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

377. Not for discussion with officials any other govt.

1. It is still too early to make sober assessment of situation here, to make estimate which wld be of any real value of effects which events of [Page 295]last week may have upon future of Iran, or to make firm recommendations re policies which US shld pursue re Iran in light of recent developments.

2. Altho situation is depressing we do not believe we shld throw up our hands while Iranians rush by in mad and suicidal career like so many million lemmings. Our tentative views are that there shld be prompt and radical changes in policies of both Brit and ourselves. We do not believe even most sensitive and suspicious Britishers can say after events of last seven days that US has not supported up to hilt their policies re Iran. They can not charge that failure of these policies was due to lack US cooperation. They might say that plans miscarried because Shah failed them. If Shah shld be given chance to speak he might insist in his own defense that he cld go no further than he had gone in face of Iranian public opinion particularly when he had no idea what kind of terms Brit had in mind for oil settlement. In any event in foreseeable future Shah is likely to be negligible political factor in Iran.

3. Following resignation Qavam, Natl Front deps for at least two days acted as revolutionary committee in control of all governmental institutions including armed forces. Members of this informal committee told military and police whom to arrest; it exerted considerable authority over Natl Front gangs. What control Mosadeq in future will be able exert over these Natl Front leaders who have tasted fruits of power is not yet certain. We are also not in position as yet to judge extent to which Tudeh has been and will in future be able to ensnare and corrupt Natl Frontists at various levels. We cannot just now speak with any confidence re future armed forces. Our tentative understanding is that morale of certain groups of officers and certain units has been shattered but that armed forces as whole are not at present in state of demoralization. Altho Natl Front heretofore has in general been anti-army certain elements in Front are taking attitude that since army of future is to be “natl army” instead of “Shah’s private army” it is in interest of country to reorganize it into modern effective force. We have as yet little reliable information re developments in provinces. In some of larger cities there appear to have been demonstrations resulting in violence and bloodshed. We know of no area which at present is not under control of central govt.

4. During most frenzied hours of rioting Americans were almost as great hate target as Qavam, Brit and Shah. Incitations against US and Americans were primarily work of Tudeh altho certain Natl Front leaders, bitter at what they consider to be our policy of supporting Brit and refusing to give financial aid to Iran, undoubtedly gave certain amount encouragement to anti-Americanism. Natural suspicions of Iranians re foreigners, perhaps justified by centuries of experience, contributed to cause them to believe various malicious rumors propagated [Page 296]against Americans. Among slogans which assisted were “American tanks and guns are killing Iranians”. Apparently more sober leaders of Natl Front are beginning to realize that creation anti-American sentiment will not be helpful to their Govt and are attempting to muffle attacks on US.

5. We do not as yet know what Mosadeq’s attitude towards US will be now that Natl Front has complete power. He is not likely to be entirely free agent since he must take into consideration views of Natl Front leaders. I have not as yet called on him and I do not consider it wise to do so, unless requested by him, until after his Govt has recd vote of confidence from Majlis and Senate. He has told me on several occasions he will never again ask US for financial aid. I doubt therefore that he will make such request during our first interview. My doubt is strengthened by fact that with full financial and economic power which will now be accorded him, he shld be able print enough bank notes to finance Govt for months to come. He may however ask if after decision Hague Court US Govt will continue to work with Brit in order prevent Iran from exporting oil or whether US Govt will take attitude it will not object to purchase and transport of Iranian oil by American nationals. He may even suggest that if US is really interested in maintenance Iranian independence it shld help Iran to find markets for its oil.

6. If Mosadeq’s manner shld be sufficiently friendly to permit me to talk with him frankly as I have on a number of occasions in past I might try to convince him that since Natl Front has crushed all opposition and has unchallenged control of country, and since decision Intnatl Court has removed certain legal obstacles,2 he can now afford to approach oil problem in more conciliatory manner. I might point out if I find him in tractable mood that if Iran is to make real progress internally under his Govt it shld take attitude which will help to remove suspicions and misunderstandings which are adversely affecting close cooperation between Iranians and peoples who are their natural friends. I hope that such approach will have more effect than some of my previous efforts at persuasion.

Henderson
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 84, Tehran Embassy Files, 1950–1952, classified general records, Box 29. Secret; Security Information; Priority. Drafted by Henderson. Repeated to London. The telegram is the Embassy copy as approved and has no time of transmission.
  2. On July 22, the International Court of Justice supported the claim of the Government of Iran that the Court was without jurisdiction in the Iranian oil nationalization case.