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54. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1

1829. This shld not be shown Brit altho parts re Iranian pol situation can be used as basis for discussion.

1. Campaign to replace Mosadeq by Qavam has recd setback during last two days. Yesterday afternoon Middleton, Brit Chargé d’ Affaires, told me he had learned thru quite good channels that Shah has again changed his mind and desires no one except Ala, MinCourt, as next Primin. He asked where our Emb stood re Mosadeq, Qavam and Ala.

2. I said we had no instructions and expected none on this subject. Our present position was that Emb shld neither back nor oppose any candidate. It might look like weakness for it to lean over backwards in this matter. Nevertheless we preferred appearance of weakness to policy which might well boomerang. We still were not convinced that in general interference in Iranian internal affairs was likely in long run to pay. Of course if any PM shld be clearly leading country down path towards Communism we wld not hesitate as exception to take moves [Page 152]to try to save Iran even tho they might be considered as interference. Such situation did not appear exist at present.

3. Middleton said Shah had recently indicated he wld like former to ask for audience. Middleton had not done so for fear Shah might ask searching questions which he shld not answer in absence his Ambassador now expected here within ten days. He might not be able however longer to evade interview. He was afraid Shah might ask what Brit wld think of Ala as new Primin. What kind of reply wld I make to question this kind as to US position. I said I wld probably reply US had no intention supporting any candidate; nevertheless I sure I was voicing views my Govt in saying I considered Ala as man of highest ideals and principles, loyal and honest, a statesman who wld be a credit to any country. I thot [thought] however Ala was so kindhearted and so lacking in guile and pol skill that he might have great difficulty in coping with situation unless he shld have Cabinet composed in part of most patriotic statesmen of country skilled in politics and not afraid adopt strong measures and in part of young energetic men with progressive ideas willing and able institute necessary reforms. Middleton seemed agree with me. He also agreed with my expressed belief Ala had no desire be Primin at this time.

4. Middleton asked me state frankly what I thot of Qavam. I said I knew latter only by reputation which in some respects not high. I thot it wld be unfortunate if public shld get idea US supporting him. I believed it wld also be against our common interests if Iranians shld come to belief he was Brit candidate. Middleton said he doing best to dissipate impression which seemed to be rather widespread Brit supporting Qavam. Qavam complicated character. He had recently sent emissaries who represented his platform in rosy light. For instance, liberal attitude towards settlement oil dispute (altho not return Brit oil companies to Iran); agricultural and financial reforms; entry Iran into ME defense pact; suppression of Commies, etc. Of course these mere promises. Qavam so tricky no one knew exactly what he wld do if once in power. Nevertheless Mosadeq with his anti-Brit bias; plus his apparent determination to keep Iran “neutral” might well lead Iran into clutches of Russia. I said I appreciated this danger and agreed developments shld be closely watched. I did not say Qavam had sent US message he desired keep aloof from both Russians and Brit and cooperate with US.

5. Later in evening I had long talk with Ala. He said Shah anxious know latest US attitude towards Mosadeq and our views re Iranian pol scene. Was it to be inferred from “special treatment” shown to Mosadeq in Washington2 that US wanted him to remain in power? Were [Page 153]press reports to effect that US thot Communism only alternative to Mosadeq accurate? I replied Mosadeq went to US as Primin of Iran with full backing of Majlis. US Govt therefore had treated him with all respect due to full-fledged rep of Iran. Courtesies and consideration not shown to Mosadeq as an individual but to head of Iranian Govt. US prepared cooperate with Mosadeq or any other duly installed Primin prepared to work with it. Ala said he understood Mosadeq returning to Iran determined neither to change his policies re oil or to resign. Was US prepared to give Iran financial assistance so it cld carry on without oil revenues? I said I not in position answer such question just now. I thot however it might not be easy for US Govt to give or lend Iran funds for an indefinite period to compensate it for its loss of oil revenues.

6. Ala asked re attitude US towards Qavam. I again replied US not supporting or opposing him. It was trying not interfere in internal affairs of country. I asked if it true Shah was not favorable to Qavam’s candidacy. Ala said “no”, but Shah not yet decided give Qavam full support. Qavam was outstanding candidate succeed Mosadeq; nevertheless, Shah continued hesitate throw his weight behind him. Unfortunately on November 14 vicious attack had been made on Qavam’s integrity by Senator Farrokh on floor Senate. Shah deeply regretted this attack and sent message to Qavam that effect. Since Senator was friend Shah Qavam was deeply suspicious that Court was in some way involved in this attack. In his chagrin Qavam had applied for passport to leave country. Shah was still trying dispel this suspicion and persuade Qavam remain on. I remarked another person was being mentioned for Primin. Ala replied that other person wld in no circumstances accept post. He had held it for month prior to Mosadeq and his experience had convinced him he not cut out for pol life that kind. I said that with strong experienced and forward looking Cabinet perhaps he might be able rally country around him. Ala said he thought he cld be more useful in his present position. Before leaving Ala remarked Shah wld probably like to see me in near future.

Henderson
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 84, Tehran Embassy Files, 1950–1952, classified general records, Box 32. Secret; Priority. Drafted and initialed by Henderson. Repeated to London and Paris. The telegram is the Embassy copy as approved and there is no time of transmission.
  2. Mosadeq visited the United States in October. See Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, 1951–1954, pp. 241–255 (Documents 117119).