321. Despatch From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1

No. 172


  • Embassy Despatch 154, September 11, 19532


  • Attitude of Qashqai Tribes Toward the Zahedi Government

There is transmitted herewith an additional memorandum concerning the Qashqai tribes by Mr. Elmer C. Bryant, Regional Director at Shiraz of the U.S. Operations Mission for Iran.3 Mr. Bryant describes the interview he had with Khosro Khan and Malek Mansur Khan to deliver oral messages to the Qashqais from the Shah and from Ambassador Henderson (Embassy Telegram no. 484, August 26, repeated London as no. 140)4 as regards the tribes’ relationship with the Zahedi Government.

In summary, it would appear the Qashqais continue to consider the Shah as an anathema and Prime Minister Zahedi, while personally an honorable man, as the Shah’s creature whose Government can be expected to fall in the not distant future; hence they will continue to remain aloof and will wait until the anticipated formation of another government before coming to terms with the Tehran authorities. Nevertheless, the chieftains appeared impressed by the word conveyed by Mr. Bryant that the Shah wished to let bygones be bygones and that Ambassador Henderson accepted this assurance as given in good faith. Finally, the chieftains appeared to have reached a decision to disassociate themselves completely from the Tudeh. In this latter connection there have appeared in the last few days a number of press stories that Nasr and Khosro have publicly reaffirmed their devotion to Mohamed Mosadeq and their desire to see the former Prime Minister returned to power. It seems probable this unlikely and unconfirmed report was in fact originated by the Tudeh, who have carried it as one item in a clandestinely circulated printed leaflet of their own.

[Page 770]

There are, unfortunately, indications that the Shah is in fact rather riled by the Qashqais’ actions in recent weeks and would derive considerable personal satisfaction in causing them harm. But for the moment there appears little likelihood that this disposition will be allowed to set the course of events.

Mr. Bryant, who has been in Tehran the last few days for a conference of Regional Directors, states the only item of interest coming to his attention with regard to the Qashqais since the date of his most recent memorandum5 was concerned with an incident at Firuzabad, to the southeast of Shiraz, on about September 10. Apparently a sizable number of Qashqai tribesmen straddled the road from Shiraz in that vicinity, but did not attempt to interrupt traffic; nevertheless, this display of force so greatly alarmed officials at Firuzabad that they sent frantic messages to Shiraz and eventually some 80 gendarmes on duty in the vicinity simply departed in fright. The incident is indicative of the general uneasiness felt in the area and the possibilities for more serious troubles. The tribesmen in question appeared to be part of a group which remained in the Shiraz vicinity at the time of the northward migration last spring, to oversee Qashqai interests in view of the incident of April 16–17. As Mr. Bryant indicates, the tribes intend to group for the next few months at least in the general vicinity of Fahlian, to the northwest of Shiraz, where this year grazing is more advantageous than in more traditional but drought-stricken areas further south.

For the Ambassador:
Roy M. Melbourne First Secretary of Embassy
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.00/9–1853. Secret; Security Information. Drafted by Gannett. Received September 19. Sent by pouch and copied to Isfahan and London.
  2. Document 316.
  3. Printed as Document 315.
  4. Telegram 484 from Tehran, August 26, is in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.00/8–2653.
  5. Presumably a reference to the August 30 memorandum sent as enclosure no. 2 to despatch 154, September 11, Document 316.