295. Memorandum From Acting Director of Central Intelligence Cabell to President Eisenhower1

Comment on the Iranian situation:

An unexpected strong upsurge of popular and military reaction to Prime Minister Mossadeq’s government has resulted according to late dispatches from Teheran in the virtual occupation of that city by forces proclaiming their loyalty to the Shah, and to his appointed Prime Minister Zahedi.

Mossadeq and his chief of staff Riahi were reported still ensconced in their respective headquarters but cut off from communications which are in control of the royalist forces. The city appeared to be generally under control of royalist forces although some Mossadeq supporters here reportedly still on the streets. The royalists in Teheran were using the communications systems to urge the people and the army to rise to the support of the Shah.

The strategic province of Azerbaijan according to radio dispatches originating from Tabriz is held by royalists but Isfahan radio some two hundred miles south of Tehran has in a single brief announcement proclaimed itself loyal to Mossadeq.

In this confused situation it appears that the tone and content of the communiqués is definitely anti-communist. Tudeh overt activity [Page 707] has been almost non-existing during the past critical hours. Should the royalists manage to take over, Tudeh will be their strongest and most violent opponent.

Our sources have confirmed press and radio reports that pro-royalist forces appear in control of city of Teheran and that Zahedi has returned to city where he broadcast proclamations to the people promising a program of economic and social reforms. Our sources report huge crowds in streets of Teheran calling return of the Shah.

C.P. Cabell
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Iran, 1953–58(8), Box 32. Secret. At the end of the memorandum is a handwritten note that reads: “DDE has seen 8/21/53—ACW.” Also printed in Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, 1951–1954, pp. 755–756 (Document 349).