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

No. 410

SUBJECT

  • Conversation with Prime Minister Zahedi

I have the honor to enclose herewith a memorandum of a conversation regarding the Qashqai tribes which took place on January 7, [Page 898]1954, between General Fazlollah Zahedi, Prime Minister of Iran, and myself.

Respectfully yours,

Loy W. Henderson

Enclosure

Memorandum of Conversation

Tehran, January 7, 1954.

SUBJECT

  • Conversation with Prime Minister Zahedi on January 7, 1954, regarding present status of the Qashqai Khans

During a conversation which I had on January 7th with General Fazlollah Zahedi I asked him what was the latest development with regard to the dissident Qashqai Khans.

The Prime Minister said he assumed that I was aware that Nasser Khan, the former Senator who had been acting as chief spokesman for the four brothers, had been in Tehran for some time. Following his arrival in Tehran Nasser had approached the Prime Minister and informed him that he would be prepared (a) to call upon the Shah if the latter would receive him in order to promise upon his solemn oath that he and his brothers would loyally serve the Shah and obey the laws of the country, or (b) if the Shah would not receive him, in any event to promise that he and his brothers would be loyal citizens of Iran, would obey the laws of the country, and would live quietly in their tribal areas in the south, or (c) to leave the country if the Shah should so desire. If they were to leave the country they hoped that the Government would be willing to purchase some of their possessions with foreign currency so that they would have the means for supporting themselves abroad.

Nasser had insisted in talking to the Prime Minister that his brothers were prepared to join him in pursuing any of the above-mentioned courses which might be agreeable to the Shah. They would prefer of course to be permitted to swear allegiance to the Shah and to prove by their acts that they desired in the future to be loyal subjects and law-abiding citizens.

Zahedi told me that he had discussed this matter with the Shah who had taken the position that no matter what the Khans might promise the Qashqais were not to be trusted, and that therefore three of the brothers, Nasser, Khosrow, and Mahammed Hosein, should leave the country. The Prime Minister said that he had imparted this infor[Page 899]mation to Nasser “this very morning”, and Nasser had taken the decision without any great display of surprise. Nasser had maintained that he and his brothers did not have sufficient funds abroad on which to live. He himself had only $17,000 in foreign banks. He had begged, therefore, that they be permitted to sell some of their property and convert the proceeds into foreign currency. Although the Prime Minister had not given Nasser any definite answer he told him that it would be extremely difficult to prevail upon the Minister of Finance to give foreign exchange for this purpose.

The Prime Minister indicated to me that he was happy that the Qashqai situation was developing so favorably. Both the Shah and the Chief of Staff in the past had insisted that the Iranian Army move against the Qashqai tribes. The Prime Minister, however, had adhered to the position that with patience and firmness the Qashqai problem could be solved bloodlessly. The Government had succeeded in breaking down Qashqai unity and gaining the support of three of the most important subtribes. It was only when the Khans had discovered that their tribal empire was crumbling and that the Tudeh was not living up to its promises to them to stir up uprisings in various parts of the country that they capitulated. He was proud of the fact that the Government had won in its struggle with the Qashqai Khans without firing a shot. Of course much work remained to be done before the problem of the Qashqais could be said to be definitely eliminated.

Loy W. Henderson
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.00/1–1154. Secret. Drafted by Henderson. Received January 23. A copy was sent to London.