788.00/5–2852: Telegram

No. 176
The Ambassador in Iran (Henderson) to the Department of State1


4609. 1. Ala, Min Court, came see me last evening. He said that Mosadeq talked with Shah for more than two hours early in day; that altho conversation had begun amicable vein PriMin had suddenly told Shah that Court and Army had been interfering brazenly in elections and this interference had caused him postpone elections. Mosadeq also took occasion again accuse Queen Mother and other members Royal family of carrying on intrigues against him and his govt and insisted Shah take steps keep Court and Army out Iranian politics.

2. According to Ala, Shah heatedly denied these charges. He said if any criticism was to be made against conduct elections it shld be made primarily against supporters Mosadeq, particularly Kashani and his friends, who had rigged elections and used terror in order bring about defeat candidates whom they particularly disliked. Shah said Mosadeq himself had been guilty making unfair attacks on various leading Iranian statesmen such as Hekmat, former President Majlis, at present candidate from Shiraz. Mosadeq softened somewhat in face Shah’s counterattack and said he not accusing Shah personally of being implicated interference in elections or in political intrigues. Ala said Shah continued to take offensive; pointed out that he had been uniformly correct in his support Mosadeq even though he was not sure Mosadeq was leading country in right direction. Shah pointed out Mosadeq thus far had not explained to him how he hoped with his present policies to extricate Iran from its financial situation.

3. Ala said that after talking with Shah, Mosadeq called on him in extremely depressed mood. Mosadeq’s dejection had been deepened as result of altercation which he had had during day with four Senators who were to accompany him to Hague. Apparently, Senators had wanted to go as members official mission and Mosadeq had insisted that they wld go only as his personal advisers. This result differences, Senators had decided not to go. Saleh, former Min Interior, however, was accompanying Mosadeq to Hague to be of such assistance as might be possible.

4. Ala said that yesterday afternoon Shah had told him of conversation with Mosadeq and had said that steps must be taken in [Page 385] near future to have Mosadeq replaced. Shah had said feeling against Mosadeq now so high he cld not delay taking action much longer. Ala said that Shah had requested him to call on me at once in order ask me directly and frankly whether in my opinion US Govt was actually supporting Mosadeq as was being charged and really desired that Mosadeq remain as PriMin. Ala said Shah and he knew that I had been careful not to interfere in internal politics and that they hoped that I wld not consider it incorrect to give frank answers to their questions. Shah needed have answer when making certain decisions.

5. Told Ala in my opinion US Govt had been giving Mosadeq same degree cooperation as it wld give any PriMin of friendly country who showed desire for such cooperation. It had not, however, been supporting Mosadeq as a politician. Shah must be fully aware of various problems which US had faced during last year in its relations with Iran because of Mosadeq’s personal attitude. In my conversations with Mosadeq I had never hidden from him my belief he was leading Iran in dangerous direction. For sometime I personally had been convinced that in view attitude of UK and of Mosadeq’s, no solution of oil problem cld be found so long as Mosadeq retained as PriMin. I believed and I thought US Govt had same belief, that solution oil problem necessary if Iran’s internal and international situation was to become normal in foreseeable future. I had great admiration for certain qualities PriMin and I knew US Govt held him in high esteem. Nevertheless, his unreasonableness in certain matters, such as, for instance, his unyielding opposition to presence Brit oil technicians in Iran, was causing harm to Iran and to entire community free nations.

6. Ala expressed appreciation for “my frankness”. He said that Shah had decided that time was near at hand when there must be change in govt but he did not wish to make any move without consultation with me. Shah did not know how he might best proceed in matter and had asked Ala’s advice. Ala wondered whether I cld personally and confidentially, offer my suggestions. I said I not well enough acquainted with background venture give advice. It had occurred to me however that after PriMin had presented Iran’s case to Int Court, and after court had taken matter under advisement, Shah cld send message to PriMin, telling him that situation in Iran demanded his immediate return, suggesting that he come back at once without waiting for decision Int Court. Shah, by asking Mosadeq to return, wld have assumed leadership in polit crisis and upon PriMin’s return Shah by series other measures cld maintain this leadership. Ala again thanked me. He said he thought it a good idea for Shah to get PriMin back into Iran just as soon as possible. It wld be particularly helpful if Mosadeq wld be in [Page 386] Iran when decision handed down so he cld not use it in dramatizing his return.

7. Ala said that Shah had also had long talk yesterday afternoon with Saleh and was more favorably impressed than ever with latter’s reasonable attitude and high ideals. Saleh had been quite critical of PriMin and had expressed complete devotion to Shah. Shah was seriously considering advisability of naming Saleh as Mosadeq’s successor. I told Ala I had already expressed my tentative views re Saleh, whose attitude re US and West in general was reputed not to be friendly.

Ala asked what I thought of Entezam. I said altho I did not know Entezam well, I thought him person of considerable ability, possessing broad outlook. Ala cld judge better than I whether he had the strength of character and the moral hardihood to make the clearcut decisions which next PriMin shld make if country was to be saved.

8. Dept will understand that I have leaned over backwards not to become involved in Iranian internal affairs. I responded as I did to Ala’s questions during present conversation because I believe that if I had not done so both Shah and Ala wld have obtained impression that I unwilling talk frankly with them. As result my present relationship with them might have been adversely affected. Furthermore, it seemed to me that I shld not be evasive when trustworthy emissary of Shah approaches me in this fashion.2

  1. Transmitted in two sections.
  2. On May 29 the Department informed Henderson that it concurred completely with his handling of the situation to date, and that it did not believe the United States should suggest any names of candidates for the premiership. The Department did not object, however, if Henderson commented upon specific names which the Shah might put forward. (Telegram 2731; 788.13/5–2952)