788.00/3–1453: Telegram

No. 320
The Ambassador in Iran (Henderson) to the Department of State1

top secret

3692. 1. In present circumstances impossible Embassy have direct contacts with Shah. Nevertheless through confidential channels we have received certain messages from him and other information which enables us assess with some reservation his present attitude and activities regarding differences with Mosadeq. Although Shah’s firmness in face pressure applied by Mosadeq and his supporters appears to fluctuate from time to time, nevertheless he seems still to be showing passive resistance. When for instance members Majlis committee2 who have been trying find basis for composing differences suggested Shah agree give up his constitutional rights as Commander-in-Chief Iran Armed Forces and surrender crown lands and management shrines government Shah inquired if this meant committee desired him to leave country, stating he would depart rather than agree such suggestions. Committee thereupon retreated and instead submitted statement more ambiguous character which Shah signed (Embtel 3667, March 12, repeated London 1217).3

[Page 716]

2. In private conversations with his supporters who have been pleading with him take action Shah has been insisting it would be unwise for him openly oppose Prime Minister until fiction which has been created that Mosadeq great statesman and patriot who can lead Iran into new happy era has been completely abolished. Shah says it becoming more clear daily that Mosadeq unable extricate Iran from political and economic morass into which he has led it and that even to stay in power Mosadeq despite his past criticism of dictators is being compelled resort more and more to dictatorial methods. Shah expresses belief that in not distant future Mosadeq will become completely bankrupt politically and can then be replaced by some more practical political leader without necessity any direct intervention on part Shah. Shah states that in meantime he will continue refuse abandon any powers and privileges granted him under constitution and will continue do all he can protect his subjects who are being persecuted because of their loyalty to him.

3. Shah through trusted Army officers apparently has been trying ascertain just what officers now holding key positions in Armed Forces could be depended upon to be loyal to him if unexpectedly open break should take place between himself and Mosadeq. Shah is in general encouraged by results these inquires, although it seems clear that present Chief Staff and Chief Police if faced with necessity making decision would throw their lot with Mosadeq rather than with Shah.4

  1. Repeated to London.
  2. Reference is to the Majlis Committee of Eight, established to try to resolve the differences between the Shah and Prime Minister Mosadeq.
  3. Not printed. (888.2553/3–1253)
  4. Ambassador Henderson reported on Mar. 20 that in recent interviews he had with Minister of Court Ala, Ala made remarks that tended to confirm the Embassy’s analysis in the first two paragraphs of telegram 3692. Henderson also reported that Ala denied that the Shah had either signed or approved the Parliamentary Committee of Eight statement referred to in paragraph 1 of telegram 3692. (Telegram 3771; 788.00/3–2053)