The Ambassador in Iran (Henderson) to the Department of State1
Tehran, March 31, 1953—1 p.m.
3853. Noforn. Eyes only Secy and Byroade.
- On my return March 29 from week Isfahan and Shiraz I found message Ala, Minister Court, wished see me urgently. I saw him morning 30th. He referred article regarding Iran Newsweek March 23 (Embtel 3800 March 24)2 which he said distinctly unfriendly to Iran and harmful relations Iran and US since it was insulting to Shah, Mosadeq and Kashani, three leaders of country. I explained US Government not responsible for Newsweek and I certain garbled and distorted story not leak from US Government officials.
- Ala said he would like inform me regarding developments last ten days. Rift between Mosadeq and Shah too great to be closed. Mosadeq openly active against Shah, sending emissaries provinces to stir up anti-Shah agitation and endeavoring form solid front against Shah of more opportunistic politicians. Mosadeq without success had tried turn Kashani and Zolfagari brothers against Shah. To placate Haerizadeh he had offered him job Inspector of Embassies. Haerizadeh had been tempted but Kashani had persuaded him not to accept. Mosadeq was apparently trying arrange demonstrations over coming weekend in order frighten members Majlis into passing resolution approving report Committee of Eight, which would curtail Shah’s powers and privileges. Practically all elements really concerned regarding future stability Iran were now convinced that unless energetic steps taken to overthrow Mosadeq in immediate future, such influence as Shah still had would disappear and there would be no force left capable of stopping Mosadeq from embarking on any kind irresponsible project which his advisers might suggest.
- Ala said during past week he had been approached by number politicians who insisted he tell Shah if Shah further postponed action regarding Mosadeq it might be too late save Iran. Ala [Page 720]thought they right. Most these elements believed only person available to replace Mosadeq was General Zahedi, Zahedi would have support such political leaders as Kashani, Haerizadeh, Baqai, Zolfagari brothers as well as more conservative elements and army. Maki might also support him. Zahedi had visited Ala secretly three days ago and had indicated he would accept Prime Ministry only if Shah would express desire that he do so and would promise support him. General had said unless Shah would come out openly against Mosadeq there was little chance Majlis would have courage to act. Ala had told Zahedi he was certain Shah would not be willing to act unconstitutionally, Shah would not be party to any coup d’état. Zahedi insisted if Mosadeq was to be overthrown by peaceful means, Shah must make statement at time meeting of Majlis (April 5) condemning Mosadeq for leading country toward ruin. Ala told me he planned try to persuade Shah to make such statement. Ala said he had visited March 29 Borujerdi, most respected Mullah Iran, in order ascertain latter’s attitude regarding Zahedi. Mullah had not committed himself but had seemed sympathetic and had promised let Ala know his decision later.
- Ala said group who interested in overthrow Mosadeq Government had asked him inquire of me whether “US Government was still supporting Mosadeq”. If in my opinion there was still good chance Mosadeq would be able effect settlement oil problem, they might decide postpone taking action.
- I expressed surprise Ala should put such question. I had already informed him several times US not supporting Mosadeq or anyone else as Prime Minister. It was policy American Government maintain as friendly relations as conditions would permit with any Prime Minister who had firman from Shah. Maintenance such relations should not be regarded as evidence that US was supporting any Prime Minister personally. He should further understand US Government could not be associated with coup d’état. If patriotic Iranians should consider coup necessary in order save Iran, they should act on their own responsibility and not expect any foreign power to become involved in such venture. Time had come when Iranians themselves should determine fate country instead of looking to foreigners to make decisions for them. Ala said he had already assured group who had talked to him that US was not supporting Mosadeq as person but was merely treating him with consideration due to Prime Minister Iran. On this groups insistence however he had again put question to me. He promised keep me informed of developments.
- In conversation two weeks ago Ala had told me Mosadeq was blaming him in part for failure Shah to leave Iran February 28 and was insisting Ala be replaced as Minister Court by Kazemi, present [Page 721]Minister Finance, who has been notoriously anti-foreign. Shah however had refused agree such change. Ala said this morning Mosadeq now demanding that Moazami, Nationalist Deputy, supplant Ala. Shah however was continuing resist Mosadeq plea to get rid of Ala.
- Ala’s views usually reflect those of Shah. If they do in present instance it will be first time Court has really regarded Zahedi’s candidacy with favor. Judging however from performance of Shah, Ala, and various opponents of Mosadeq in past, it would be somewhat surprising if at this juncture their desire for the new Prime Minister would get far beyond conversation.
- Zahedi as Prime Minister might be no improvement over Mosadeq. Nevertheless since latter seems persistently to be leading Iran towards disaster, risks involved in change would be not be too great. Although Ala in general has good intentions, he is somewhat lacking in discretion. Furthermore, Shah sometimes discusses confidential matters in presence gossipy courtiers. I therefore consider it advisable not to make kind of reply to Ala’s question which if it should become public might create impression that attempt either by peaceful means or by force to effect change government was inspired by US.
- Extremely important no leak.