which reportedly used for party communications and possibly would figure in sabotaged plans if required. Other ministries altho less infiltrated have Tudeh or subsidiary cells. Significantly, Int Ministry as direct arm of government shows less Tudeh influence altho police thru bribes known to temper conduct toward Tudeh and to give information party requests.

9. Armed Forces: Mosadeq apparently believes he can control armed forces and that their existence under such control essential to maintenance his regime. He arranged series arbitrary shifts among senior officers for political reasons, notably in general staff with appointment Chief of Staff Baharmast. He further reduced possibility military coup by decentralizing command of Tehran garrison. Prime Minister avoids serious damage morale by still resisting pressure to punish certain officers for attempts maintain order at time July riots.

However mediocre Chief Staff, combined with new political influences, undoubtedly has bisected potential capabilities of armed forces thruout country. Local commanders with weakened direction from Tehran may find themselves under greater local political pressure and tend be more inactive. While air force remains only major military organization in Tehran area retaining identity, it deteriorating in effectiveness. If General Staff does not provide air force with added funds within next few months it expected cease exist as operational force. Reports from ranking officers show Tudeh agitators in provinces attempting indoctrinate youths subject to conscription.

There appears little chance in view lack leadership for armed forces be employed in military coup against government. In fact, as Shah’s position declines, forces may be expected veer toward Front and not oppose government of day. Hence forces could even be source of support for some subsequent pro Tudeh government, if political transition proceeds as current tendency indicates.

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10. Tribes: It axiomatic in Iran as government authority wanes tribes become restive. Responsible reports show Kurds at moment most dissatisfied of all in view neglect by central government and dissatisfied by chiefs over recent and proposed land reforms. From south reports being received of Qashqai and Bakhti arms collection and growing political intrigues. Tribes would be important factor in any countrywide unrest.

11. Tudeh: Membership figures of little value in appraising party’s potential since this primarily determined by vital fact party unquestionably well organized and disciplined in contrast other political factors in country. As only organized rival to Front, altho technically illegal party, it carries ever increasing potential to gain leadership. Its activity currently has little effective hindrance from government; party operates thru numerous subsidiary organizations which blend into clandestine party components. Its activities in various strata Iran society have been discussed. In event present government disintegrates and Tudeh believes it in position cope with any opposition forces remaining, party prepared telescope long term objective of securing Iran into immediate effort. We believe general internal conditions could determine timing for this altho staged transition thru pro Tudeh government and thence to outright Tudeh control appears more likely.

12. Foreign Relations: Significance for U.S. of Iran’s break in diplomatic relations with U.K. lies in fact U.S. for all practical purposes sole bulwark West influence in Iran. U.S. with departure British also looms as logical target for right and left extremists. This might encourage USSR play more open role than in past. Latter has been content maintain silent, ostensibly passive political role while conditions work in its favor. However USSR may resort to diplomatic pressure in endeavor reduce U.S. influence and prestige and at same time to strengthen Soviet position. USSR might, for instance, insist on elimination all U.S. officials from north Iran. At same time it could contrive to keep Soviet technicians and sales organization in Iran Caspian fisheries.

National Front concept of foreign relations as neutralism between West and East blocs expected be reflected in further government acts. Government may consider U.S. military missions presently here as incompatible with this concept. Trend toward further restricting official U.S. travel in country may be strengthened. Extremists may be expected encourage impatience and hostility toward U.S., both as scapegoat for internal governmental failures and as withholder of massive financial and economic aid to which most Iranians believe Iran entitled.

We believe Front’s intransigence toward foreigners has reached state that, if large financial and economic aid accorded Iran (and it desperately needs such assistance) government would be inclined depict such aid as its due. However, there basic if unreasoned hope that U.S. [Page 389] will in some manner provide political support and economic assistance which will enable Iran cope with its internal problems.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 84, London Embassy Files, Lot 59 F 59, classified general records, Box 274. Secret; Security Information. Received at 6:21 p.m. Repeated to London and pouched to Moscow, Ankara, Baghdad, Kabul, Karachi, Cairo, Beirut, Damascus, Amman, Tel Aviv, Jidda, Dhahran, Rome for Unger, Isfahan, Meshed, and Tabriz.
  2. Iran severed diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom on October 22.