Learn about the beta

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

308. 1. Nine o’clock this morn emissary from Qavam called to inform me he had good news. Qavam had recd msg last night that Shah wld like see him early this morn and Qavam had understood from msg that Shah finally prepared give him necessary powers. Emissary said he understood Qavam already on way Palace. At 11 o’clock this emissary telephoned that apparently there had been some mistake. After waiting several hours for expected call from Palace Qavam had become discouraged and had again relapsed into state of complete passivity. Since center Tehran was at time engaged in what amounted to civil war, it seemed to me fantastic that PriMin shld be sitting passively at his home as result some kind misunderstanding with court. I therefore told Ala by telephone what I had heard. Ala said Shah had decided not (rpt not) to talk to Qavam this morn but to one of Qavam’s lieutenants; that Shah had told this lieutenant that he cld not (rpt not) just now (rpt now) grant powers Qavam desired; that Shah’s attitude was being explained to Qavam and it was his understanding that Qavam wld accept [Page 282]Shah’s decision on temporary basis. I told Ala that sit Tehran was very bad and asked what Shah intended do. Ala replied Shah hesitated take steps which might lead to shedding more blood and Shah was trying at moment decide what best do in circumstances.

2. At 12:30 Middleton called. He had just had long talk with Ala. Ala had told him that perhaps “all of us” had underestimated strength Mosadeq, that Mosadeq seemed have following tremendous popular appeal and that public sentiment was clearly opposed to Qavam. Shah therefore was being forced to consider whether or not (rpt not) he shld not (rpt not) request Qavam’s resignation and appoint successor; he might perhaps even turn again to Mosadeq. Middleton expressed opinion to Ala that return of Mosadeq wld almost certainly mean elimination of Shah in not (rpt not) distant future. Ala agreed to existence of this danger. Ala indicated it not (rpt not) easy decide on who successor to Qavam be. Mansur was one possibility. Middleton told Ala that no (rpt no) PriMin cld succeed unless Shah wld give him in this difficult sit powers necessary preserve law and order. Ala asked Middleton whether in case govt shld come into power which desired settle oil problem on reasonable basis UK wld be willing cooperate in matter of finan aid. Middleton said that was question which might well be discussed with both Brits and Amers. He thought it might be good idea for Shah to see Amer Amb and himself jointly in order discuss this important matter. Ala said he was afraid that joint visit of Middleton and myself on Shah might be misconstrued at this juncture. Middleton renewed request which had been pending for some time that he be recd by Shah.

3. While Middleton was still in my office I succeeded in getting Ala again on telephone. I told him that according my info thousands rioters were milling thru the city streets, shouting “death to Brit and Amer imperialists, down with Shah”. I did not (rpt not) believe that I, as Amer Amb, must point out that if these crowds were permitted to continue carry on demonstrations this kind passions wld be aroused which might result in death or injury to Amer citizens. I had been considering possibilities asking for taking decisive action before situation entirely out control. I was not (rpt not) making formal request see Shah at this moment since if I called on him just now my visit might be misinterpreted. Nevertheless, I might consider it necessary see him later in day unless situation wld improve. Ala said strong measures were being taken by security forces to put down rioting. Some soldiers and police had already lost their lives. I said I realized that police and army were struggling against rioters but, unfortunately, those who were stirring up passions and violence were being permitted continue their incitation. Ala said he regretted truth of what I said. He had discussed matter with me on preceding evening and I knew how he felt. I said that I was [Page 283]not (rpt not) endeavoring criticize Ala or anyone else, I was merely pointing out that unless really firm measures were taken to bring halt rabble-rousing, harm cld come to one or more Amer citizens for whose safety I had responsibility. Ala said that he understood my position and wld at once tell HIM what I had said.

4. Ala added HIM was considering advisability of replacing Qavam whose unpopularity was now (rpt now) quite evident. I replied that I was not (rpt not) asking that any particular PriMin be given power to maintain order. It was my opinion however that order wld not (rpt not) be restored in country until Shah wld permit those responsible for its maintenance to make and carry out necessary decisions. Ala said that Shah wld receive Qavam soon in audience and that he, Ala, wld try pass along to Shah what I had said before audience began.

5. Ala also referred to suggestion made by Middleton that latter and I might make joint call on Shah. Ala had some doubt re wisdom joint audience this time. Enemies Shah and of Western world might convince public that US and UK were bringing pressure on Shah. I said there some problems affecting Iran, US and UK, solution to which might be advanced by joint discussions. Nevertheless, I realized there might be misinterpretation joint approach just now.

Henderson
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.13/7–2152. Secret; Security Information; NIACT. Repeated to London. Received at 12:04 p.m.