315. Memorandum From the U.S. Technical Cooperation Administration Regional Director in Shiraz (Bryant) to the Director of the U.S. Technical Cooperation Administration Mission in Iran (Warne)1
Third Memorandum Report Pertaining to the Ghashghaie Situation
The Governor General, Mr. Haiat, and the General of the Sixth Division, Mirjahangiri, met the Ghashghaie brothers in an area near Abadeh, at which time every effort was made to reconcile the Ghashghaie with the present government. The Ghashghaie chiefs presented a large number of considerations, some of them nearly impossible for the government to accept without being embarrassed and showing weakness. They asked for an early release of Mr. Mossadegh, members of his Cabinet, and deputies of the Majlis who have been placed under arrest by the present government. The brothers entered a strong protest [Page 755] of being policed by the military except during periods of martial law when instituted for the entire country.
In later discussions with the brothers they indicated that they did not expect the government to concede to all of their requests. The proposals made by them to gain their support or to remain quiet were purposely difficult for the government as the Ghashghaies at this time were not in a position to make a decision as to their future course of action. This final decision will not be made until they meet with all of the sub-tribal chiefs, consisting of approximately 100, in about two weeks time.
The meeting was conducted in a friendly atmosphere and the Ghashghaie high personal regard for Mr. Haiat and General Mirjahangiri was further enhanced; however no real satisfaction was realized by the government (as intended by the chiefs), but a promise was made to submit the Ghashghaie proposals to Tehran for further consideration.
Following this meeting there was a definite indication of increased concern, particularly with the Kashkuli and Darashuri tribes, that a peaceful settlement could not be obtained. It appears that this fear developed as a result of the difficult position purposely pursued by the Ghashghaie brothers. Bahmanbegui made an early contact with me following this meeting stating that Ziad Khan, chief of the Darashuri, and Elias Khan, chief of the Kashkuli, were in Shiraz and that they were very uncertain as to the position taken particularly by their chief, Khosrow Khan. They would not be disloyal, but they disliked any contacts or any traffic of any nature with members of the Tudeh party. They were also of the belief that no benefit could be achieved by anti-government action on their part.
I turned down an invitation to see them personally since this might be misconstrued by the brothers that we were creating dissension and disloyalty among their people. These two chiefs, however, represent at least 60 per cent or more of the Ghashghaies and, as it was evident that they represented definite soft spots, I did send a message through Bahmanbegui to them. We explained that we understood their concern and that we were of the opinion that they could do much to stablize the tribes at this critical time.
In an effort to lend their support they left Shiraz to meet with the brothers a full day in advance of my appointment to see Khosrow and Malek Mansour Khan. I believe that they contributed substantially in convincing Khosrow that he should not take any anti-government action at this time, but should make an effort to reconcile their position. These two powerful sub-chiefs would undoubtedly remain loyal to the majority view of the brothers, but, without question, Khosrow’s attitude was softened as a result of pressure exerted by them. Khosrow’s [Page 756] position would be greatly weakened if he failed to take their views into consideration.
Bahmanbegui contacted Nasser Khan on my instructions for the purpose of making arrangements for me to meet with him. Realizing that Nasser was in sympathy with giving support to the present government, I left it for him to decide with whom I should meet. Nasser, recognizing Khosrow’s popular following, suggested that I first meet with Khosrow and Malek Mansour and, if this meeting was not successful, he would make arrangements to see me at a very early date.
My meeting with Khosrow Khan, Malek Mansour, and other leaders of the Ghashghaies took place on September 5 in an area known as the Tangarue plain, approximately four or five hours drive from Shiraz. Other Ghashghaies present at this meeting besides Khosrow and Malek Mansour were Ziad Khan, Elias Khan, Habib, and Bahmanbegui. The camp was located only a very short distance from the area in which they are presently staging a part of their force. I later learned that it was necessary for them to establish this separate camp since they had other visitors in their main area. I gathered that for the most part these visitors consisted of pro-Mossadegh followers who are doing what they can to encourage the Ghashghaies to take up action against the government.
I covered frankly, but in some detail, the information which was reviewed and decided upon in Tehran to give them. It was evident that they were extremely anxious to hear from us and that in all probability they would determine a course of action in accordance with the desires of the Americans. I explicitly informed them that the action taken by Ambassador Henderson was, in my opinion, extraordinary on their behalf and that we expected this to remain absolutely confidential. They were informed of the assurances given by General Zahedi that it was not his desire in any way to make their position difficult, that he had always enjoyed their friendship and confidence, and that he desired to continue to maintain a close and satisfactory working relationship and understanding with them. I also explained that General Zahedi would welcome a visit by any of the brothers and that he would further assure them of safe travel to and from Tehran if they wished to meet with him.
