335. Letter From the Ambassador to Iran (Henderson) to the Director of the Office of Greek, Turkish, and Iranian Affairs, Bureau of Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Richards)1
Attached hereto is a memorandum prepared by [name not declassified] which is almost self-explanatory. General Batmanqilich seems to be dominated by his two deputies, Generals Deihimi and Akhavi, who owe allegiance to Dr. Baqai and who owe their present positions to the support of the Shah. General Batmanqilich, in my opinion, means well but he is politically an infant and fears what might happen to him if Baqai and Baqai’s friends should turn against him.
I met Batmanqilich on the evening of October 17 at a reception and had a frank talk with him. I told him that [name not declassified] had described to me the conversation which [name not declassified] had had with Baqai, as arranged by Batmanqilich. Batmanqilich said that he was glad that [name not declassified] had seen Baqai. Baqai was probably the greatest man in Iran and it was important that the American Embassy should work with him. I said that Baqai had been arguing publicly for [Page 806] an oilless economy and had advocated such an economy in his conversation with [name not declassified]. If Baqai intended to oppose a solution to the oil problem and the exploitation by Iran of its oil, he was in my opinion one of the most dangerous enemies of Iran. Iran could not afford to have dangerous internal enemies at the present time and if Batmanqilich was following a policy of strengthening and collaborating with an Iranian who favored an “oilless economy” he was doing his country great disservice. An oilless economy would mean the doom of Iran.
Batmanqilich was somewhat taken aback. He asked if I could not arrange to meet him, General Deihimi and Baqai secretly. I said the American Ambassador met no one surreptitiously. If Baqai would care to call on me I would be glad to meet him. If Baqai would like to invite me to his house I would go there. There would, however, be nothing secret about such a meeting. The General asked if I would be willing to speak to the Shah about the matter. He was afraid to arrange for me to meet Baqai without the consent of the Shah. I said I would be glad to discuss the whole matter with the Shah.
It is my intention when I next see the Shah to talk with him frankly about the situation in General Staff. I have already touched on the matter during previous conversations with the Shah, who on each occasion changed the subject. During my last talk with the Shah on October 14, I mentioned the danger to the country from the direction of Baqai. The Shah minimized this danger. He said that an opposition was a good thing and in his opinion it was better for Baqai, who was loyal to the regime, to be leader of an opposition than someone who was opposed to the regime. It was clear that the Shah in referring to the regime meant himself. It would seem that the Shah is endeavoring to placate Baqai at a time when Baqai is undermining Zahedi.
The Shah did make the concession in talking with me that it might be a good thing to send Baqai out of the country for a time. He thought Baqai might be a good man to serve as a contact with Iranian students in Europe and America. Baqai was a learned man and could probably be useful in convincing Iranian youth abroad that the Iranian Government was after all progressive. When I suggested to the Shah that Baqai’s particular type of “socialism” might not be a good thing with which to infect the students, the Shah reminded me that he personally thought that socialism might be good for Iran. He repeated that he was rather sympathetic to socialism and in his opinion the future of Iran lay in a marriage between socialism and capitalism.
I have been so busy during the last week with the Congressmen and am at present so much occupied with Mr. Hoover that I fear that I am unable to keep the Department currently informed to the extent [Page 807] that I would like of political developments here.2 I may say that I am not happy with the situation, which seems to be gradually deteriorating. I hope that the Shah and Zahedi will have come to a better working arrangement during their trip to Isfahan. They are returning this morning.