788.11/2–2553: Telegram

No. 305
The Ambassador in Iran (Henderson) to the Department of State1

top secret

3393. Noforn.

Ala Minister Court came to see me tonight, obviously worried and distressed. Said he wanted to talk in utmost secrecy. During conversation between Shah and Mosadeq on February 24, latter had indicated that it might be good idea after all for Shah leave country as soon as possible and to remain abroad until situation Iran had become more stable. Shah had jumped at chance get out of country; had said he delighted Prime Minister had withdrawn objections to his departure. How soon could he go? Prime Minister had suggested Saturday February 28. During this talk Prime Minister had made no further reference to his previous suggestions that government take over crown lands, Meshed shrine revenues, etc. Prime Minister had insisted he loyal to crown and wanted Shah to go for latter’s own good. Shah’s departure would prevent [Page 682] him from continuing to be innocent victim of intrigues against government.
Shah told Ala this morning his nerves in such condition he could not remain Tehran until February 28; he desired leave Tehran by auto morning February 26 for Baghdad, visit Holy Cities Qerbala and Najaf, and then go to Europe. Ala in vain tried persuade Shah postpone his departure. Shah insisted Ala immediately request travel documents.
Prime Minister told Ala he thought it good idea for Shah leave tomorrow. He could arrange travel documents at once. Ala finally persuaded Prime Minister it would look better if Shah would not go until Saturday. Ala asked re regency in Shah’s absence. Mosadeq said he had not thought of that. He then suggested himself, Ghulam Reza (younger half-brother Shah), and Ala. He refused consider Ali Reza, Shah’s full brother who usually considered next in line of succession.
Shah was perplexed when he learned Mosadeq passing over Ali in favor Ghulam for regency. He feared family rift. Decided to ask Ali accompany him abroad for sake of appearances.
Ala fears hasty departure Shah will be interpreted as flight and will lower Shah’s prestige to such extent as to endanger institution of monarchy. Shah also thinks it possible Mosadeq may follow Naguib’s example. Ala told me he personally in difficult situation. He bound to secrecy by both Shah and Mosadeq. He sees disaster coming yet cannot appeal to other Iranian representatives or leaders for counsel and assistance. He would not remain silent if he convinced any useful purpose could be served in persuading Shah not to leave. Shah at present in almost hysterical state. Ala feared complete nervous breakdown and irrational action if Shah compelled to stay in present circumstances. In order preserve appearances Ala trying arrange for Spanish Government invite Shah for visit. If this arrangement could be effected, it was hoped that first announcement would merely be Shah going on pilgrimage to Iraq. While Shah was in Iraq, announcement could be then made he had accepted invitation to visit Spain.
I agree departure Shah may be first step in direction of abolition of monarchy. I asked Ala if there was anything which I could do. He said that he feared not. I was not supposed to know of these plans and it might do more harm than good for me to take any step which might give impression that he had talked to me about them. In any event, Ala thought neither Mosadeq nor Shah was to be swayed from their decision. Mosadeq so unpredictable it useless for me try prophesy what he will do. Although he has assured both Ala and Shah of his loyalty to Shah it quite possible that some of [Page 683] his advisers who are opposed to monarchy may persuade him in not distant future to demand Shah’s abdication.
  1. Also sent to London.