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

3095. We can add little to Embtel 2449, April 172 re Brit activities among tribes southern Iran (Deptel 2228, May 29).3

In conversation with Qashqai Khans, we have been told that Brit have had some recent contact with at least one of their sub-tribes, namely the Qashquli. The Qashqais claim that they wld cooperate with Brit only in event of Sov invasion of Iran or establishment of Sov satellite govt in Tehran. Qashqais also informed us that it is possible that [Page 102] Brit may have some understanding with certain other FARS tribes, including the Mamassani, the Arabs, and segments of the Boir Ahmadi.

As was pointed out in Embtel 2449, Brit Intelligence, including AIOC, has always kept in close touch with tribal leaders near oil fields and at times has subsidized them so as to enlist their assistance in maintaining security. At present, in view of recent strikes and tense situation in oil area, friendship of tribal chiefs in area is important.

Altho we have been unable to obtain specific info, possibility that Brit may be negotiating with southern tribes should not (rpt not) be dismissed. It seems only logical that Brit shld take such action in effort to maintain order in south if (A) for one reason or another auth of Central Govt breaks down or (B) if Brit lives in oil area are threatened by mob action and violence and Mosadeq Govt appears unable control situation. Also there is always possibility that Brit may attempt to use southern tribal uprisings as counter pressure on govt (as in 1946), shld Sov attempt seize control Tehran Govt by infiltration or actual invasion.

Notwithstanding fact certain tribal grps in south may be to degree controlled by Brit, it is doubtful whether Brit cld muster sufficient tribal strength without introducing Brit troops to oppose forceful action by Iran Govt. This assumes, of course, Iranian troops in south wld remain loyal to Central Govt. As was reported in Embtel 2847, May 18, PriMin Mosadeq has already changed a number of officials, including military commanders, on grounds that those transferred were too much under Brit influence.4

Matter will be followed closely and views of Isfahan will be requested by mail, there being no code facilities between Tehran and Isfahan. CAS concurs.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 888.2553/6–351. Secret. Received June 4 at 11:09 a.m.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 30.
  3. Document 30.
  4. In telegram 2847 from Tehran, May 18, Grady also reported that these “substantial changes personnel holding govt posts” were “particularly in south Iran.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.00/5–1851)