61. Despatch From the Station in Iran to the Central Intelligence Agency1
[Despatch number not declassified]
- Specific—Summary of Remarks and Opinions Expressed by Mulla
Following transmitted for the record only as it may contribute to further operations involving the penetration of Kashani’s group.
1. Attached hereto (Attachment 1) is a summary of remarks and opinions expressed by Mulla Ayatolla Kashani during a conversation [less than 1 line not declassified] on 5 January 1952.
2. The conversation [less than 1 line not declassified] and took place in a house chosen by Kashani in the Shimran suburb of Tehran on 5 January. [1½ lines not declassified] It was explained [less than 1 line not declassified] to Kashani that we had nothing to ask of Kashani, nor anything [Page 171] specific to discuss with him; but that the reason for the meeting was to afford an opportunity for a frank, informal, friendly exchange of views.
3. Kashani immediately began attacking American policy of “siding with the British” in Iran, being most outspoken in his views. His criticism against the United States appeared to begin with “America’s imposition of Razmara on the Iranian people.” He singled out U.S. Attaché Gerald Dooher for special condemnation, and recalled Dooher’s interview with him during which the former tried to get him to support Razmara’s candidacy for premiership. Kashani stated that pious American claims to not interfere in internal Iranian affairs were belied by Wiley’s and Dooher’s support of Razmara. He also attacked the United States for its support of the British position in Egypt.
4. [1½ lines not declassified] it is felt that a personal relationship with Kashani over a period of time may serve to give this Station a better insight into the character and significance of this most important Iranian and Middle Eastern political figure.
5. In Attachment 2 is a brief analysis of Kashani as a person as could be gathered in one two-hour conversation.
name not declassified
Summary of remarks made by Mulla Ayatolla Kashani during conversation [less than 1 line not declassified] on 5 January 1952
1. Iran wants nothing from the United States save to be left alone and to have American influence used to prevent other powers—particularly Great Britain—from interferring in Iranian affairs. If Iran could be left strictly alone and not be molested by foreign powers it could become a rich and populace nation, even without benefit of its oil resources.
2. My desires, towards which my activities are directed are twofold: namely (1) prevention of a third World War in which the Middle East is involved and (2) opposition to the spread of Communism in Iran. In order to realize these aims three steps are necessary. We would like to have the co-operation and support of the United States in carrying out these three steps which I shall describe as follows:
A. Aid enabling the small nations with their weak governments to become strong and prosperous and—above all—truly independent.
B. Removal of all traces of the old imperialism. To bring this about the United States must use its international power and influence in support of the exploited colonial peoples and specifically to make it clear to [Page 172] Britain and France that the United States will not tolerate their imperialistic policies.
3. [C.] Bring about the unity and co-operation of the various Islamic countries so that the Near and Middle East by mutual co-operation may better resist Communism.
With regard to Communism in Iran the influence of the Moslem religion and more specifically my own influence has done and will do more to oppose Communism than $23,000,000 or even $23 billion of American aid.
4. The next most effective way of preventing Communism in the Middle East is for the Western powers to abandon their Imperialistic approach. Persistence of England and France in a colonial policy will only drive the Middle Eastern peoples into the arms of the Soviets.
5. Point Four and Military Aid From U.S.
I have advised the Prime Minister that Iran should not accept the $23,000,000 Point Four aid offered by the United States if there are any strings whatsoever attached which restrict Iran’s Sovereignty, neutrality, or liberty of action. We do not need the aid that badly.
6. Similarly I do not believe that Iran should continue to accept military aid so long as it binds Iran to any commitments inconsistent with Iran’s Sovereignty.
(Station Note: Although wording cannot be recalled, Kashani gave the impression that he was not in favor of military aid anyway.)
7. Solution of the Oil Problem
The World Bank, like other international organizations is primarily motivated by its interest in preserving the privileges of the large powers and is not truly dedicated to helping the smaller nations. (Station Note: The United Nations support of Iran during the Azerbaijan Democratic separatist movement in 1946 was pointed out to Kashani as an example of United Nations support of weak nations. Kashani said that basically the larger Western nations who control the United Nations were motivated by wholly selfish interests in their 1946 protection of Iran. The United Nations has not acted similarly in the defense of Iran against British pressure.)
If the World Bank sincerely wishes to find an acceptable solution to Iran’s oil problem, the following three principles must be adhered to:
A. Absolutely no British nationals may be employed in Iran.
B. The Iranian board of management must have supreme power over the Iranian oil industry. The Iranian board of management must have power to hire and fire foreign technicians.
C. Foreign technicians hired by the Iranian oil company should be replaced by Iranian technicians as soon as Iranian technicians can be trained.[Page 173]
8. The greatest assistance which could be rendered by the United States in solving Iran’s oil problem would be for the United States to immediately purchase some Iranian oil—even a small quantity—and arrange delivery of it. This symbol would “open the door” and show to the World that others can freely buy Iranian oil. The British blockade would be broken.
9. Middle East Pan-Moslem Activities
I am concerned with Imperialistic activities throughout the Middle East and Africa. I maintain intimate contacts throughout the Moslem world and am kept informed about the imperialistic actions of the French in Morocco and the Jezireh (Syria) and the British actions in Egypt. I have contacts also in India and Pakistan. If the United States persists in backing the British and French policy in these countries it will lose the friendship of the Middle East. (Station Note: Other remarks made by Kashani on this subject clearly revealed that he hoped for a Pan-Moslem Union, was working toward this goal, and had certain personal ambitions in this direction.)
10. American Contact
It is my desire that our contact be continued. It should be mutually beneficial for the United States and Iran if our contact be carried on.
(Station Note: [3½ lines not declassified].)
Kashani is unique amongst Persians insofar as he avoids couching or disguising his remarks in flowery politeness. He is blunt, sometimes to the point of rudeness, and is candid. His tactics, during the conversation in question at least, were to sharply criticise and attack Americans at the beginning, then shift to a more soothing treatment—presumably calculated to show that he is not a complete enemy of the United States.
He has a definite sense of humor, and a devilish glint in his expressive eyes. But from the role of kindly old man he can abruptly switch to a tyranical attitude of fierceness. His voice quavers when he talks which fact does not however detract from his forcefulness.
He exhibits a definite megalomania, characterized not only by obvious vanity but by his trying to monopolize the conversation, not allowing others in a conversation to finish their sentences, disdain for the words of others etc. He is a most difficult individual to talk with.
Kashani is not a logical or judicious thinker. He gives the appearance of being greatly motivated by emotion but above all by personal ambition. Kashani thinks in grandiose terms of Middle East crusades [Page 174] against Western Imperialism. While most Persian politicians are solely concerned with their role and position within Iran, it is obvious that Kashani’s aspirations are greater. He appears to be personally concerned with what occurs in Morocco, Israel, Syria, Pakistan and India and claims to be well informed as to events throughout the Middle East.
Kashani exudes a certain conspiratorial air, the air of a man who thoroughly enjoys intrigue. He lowers his voice to whisper when particularly important points are made. He showed genuine concern when other callers were announced during the conversation. His son, rather than a servant, served tea. [1½ lines not declassified]
- Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO Files, Job 89–00176R, Box 1, Folder 14, Iran. Secret; Security Information. Sent by air pouch. Approved by the Chief of Station and sent from the Deputy Chief of Station to the Chief of Foreign Division R.↩