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366. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Mr. Murphy, Deputy Under Secretary of State
  • Mohammed Hosein Qashqai
  • John H. Stutesman Jr., Officer in Charge Iranian Affairs

Through the introduction of Ambassador William Donovan, Mohammed Hosein Qashqai called on Mr. Murphy at the Department of State on April 28. He said that he represented his tribe and wished to present to officials of the American Government the nature of a very serious problem which was facing the Qashqais.

First he reviewed the history of the tribe, fighting mountain nomads who were moved, some four hundred years ago, by the Safavi monarch, Shah Abbas, from the Caucasus mountain area to the mountains of southwest Iran. The tribe has been involved in trouble and fighting its entire history, and, as Mohammed Hosein concluded, “Is now again in trouble”.

He said that the Shah was personally antagonistic to the Qashqais and desired to have the tribe disarmed and the leading family (four brothers, of whom Mohammed Hosein is the third in succession) deported from Iran. Mr. Qashqai interjected at this point that Prime Minister Zahedi is not antagonistic to the Qashqais and is in fact responsible for the comparatively calm relations which have existed during [Page 919]the past eight months between the Government authorities and the tribe.2

Mohammed Hosein said that the tribal people have long looked to his family for leadership. He and his brothers were raised in the tribal mountains, love their people and could not be happy even in the finest places of Europe for longing toward their homeland. He said that if the Shah wanted guarantees that the tribe would not be a source of unrest they could give such guarantees. He expressed the fear that the Shah was interested not so much in the maintenance of peace as in demonstration of his personal antipathy for the Qashqai leaders. He said that if the Shah pursued this policy without hope of some temporizing between the tribe and Government authorities, “There would be trouble in the end”.

He described the tribe as some 30,000 people who formed one of the few united forces in Iran. He said the tribe was firmly and logically anti-Communist since the Communists would obviously seek the destruction of the tribal leadership and probably of the tribal pattern of life. He pointed out somewhat wryly that this objective seemed to be similar to that sought by the Shah.

In response to a question from Mr. Murphy, he stated that the tribe did not seek a semi-autonomous status but in fact only wanted to live like other citizens of Iran. He pointed out that they presently pay substantial taxes to the Iranian Government.

He concluded his presentation by expressing the hope that the American Government, through the mouth of its Ambassador in Iran, could make some representation to the Shah which would result in amelioration of the Shah’s present antagonistic attitude. This would fit within the American objectives in Iran of maintaining stability and peace. Mr. Murphy replied that he was most interested in this problem, as described by Mr. Qashqai, and would consult with interested officers in the Department upon the matter. He then asked Mr. Qashqai to show on a map where the tribe lived in Iran, and the conversation broke up with the usual courtesies after Mohammed Hosein had described with some pride the extent of territory covered in tribal migrations.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.00/4–2954. Confidential. Drafted by Stutesman.
  2. On January 7, Zahedi told Henderson that the Shah felt that “the Qashqais were not to be trusted, and that therefore three of the brothers, Nasser, Khosrow, and Mahammed Hosein, should leave the country.” See Document 358.