187. Memorandum Prepared in the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

Minister of Court Ala called on Ambassador Henderson on the morning of April 4. He said that he had just returned from spending two days with the Shah at a Caspian Sea resort. During the two days Ala said that he had done everything he could to persuade the Shah that Mossadeq would probably obtain all the reins of power unless the Shah took some definite step in opposition. He pointed out that the Shah’s position might become practically hopeless. The Prime Minister was set on forcing the Majlis to approve the report of the 8-man committee. He would interpret the committee’s approval as authorization for his becoming the actual Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and also for his controlling revenues which were currently accruing directly to the Crown. Ala also told the Shah that the only candidate who had the necessary energy and backing to succeed Mossadeq was General Zahedi. The latter had agreed to present his undated resignation to the Shah in advance so that should the Shah be displeased with him he could dismiss him at any time. Among the General’s support was Kashani, Haerizadeh and other dissident members of the national movement, influential political leaders not connected with that movement and many mullahs, merchants, army officers, etc.

The Shah seemed impressed and said he would give the matter further consideration on his return to Tehran (on the afternoon of the 4th). Ala emphasized the necessity of acting quickly. He pointed out that the Prime Minister was preparing a demonstration on April 5 or 6 to intimidate members of the Majlis. These demonstrations would probably be supported by certain disguised Tudeh groups as well as other groups imported from outlying districts and provinces.

In reply to a question by Ambassador Henderson, Ala said that Kashani supported Zahedi but, as with Maki, he hesitated to go all out. While giving lip service, both appeared to prefer to maintain a position which would allow them to plead non-involvement should the attempt to overthrow Mossadeq by peaceful or other means fail. Ala said he intended to see Kashani later in the day in an effort to persuade him to take a more forthright position.

  1. Source: British National Archives, General Correspondence of the Foreign Office, FO 371/4564. Top Secret. According to a covering memorandum by A.K. Rothnie of the British Foreign Office, this memorandum is a paraphrase of a telegram from Henderson, which was handed to the British by Houghton of the U.S. Embassy in London.