Khosrow deeply appreciated the fact that Ambassador Henderson recognized that assurances from the Prime Minister would not be sufficient to safeguard their future security and had, therefore, discussed their situation with the Shah. In discussing the conversation that Ambassador Henderson and the Shah had, I pointed out to them that I was of the opinion that Mr. Henderson had presented their situation in the most favorable manner. They were informed that the Ambassador had spoken to the Shah of the good working relationship we had always maintained with the Ghashghaies and that they had always extended [Page 757] to the Americans the finest hospitality and, in addition, had been of substantial service to the Americans.
I explained that the Shah did not understand why they disliked him since he felt that he had personally never done anything counter to their interests. I further explained that the Shah had also informed Ambassador Henderson that he was so deeply concerned over the future of Iran that he was not only willing but desirous to let “bygones be bygones,” and that he in no way wished to make conditions difficult for the Ghashghaies. I made it clear to them that Ambassador Henderson stated that he accepted these assurances from the Shah in the good faith that he thought they were given. It was quite evident that Khosrow would liked to have received more of a direct assurance from the Americans, but nevertheless accepted our position that we could not give a guarantee on matters which pertain to the internal affairs of any nation. I am certain that these statements and assurances extracted by Ambassador Henderson immediately greatly impressed the other Ghashghaies and that as Khosrow had an opportunity to think about it he was deeply appreciative for the effort that was made by Mr. Henderson.
In my discussion with the Ghashghaies I covered in some detail the opinions of Ambassador Henderson as to the consequences they could expect if they took action counter to the interest of the government. I told them that the Ambassador was of the opinion that such action on their part could lead to nothing but disaster as far as the Ghashghaies were concerned. They were informed that as their friends we would not want to see them suffer losses among their people, their flocks, and their land.
Knowing that they had been in contact with the leading member of the Shiraz Tudeh party (Tavalali) I stressed the fact that I knew that they understood that we could not have a satisfactory relationship with any group that had direct or indirect dealings with the Communists. Khosrow did not hesitate to say that he had personally held discussions with representatives of the Communists and that he had informed them that regardless of the present situation that some day in the future they would undoubtedly be shooting at each other.
Throughout all the discussion the Ghashghaies indicated that they had faith and believed in General Zahedi, but that they did not feel that his government would remain in office for any prolonged period of time. However, at no time did they indicate that they could ever accept the Shah or believe in any statement made by him. They are of the opinion that the Shah will continue to interfere and to make political intrigues against the Prime Minister and his government. They stated that they have concrete evidence that the Shah has already started to [Page 758] criticize Zahedi. I believe, if anything, they have more contempt for the present Shah than they even held for his father, if this is possible.
They hold in the highest regard the Governor General Haiat and General Mirjahangiri, but possess a fear that they will be replaced by someone who will not give them the consideration which they feel they deserve. As indicated they deeply appreciate the efforts made by Mr. Henderson, but fear also that at some date he may leave Iran and that his influence will be forgotten. I pointed out to them that the conversations which took place had been reported and that certainly Washington would be informed of our position. This seemed to give them some satisfaction as pertains to their future.
Since it was impossible to return to Shiraz Saturday night, I remained with the Ghashghaies and later that evening Khosrow spent about three hours with us at which time he spoke in detail of their present situation. His attitude had softened a great deal as compared to the early afternoon when I had talked with them as a group. It was evident that they had reviewed their situation and were fully aware that any action on their part would ultimately benefit the Communists. Khosrow stated that he knew they could not win, but that his first concern was that they should be treated as other Iranians and that they should not be subjected to martial law and that such action on the part of the government might create an incident whereby they would be unable to avoid taking up arms. There seemed to be no doubt in his mind as to their ability to seize the population centers of south Iran.
The one thing which the Ghashghaies seem to have in common is an absolute lack of fear of military. Khosrow believes that many of the officers are not loyal to the present government and stated that he was informed by the Communist representatives that at least one garrison held a 30 per cent Tudeh membership. He pointed out to me that during the past week he had personally purchased 150 Bruno [Brno] rifles sold by the army officers to them. These rifles were new and had never been out of the box. They have been able to purchase any quantity of ammunition that they desired from the army officers. They have been promised other weapons including machine guns, bazookas, and one officer had told them that he could secure for them two 75 mm. guns. With this condition existing within the military they feel that it would be completely ineffectual when placed under attack.
Khosrow stated that under no circumstance would they make an immediate attack upon Shiraz. Their plan is to station a force near Shiraz which would tie down the military in giving security to that vicinity. They would then take as their first objective the city of Kazeroon. Their choice in making Kazeroon their first objective is based on their belief that 75 per cent or more of the population of that city would sup[Page 759]port the Ghashghaies, and secondly, because most of the military ammunition dumps are in that vicinity.
