344. Despatch From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1

No. 263


  • Embassy Despatch No. 235, October 24, 19532


  • Government Anti-Tudeh Campaign and Tudeh Countermeasures


In its campaign against the Tudeh the Government continues to hold the upper hand. This was most recently demonstrated by the peaceful transition of the celebrations for the Shah’s birthday and the Sports Festival and by the Government’s announcement that it is aware of and will take measures against a planned Tudeh bazaar strike between November 6 and 11. A few arrests are still being made in the Ministries and in the Provinces, but in general the situation throughout the country is quiet. The Shah and the administration are encouraging the growth of quasi-military fascist-type groups as added insurance against the possibility of further Tudeh mob actions. Nevertheless, the Tudeh continues to attempt a minimal anti-Government campaign. The content of Party propaganda has changed little during the past month except to stress the contention that Mosadeq is the legal Prime Minister and to enlist public support in the campaign to gain his release.

Government Measures

Information based on Embassy, CAS and Armed Services Attaché sources indicates that the Government’s security forces are continuing their clean-up operations against the Party. General Dadsetan, Military Governor of Tehran, in a press interview on November 3, announced that, since August 19, 208 “Communist and anti-National” centers have been uncovered and 842 arrests have been made in Tehran alone. During the same period over 200,000 Tudeh leaflets were seized and [Page 825] caches of arms and explosives were uncovered and confiscated. According to a communiqué from the Ministry of Interior, released on the day before General Dadsetan’s interview, a total of 1375 Tudeh Party members were arrested in all of Iran during the Iranian month of Mehr (September 23–October 22). On November 4, the pro-Government newspaper, Etela’at, took cognizance of the Military Governor’s interview but pointed out that the authorities must distinguish between people duped by the Tudeh and those who have been active in furthering Tudeh aims, and called for Government efforts to insure employment for those elements in the population most susceptible to Tudeh propaganda.

General Dadsetan indicated that the Government is aware of the cooperation between the various pro-Mosadeq and Tudeh elements, although he did not specifically mention the new Tudeh-inspired National Resistance Movement. He did make the statement, however, that Hosein Fatemi, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Sanjabi, and Engineers Hasibi and Zirakzadeh were using the funds which they had accumulated illegally while serving under Dr. Mosadeq to further the cause of the Tudeh and allied pro-Mosadeq organizations.

The Military Governor’s office further demonstrated its efficiency during the week of the Shah’s birthday, when it was generally expected that the Tudeh would attempt to create difficulties. The actual birthday celebrations on October 26 were well guarded and orderly. The Sports Festival later in the same week was completely free of Tudeh activity. At the same time the security forces issued a communiqué notifying Tudeh members and sympathizers in several local factories that the Government was aware of their plans for sabotage. Additional guards have been stationed in the main power station, the Government silo, the oil depot, and in the Government distribution centers for bread, oil and electricity.

A number of correspondents have been invited by the General Staff, Iranian Army, to witness the execution in Resht of “a very dangerous member of the Tudeh Party in the North”, a certain Hadi Nazar Mohammadi. The General Staff communiqué noted that the prisoner had for some time been engaged in espionage activities for the Soviet Government and has been found guilty of acts of sabotage in factories in the northern provinces and of inciting the mobs on August 16 to overthrow the Shah’s statues. According to newspaper reports a Soviet spy called Alioff is also a target of Government security measures. Despite protests from the Soviet Embassy, the Government, armed with “conclusive proofs establishing the charges brought against this dangerous element”, plans to put him on trial in the near future.

Situation in the Ministries and in the Provinces

The situation within the various Ministries of Government appears to be quiet. The Ministry of Finance announced on October 25 [Page 826] that it was about to expel 150 employees who have been convicted of working with the Tudeh Party and that an equal number of questionable Ministry employees outside of Tehran would be placed on indefinite leave. The Iranian Army G–2, according to a reliable source, claimed on October 22 to have arrested a total of 60 officers and 250 non-commissioned officers to date. The non-commissioned officers have been summarily separated from the service, but the Army is in a quandary over the disposition of the more important commissioned detainees. G–2 is worried because the documentary proof of the complicity of these officers in the Tudeh Party is now mysteriously missing from the G–2 files, but the Army is very reluctant to release these men to civilian life where they would be able to carry on Party activities with perhaps greater facility. The Iranian G–2 stated recently that only a small proportion of Party members and sympathizers in the Army are known or have been apprehended.

There has been little change in the situation in the Provinces as regards Tudeh activities. Newspaper reports from Abadan note that 300 persons were arrested there recently on the charge of writing anti-Government slogans on walls in the city. Two hundred forty of these have since been freed, but 30 soldiers and sailors and 18 civilians were arrested and sent from Abadan to the prison at Falak-ol-Aflak. In this connection, the Government in Tehran issued a circular in late October to all provincial governors to notify them that any worker arrested by provincial authorities and later dismissed as innocent must be reinstated in his job.

In Tabriz the Consulate has noted little Tudeh activity during the past month. A few leaflets have been distributed, but on the whole it appears that the Party there is preoccupied as elsewhere in the country with its reorganization on a clandestine scale. The Consulate believes that the Government’s security campaign has not been as extensive or thorough in Azerbaijan as elsewhere in the country and thinks it probable that important and sizeable Tudeh elements still exist in the Province.

