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38. Memorandum for the Record1

IRAN

A tribal revolt in the South led by the Qashqais would suggest British collusion, even though the Qashqais are violently anti-British. The U.S.S.R. might plausibly invoke the treaty of 1921 in the event of such an uprising. Very confidentially, the Qashqais state categorically that they will not recognize any government in Iran formed with Tudeh (Communist) participation, and will formally notify the “powers” in [Page 115]this sense. This implies that an uprising might have a separatist character and not be merely another internal rebellion.

Alone, they claim, they can defeat the Iranian army even if it is supported by the Azerbaijani and the Barzani. If the Soviet Union intervenes, their situation will be hopeless but they will fight to the end.

It may be recalled that in 1946 the Qashqais defeated and disarmed an Iranian regiment and surrounded Shiraz. Peace was made by negotiation.

The Qashqais tribe, about 300,000 strong, is well integrated and is organized for irregular warfare. They claim that they will be joined by at least half the tribes of the South.

The consequences of such an uprising could be inflammatory. The Qashqais are not bluffing, and they are determined and resolute.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.00/7–651. Secret. Drafted by John Wiley of the Bureau of European Affairs, former Ambassador to Iran. The memorandum is attached to a July 6 memorandum from Lucius D. Battle, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State, to the Executive Secretariat, which reads: “Ambassador John Wiley left the attached memorandum with the Secretary today. He said that he had recently had tea with some of the group referred to in the memo. Ambassador Wiley feels that the strength of this tribal group is great and that in this situation we could even have the roots of a world war. Could this be passed on to Mr. McGhee for his information?”