Throughout Khosrow’s private discussion with me he continuously kept coming back to the realization that regardless of what they might achieve through armed action he realized that in the end they would lose and that the Communists would gain. Khosrow stated that he had repeatedly appealed to Dr. Mossadegh to discontinue his practice of tolerating the Communists and that he had tried to persuade him to be more positive in his relationship with the United States. He frankly stated that the tolerance of Communism by the past government was the great mistake, and that although he recognized this, he did not feel that he could desert Dr. Mossadegh. He pointed out that regardless of what might happen to Iran in the future that he and the Ghashghaies could never accept Communism and that as long as they were a force they would fight it.
There is no doubt but what Khosrow still holds Dr. Mossadegh in the highest esteem and sincerely believes that he has been one of Iran’s great leaders. I emphasized to Khosrow that in my opinion in the present situation one had to rise far above the matter of personalities and that it was important to believe as the Shah in putting the welfare of Iran above any individual differences. I am certain that Khosrow believes this is the proper attitude and that this will have a real bearing on his final decision. In addition to this Khosrow has a very high respect for Mr. Goodwin and repeatedly referred to him and I believe this to be a very healthy influence upon him at this time.
Upon leaving the Ghashghaie camp the following morning one could not help but feel that the Ghashghaie would accept most any situation rather than endanger their American friendship. I sincerely believe that they want to reconcile their views with the government. They do not want to lose contact with us. They will not in the end try to drive a hard bargain with the government. They would like to see Dr. Mossadegh released, but not create trouble unless a sentence involving capital punishment were imposed.
Their second concern is the imposition of military supervision. They want the same kind of policing as given to other Iranian civilians. They state that they do not object to paying taxes or to having their sons drafted for military service. They state that many of the Ghashghaie families now have sufficient money whereby they are able to pay for keeping their sons out of service and that this practice is not different with them than other Iranian families that can afford to do so. They want some share in aid which is being given for technical purposes and for economic development. Three of the brothers believe that the tribes should have a long range plan whereby they can be settled down and amalgamated into the Iranian population.[Page 760]
They want most of all the development of an Iranian agency which has the primary responsibility of not only supervising the tribes, but will have a responsibility for their welfare. They want a bureau of tribal affairs that has welfare functions over and beyond policing responsibilities.
Upon leaving the camp one could not help but notice a change in the atmosphere. I was specifically informed that they had carried their discussions far into the night and that they had made one definite decision: they would not have any future contacts with members of the Tudeh party, that they would not talk to anyone as an intermediary between them and the Tudeh party. They stated that they now realized that the Tudeh party would only use the Ghashghaies to their advantage and they were very anxious to impress upon me that they would not receive in the future any other representatives. It should be mentioned that the Tudeh had definitely promised them all of the ammunition that they would need as well as helping them with arms and communications. It is apparent that they will now have nothing to do with this.
The following day after my return home I was informed by Bahmanbegui that a message had been sent to one of the sub-tribal chiefs by Khosrow that they were going to make peace with the government.
In evaluating the present situation I believe that much progress has been made as a result of Mr. Henderson’s contacts and relationships which have been maintained with Khosrow by Embassy officials in the past as well as the efforts which have been undertaken by representatives of the Iranian government. I do not believe that the Ghashghaies will undertake any armed activity unless they feel that they are being subjected to pressure or that an unfortunate incident should occur between members of the tribe and the military. However, I have been given assurances that they will make every effort to prevent any incident occurring and that if one does occur they will do their best to keep this from spreading into a larger conflict.
They will stage some forces near the vicinity of Shiraz. This will not inconvenience them this year because of the extreme drought in the south. They will benefit by remaining in this area until after the first rains. They will probably not give open support to the present government, but will refrain from taking any anti-government action. They believe that this government will fall through intrigues of the royal court and that then they will have an opportunity to support a constructive third government. If this does not happen and there are no incidents within the next two or three months and they feel assured that this government has strength, there is a good possibility that they then may support it. If this government remains in office for two or three [Page 761] months, some of the brothers, in my opinion, will come to Tehran (indicated by Khosrow) at which time a full reconciliation can be achieved.
I picked up one thing which I am not totally able to evaluate, but which I feel should be passed on. Habib is liked by the Ghashghaies, but does not stand in too high regard with a number of them, the reason is that he does not represent any tribal people since his tribe is dissolved. And secondly, some feel that he would put personal interest over that of serving the tribes.
- Source: National Archives, RG 469, Records of U.S. Foreign Assistance Agencies 1948–1961, Mission to Iran, Executive Office Subject Files (Central Files) 1951–1961, Box 7, Folder 6, 350. Secret. Printed from an uninitialed copy, which is attached to a covering memorandum from Warne to Henderson dated September 12.↩