788.13/7–3152: Telegram

No. 192
The Ambassador in Iran (Henderson) to the Department of State1

top secret

481. I have discussed Deptel 255, London 648, July 292 briefly with Middleton. Recommendations requested in (a) will be subject separate telegram.3

Regarding (b), we were both of opinion that at present it did not seem likely any alternatives to Mosadeq could be brought into power except perhaps by military coup d’état; that we knew of no outstanding military leaders with ability who had strength, standing or intelligence necessary for assuring success of coup d’état, and for governing Iran in case such coup d’état shld be successful; that army officers who seemed to be best fitted for leadership in effecting coup d’état were General Zahedi and General Hedjazi; that these two Generals differed to extent in their political views since Zahedi sympathized with moderates of National Front whereas Hedjazi would probably be primarily interested in setting up strong government which would strengthen hand of Shah and exterminate Communists.…

Regarding (c) coup d’état, to be successful, would have to be carried out and executed entirely by Iranian military in name of Shah without knowledge of Shah since Shah would probably not have stamina to see it through and might at certain stage weaken and denounce leaders, it would probably be necessary for at least commander of army division stationed in Tehran to be fellow conspirator and probably at some point commander of Shah’s bodyguard; it is believed that if army could gain complete control of Tehran and conspirators, in name of Shah, could appoint new chief of staff, most of provinces, except possibly Khuzistan, would recognize new government. Qashqai tribes might cause difficulty. (Such information as has come to us cause us believe trouble from Qashqais might be greater than British seem to think.)

Regarding (d) both Middleton and I agreed that neither British nor American Government should undertake to encourage or support coup d’état and that our two Embassies should not become involved in any way.

We should also bear in mind that successful coup d’état almost certain result in Tudeh gaining control of national movement. Military [Page 428]dictatorship might therefore encounter increasing difficulties in controlling country and in carrying out constructive program.

  1. Repeated to London.
  2. See footnote 2, supra .
  3. Presumably reference is to telegram 480, supra .