788.00/3–653: Telegram

No. 313
The Ambassador in Iran (Henderson) to the Department of State1

top secret

3576. 1. Arrests or removal from key positions of officers armed forces considered as more loyal to Shah than to Prime Minister are sharpening dissatisfaction in military circles with course events and at same time are rendering it progressively more difficult for this dissatisfaction to be expressed through direct action. Nevertheless possibility and advisability of attempting military coup d’état continues be surreptitiously discussed. Whether these discussions will result in recourse violence or merely in further arrests not fully clear. Tendency of most educated Iranians to prefer talk to action combined with incapacity organize causes us to have considerable doubt ability groups loyal to Shah stage successful coup at this time.

2. According Palace sources Shah has not totally abandoned struggle despite statements ascribed to him to effect he supporting Mosadeq. These sources insist he has sent secret messages to opposition in Majlis and to other civilian and military groups loyal to him asking for continued support and indicating that he has been passive thus far merely because of his belief that he not yet in position openly to resist Mosadeq. These sources say Shah still has hope Mosadeq government will be overthrown by peaceful means in not distant future.

3. Difficult for us believe Shah really would have courage or resolution to take part in movement to effect either by force or peacefully downfall Mosadeq government. He would undoubtedly be frightened at thought of military coup being attempted in his name and if given opportunity would probably try discourage it. Miscarriage of attempted coup would be likely to complete ruin of Shah and dynasty, to result in increase of arrests of persons suspected [Page 702] of pro-British sympathies, and to strengthen forces antipathetic to west.

  1. Also sent to London.