Learn about the beta
[Page 906]

361. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Iranian Political Situation

PARTICIPANTS

  • Mr. Ernest Perron, Secretary to the Shah
  • Mr. Michael R. Gannett, Second Secretary of Embassy

Mr. Perron had the following points to make in a conversation held on February 17, in which he did most of the talking:

1. Relations between Shah and Zahedi—Mr. Perron asserted that the possibilities for differences to arise between the Shah and the Prime Minister following inauguration of the new Parliament will be very great and that steps should be taken now to prevent the two from drifting apart. He asserted that for some time the Shah has not liked Zahedi but was forced to accept the General’s leadership of the movement to oust Mosadeq owing to the absence of any other person who could adequately perform this task. He thought it highly possible, given the Shah’s mentality, that intriguers could be successful in persuading the Shah to ditch the Prime Minister, especially after the elapse of a few months when the inevitable cleavages within the Majlis and the Senate will begin to develop. Mr. Perron hoped that the American Embassy would exert its best efforts toward insuring the continuation of an adequate working relationship between the Shah and the Prime Minister. In this regard he thought it highly important that the Zahedi regime be able to develop a popular following, in particular to secure the support of the non-communist, nationalist elements which formerly had rallied behind Dr. Mosadeq. He recognized this would be a difficult task but felt that unless some measure of progress could be made in this direction, the prospects for the continued life of the Zahedi Government would not be good. I assured Mr. Perron that we also regarded as essential the maintenance of smooth working relations and mutual confidence between the Shah and Zahedi and that one cannot [Page 907]help being concerned over the gulf existing between the present Government and many segments of the Iranian people.

2. Perron’s desire to work with Zahedi—Mr. Perron said that unfortunately he had not been able to develop a harmonious working relationship with General Zahedi. He was most anxious for the General and his Government to know of his good intentions in this regard but found that he did not have an effective means of communicating them to the General. Unfortunately, he was unable to communicate them through Ardeshir Zahedi with whom he does not have a common language. In view of the close working relationship between the American Embassy and the Zahedi Government and particularly with Ardeshir Zahedi, he hoped it would be possible for the Embassy to have it made known to General Zahedi that he was available to be of every assistance. Mr. Perron proceeded immediately to his next point without awaiting comment from myself.

3. American efforts to support anti-communist groups—Mr. Perron said he was aware of efforts by the American Embassy to encourage the development of anti-communist groups within Iran. In this connection he wished merely to call to our attention that Aramesh and Bahbudi are highly dishonest persons and should not be treated with any confidence.2 I observed that I also had heard of this reputation. Mr. Perron went on to make a plea for forthright American intervention in the internal political affairs of Iran, in order to insure success for the anti-communist movement. He asserted that Point Four and the Military Mission engage daily in domestic political matters and obviously only the Embassy was reluctant to do so.3 He thought this reluctance was most unfortunate, as it would be in the common interest of both the United States and Iran for the Embassy to take forthrightly a more active part in this vital matter. I noted that it was not the intention of OMI or the Military Mission to dable in local politics and that I thought it imprudent for any foreign government to seek to manage the local affairs of another country. Mr. Perron recalled that to his knowledge in the past the American Government had pursued policies in Iran of which the Ambassador had not always been aware; to which I observed that I could speak only of recent months but that I was sure that during the period I had been familiar with Iranian matters the Ambassador has been fully informed on American policy towards Iran.

4. Mr. Klein’s visit 4—Mr. Perron said he wished to point out the most unfortunate interpretation being placed upon the visit of Mr. [Page 908]Klein, an American independent oil official. Although he understood Mr. Klein had been invited to Iran by Prince Abdor Reza through the intervention of Mr. Hillier ostensibly to engage in some hunting, he knew that the Prince hoped somehow to secure personal pecuniary advantage in connection with the expected oil settlement, and that for this reason he had invited Mr. Klein to visit him. The visit was being widely interpreted in just this light, which was having most unfortunate repercussions for the Court and the Shah. The Iranian people, Mr. Perron asserted, had come to regard the oil resources of Iran as their personal property in consequence of the nationalization law; thus any suggestion to them that the Shah or the Court were personally involved in oil matters would inevitably have unfortunate repercussions for the Monarchy. I said I could easily understand this viewpoint and that so far as I was aware the Embassy had not had prior knowledge of Mr. Klein’s intention to visit Iran.5

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.00/3–554. Secret. Drafted by Gannett. This memorandum is attached to a letter from Gannett to Stutesman, March 5, in which he commented that “I see Perron for tea most every week in succession to a custom pursued in my time here by Eric Pollard and later Roy Melbourne. These sessions usually consist of lectures from ‘Professor’ Perron on the Iranian scene as he sees it and upon the shortcomings of the Shah as a leader of people. As these memoranda indicate, it is usually my tactic to listen and to offer as few comments as possible.”
  2. Richards placed a check mark in the margin next to this sentence and underlined “Aramesh” and “Bahbudi.”
  3. Richards placed a check mark and his initials in the margin next to this sentence.
  4. A reference to Harry Thomas Klein, General Counsel of the Texas Company.
  5. Richards highlighted this paragraph and placed his initials in the margin.