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

4356. 1. In considering various policy problems re Iran Department may be interested brief evaluation by Embassy present position Mosadeq. Although at present Court appears to be weakening in struggle with Mosadeq and opposition in Majlis unable mobilize its resources effectively against him Mosadeq’s position is certainly weaker than it was before he undertook struggle against Shah last February.

2. Appointment Amini Acting Minister Court as successor Ala generally regarded here as victory for Mosadeq. Since his appointment Amini has been intermediating between Mosadeq and Shah and has been issuing number conciliatory and optimistical though at times conflicting statements re progress in achieving understanding between Mosadeq and Court. Doubt exists however that Amini really working in interest either Mosadeq or Shah. Objectives powerful Kajar–Amini family not (repeat not) entirely clear but activities Amini may eventually serve further to weaken position Mosadeq without strengthening Shah.

3. Although opposition in Majlis has not (repeat not) been able take effective offensive it has not (repeat not) been dispersed and continues through guerrilla tactics to prevent Majlis from having quorum and government from engaging in constructive activities. Even if, as is being optimistically predicted in pro-government circles, Majlis may be able meet within next few days there is justified doubt that it can take action of character which will appreciably strengthen Mosadeq’s position. For instance unless some surprise event should take place government may encounter extreme difficulty in depriving Baqai of Parliamentary immunity. Government failure in this respect will reflect on its strength following official announcement charging Baqai with complicity murder police chief Afshartus. Government will also face stubborn opposition in attempting obtain unqualified Majlis approval Committee of Eight report substitute measure limiting Shah’s powers. Fact that General Zahedi is being given in general sympathetic reception by mass Majlis during his present period of asylum there indicates decline in prestige and authority Mosadeq in Majlis.

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4. During last six months there has been sharp shift in basis Mosadeq support among political leaders. Most elements original National movement now (repeat now) in open or tacit opposition. Indications friction appearing between him and Iran Party one of last National movement elements which still supports him. Mosadeq’s support now (repeat now) appears largely to rest on security forces which he tells me he does not (repeat not) trust, government bureaucracy including newly appointed governors general whose loyalty untested, government monopoly of radio and variety groups and individuals with widely divergent interests such as Qashqai Khans and some prominent Kajar and merchant families. When it serves party’s interests Tudeh also rallies to his support in times of strain. His most important strength still is his great reputation as Nationalist leader struggling free Iran from foreign control. Also fact that for two years he has been Prime Minister gives him certain prestige among rank and file. Nevertheless his failure solve oil problem by way economy advantageous Iran, economic deterioration of country, his frequent use of mass demonstrations in order bring pressure on opposition, his inability obtain cooperation outstanding political leaders country, and his resort military law maintain order have served weaken his popularity even among masses.

5. Mosadeq still however, outstanding political figure Iran. His opponents thus far have not (repeat not) shown courage and spirit unity necessary seriously to threaten him. Most dangerous threat which we can see at present moment is that coming from Amini group working from within. This group would require exceptional skill however, if it to succeed overthrow Mosadeq either by peaceful methods or by force. Zahedi has to [some?] extent retrieved position taking refuge in Majlis and by presenting his case individually to Majlis leaders and press. Zahedi thus far however, has not (repeat not) been able obtain support Shah which he has considered essential his success. Moazami only deputy who in past has frequently contrived make himself middle of road compromise candidate for office now being discussed certain circles as possible successor Mosadeq who would be acceptable to National movement as well as various opponents that movement. He may eventually become real threat. Shah fears and respects him allegedly because Shah considers him underground agent for Brit.

Henderson
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.00/5–853. Secret; Security Information; Priority. Repeated to London. Received at 6:11 p.m. The telegram is printed with redactions in Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, 1951–1954, pp. 726–727 (Document 325).