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71. Memorandum From the Chief of the Near East and Africa Division, Directorate of Plans (Roosevelt) to the Chief of the Operations Division, Directorate of Plans, Central Intelligence Agency ([name not declassified])1

SUBJECT

  • Monthly Division Operations Report of NEA Activity for March 1952

[Omitted here are portions of the report unrelated to Iran.]

3. Reports from Iran during March stressed the progressive deterioration of the economic and political situation in view of Prime Minister Mossadeq’s prolonged failure to reach some settlement of the oil controversy. Four political trends have become apparent: a) Prime Minister Mossadeq, in spite of maneuvers within his National Front and evidence of waning popularity, is considered capable of remaining in power and control at least during the early session of the new parliament. b) The prestige of the Shah is weakening because of his indecision and vacillation. The throne’s principal support, the Army, remains loyal but has been subject to constant attack by the National Front and the Tudeh, the latter having been somewhat successful in penetrating the armed forces. c) In spite of its poor showing in the recent elections, which were rigged throughout the country, the Tudeh Party has been gaining strength, primarily by subversion. The majority of Iranians continue to be blind to the Tudeh’s development and threat; and the Government, preoccupied with economic and political problems, takes no positive action against the Tudeh. d) Xenophobia in Iran is now being directed against the US since Washington’s statement that no significant US economic aid would be granted Iran prior to an oil settle[Page 228]ment.2 This anti-American feeling has recently been exploited by the Tudeh.

In view of these political developments in Iran, the necessity for prompt policy clarification, as outlined in the Division’s Monthly Report for February, has become urgent. At a meeting during March with the Assistant Secretary of State, the Division was assured that a revision of NSC 107/2 would be initiated at the earliest opportunity.3 Until some clarification of that directive is obtained, no provision exists for CIA to undertake large-scale stay-behind planning to meet contingencies such as a Tudeh coup or political fragmentation of Iran.

[2 paragraphs (29 lines) not declassified]

In balancing credits and debits it should be borne in mind that: a) Anti-foreign feeling was growing in violence [1½ lines not declassified]. b) The only anti-communist forces that can be effectively helped are nationalist extremist. c) The threat to internal security created by street fights between communists and anti-communists is probably not as serious as would have been the threat of uncontested Tudeh “rule of the streets”.

[Omitted here are portions of the report unrelated to Iran.]

Kermit Roosevelt 4
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO–IMS Files, Job 80–01795R, Box 10, Folder 3, Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) History 01Apr52–15Apr52. Top Secret; Security Information.
  2. An apparent reference to the statement contained in telegram 1648 to Tehran, February 9, printed in Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, 1951–1954, pp. 348–349 (Document 156).
  3. No record of a meeting with Department of State representatives on this subject in March 1952 has been found. In his monthly report prepared for Chief of Operations Helms for December 1951, dated January 7, 1952, Roosevelt reported that “with the continued deterioration of the situation in Iran, conversations have been held with the Policy Planning Staff of the Department of State and the Acting Assistant Secretary. The likelihood of the fragmentation of the country and the possibility of Tudeh control were weighed. Questions raised by CIA relative to the type and magnitude of aid to the tribes and other elements loyal to the Shah, and concerning stockpiling, timing, and collaboration with the British, were all regarded by the Department officials as pertinent and important. Although no conclusions were reached regarding these specific matters, Mr. Berry pointed out that NSC 107/2, defining the position of the United States with respect to Iran, would be restudied and redrafted, since its basic premises have proved faulty; a new and clearer policy is expected to be formulated. Such a revision should pro-vide clearer guidance to the CIA.” (Central Intelligence Agency, DDO–IMS Files, Job 80–01795R, Box 8, Folder 3, Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) History 01Jan52–10Jan52)
  4. Printed from a copy with Roosevelt’s typed signature.