Anti-Tudeh Organizations

There are indications that within recent weeks the Shah and the Government have been encouraging the growth of quasi-military rightist parties to be used against the Tudeh in the event of further street demonstrations. Among these are the Sumka, the Arya, and the 28 Mordad Society. These organizations, particularly the Sumka which has been established longer than the other two, have all the trappings of a falange or fascist type of group, even to their black-shirted uniforms. The Sumka demonstrated its strength and discipline on the occasion of the recent Sports Festival, when approximately 500 of its members impressed the crowds at the Stadium with a show of [Page 827] swastika-bedecked banners carried in perfect marching order. These organizations enlist their members almost solely on the basis of intense anti-Tudeh feelings, and almost certainly receive their excellent financial backing from the Shah and the administration.

Tudeh Countermeasures

Perhaps the most significant aspect of Tudeh Party activity in recent weeks has been the dogged persistence with which the Party has attempted to carry on its anti-Government campaign. In a perusal of the total picture, it becomes apparent that the harm done the Party by the Government’s security measures, despite their relative effectiveness, has not discouraged nor prevented the remaining Tudeh leaders from making constant efforts to achieve at least limited objectives.

It would appear that the most important event during October was the formation of the so-called National Resistance Movement. The Tudeh has been working since before the fall of Mosadeq for the creation of a united front among pro-Mosadeq elements. In mid-October they were successful in organizing the National Resistance Movement from elements of the Iran Party, the Pan-Iranists, and the Third Force, as well as remnants of the National Movement. Cooperation among these diverse political units has been achieved by agreement on the single objective of obtaining the release of Dr. Mosadeq. Tudeh leaders are apparently satisfied with this degree of cooperation, but have urged the other parties participating in the Movement to review the possibility of further cooperation after the limited objective concerning Dr. Mosadeq has been realized.

Reportedly, the Movement has recently been strengthened by the receipt of a surreptitious message from Dr. Mosadeq in which the ex-Prime Minister gave his blessing to the joint effort. The leaders of the Movement, in conjunction with members of a pro-Mosadeq Bazaar Committee, are making plans for a one-day strike in the bazaar and downtown areas of Tehran sometime between November 6 and 11. General Dadsetan is aware of the project and, in his press interview on November 3, appealed to the people to collaborate with the security forces in frustrating this attempt at subversion.

Potentially, this threatened bazaar strike could cause the Government a great deal of embarrassment. The administration is entirely capable of dispersing any street demonstrations but the traditional bazaar method of closing all shops as part of the strike would be much more difficult to handle. Any heavy-handed security tactics might serve only to enlist on-the-fence or pro-Government merchants on the side of the National Resistance Movement. The situation could be further aggravated if the Government initiates its counter-measures only after the strike has begun.

[Page 828]

The Tudeh is said to have obtained the agreement of the other groups affiliated with it in the National Resistance Movement to manufacture and use crude bombs in a limited terrorist campaign. Money is being collected to pay for these bombs and also for the financial aspects of the “release Mosadeq” campaign. Although reports conflict concerning the success of the collections, it would appear that the Tudeh and the National Resistance Movement are having difficulties in accumulating the quantity of money needed for such an operation. The Tudeh is also attempting to collect enough capital to carry out its own objective of procuring the release of those Party members still held in custody. These releases are engineered, according to reports, not only by bribery but also by the payment of bail.

Current Tudeh Propaganda

Other Tudeh activities have been concerned primarily with the continuing dissemination of propaganda. Hand-printed leaflets are still distributed at strategic points in the city (one set of tracts was scattered on the street a block from the Embassy). Two weeks ago the anniversary edition of the Party newspaper Mardom appeared in Tehran and, at about the same time, a new magazine called Mosavar with a violently anti-American, pro-Soviet slant commenced publication. It would appear also that the Tudeh is responsible for a current rumor and whispering campaign against the United States in general and the Embassy in particular. One rumor insists, for example, that Ambassador Henderson is putting pressure on the Government to execute Dr. Mosadeq forthwith. Other rumors spread by the Tudeh and by its compatriots in the National Resistance Movement attempt to foster the belief that the British and Americans are following divergent policies in Iran.

The content of Tudeh propaganda since the August 19 change of administration has reflected the Party’s new status in the country. During recent weeks the persistent central theme has been a demand that Dr. Mosadeq be released, coupled with a constantly reiterated insistence that Mosadeq is the legal Prime Minister. In conjunction with this theme, the Party contends the present administration has usurped the power of government by means of an illegal and treasonable coup d’état. Tudeh propaganda also reflects the extent to which its nation-wide organization has been hit by the Government’s security measures. In a recent leaflet the Party complained almost petulantly that the Government had no right to decree such severe measures as the death penalty against “patriotic anti-imperialist combatants.”

In the few Party newspapers and magazines which have appeared recently, the favorite topic continues to be a series of accusations against the United States. Tudeh publications warned the local populace that the United States plans to make Iran a colony, that Iran is to be [Page 829] used by the United States and Great Britain as a base against the USSR, and the Americans have appointed themselves successors in Iran to the British, with whom they continue to work hand-in-glove.

For the Ambassador:

Roy M. Melbourne

First Secretary of Embassy

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.00/11–553. Confidential; Security Information. Drafted by G.D. King. Pouched to London and Moscow. Received on November 13.
  2. Despatch 235 from Tehran, October 24, reported that the Tudeh had retained the ability to conduct a “limited anti-Government campaign.” Even so, “Government security measures . . . have risen to a new level of effectiveness in striking at the central organization of the Party in Tehran.” (Ibid. 788.00/10–2453)