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

3118. This estimate Tudeh potential prepared by Emb and concurred in by CAS and Service Attachés supplements Embtel 2943 Feb 4 [5].2

We believe Tudeh potential inextricably bound with fate Natl Front Govt and internal stability. Hence, estimate duration Mosadeq regime without financial resources is basic to calculation of rapidity with which presently well-organized Tudeh may infiltrate all organs of power and may successfully challenge Natl Front. Mosadeq Govt may continue for unspecified period because of popular support and hesitant Shah, with Army, might be reluctant attempt replace him. Therein appears to lie danger since Mosadeq Govt might hang on and neutralize other anti-communist opposition forces until pro-Tudeh Govt wld be able assume power.

Oil is only publicized program of Mosadeq Govt, and because of coalition character Natl Front contains seeds of disunity on domestic issues. Mosadeq thus far has kept party unity thru need for mutual support in elections and natl unity, despite deteriorating domestic conditions, by concentrating on anti-Brit issue. He is believed unwilling to take any stringent actions against Tudeh for fear creating untimely internal troubles. Govt thus might remain in power while political, economic and mil forces deteriorated until split within itself left field open to Tudeh as only remaining organized and unified opposition.

On basis election returns, which still subject to minor modification, Tudeh vote Tehran amounts approx 30 thousand. By descending order Maki is first on list with approx 112 thousand while Tudeh candidate Qasemi is 14th with approx 29 thousand votes. Despite some rigging ballot by Govt, Tudeh vote count believed essentially accurate. There [Page 184] was energetic buying voting cards by Tudeh party from apathetic non-party voters before and during balloting. (To offset this in use of ballot count as calculation Tudeh strength is fact families Tudeh voters more politically active than non-communists.[)] Hence it appears numerical estimate Tudeh strength Tehran and environs approx represented by vote.

Disturbing feature Tehran elections, despite Natl Front victory in electing all 12 deputies to which Tehran district entitled, is fact Tudeh-supported candidates placed in slots varying from number 14 downward. Returns clearly showed Tudeh is strongest organized opposition force to Govt since no non-communist opposition candidate received vote equal to that of Tudeh candidate lowest on list. This tends substantiate Mosadeq statement to Amb (Embtel 3031 Para 5 Feb 11) that Tudeh remains only organized political faction in opposition.3

Disturbing also is info Natl Front is attempting covertly divert loyalty of security forces from Shah to Govt. Mosadeq becoming ever more suspicious of Shah and may make overt move to undermine his authority (Embtel 3067 Feb 13).4 Any open struggle between them will give good fishing to Tudeh.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 84, Tehran Embassy Files, 1950–1952, classified general records, Box 31. Secret; Security Information; Priority. Drafted by Cuomo and Melbourne on February 15 and cleared by Richards. The telegram is the Embassy copy as approved and has no time of transmission.
  2. In telegram 2943 from Tehran, February 5, the Embassy reported that the National Front had largely succeeded in limiting Tudeh gains in the recent Majlis elections. Nevertheless, the Embassy stressed that “in immediate future Tudeh likely represent effective organized opposition to Mosadeq Gov.” The strength of the Tudeh depended not on its organizational abilities alone, but rather on the financial and political stability of the National Front government. Hence, “danger for Iran just now comes not so much from present organization and activities of Tudeh as from possibility that gov may become impotent result of its own bankruptcy.” (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.00/2–552)
  3. Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, 1951–1954, pp. 349–352 (Document 157).
  4. In telegram 3067 from Tehran, February 13, Henderson reported that Mosadeq had told him of his suspicions that the Iranian army was unfriendly to the National Front and “interfering in elections” against National Front candidates. When Henderson told Mosadeq of his impression that the army had refrained from interfering in politics, Mosadeq replied that “they were rather careful in concealing their activities,” and that such activities must cease. Henderson closed this telegram with the comment that he was “somewhat apprehensive from statements made to me during course this conversation with Mosadeq that gulf between him and Shah is widening and that he may take some step in not distant future which will result in open breach between them.” (National Archives, RG 84, Tehran Embassy Files, 1950–1952, classified general records, Box 29)