788.00/7–1753: Telegram

No. 334
The Chargé in Iran (Mattison) to the Department of State1


116. Estimate Embassy … present political trends follows. Immediate reason Mosadeq’s precipitate move eliminate present Majlis as opposition center was mounting effectiveness antigovernment activity such as Zohari interpellation and election Maki as controller BMI. Opposition was also successfully gaining control key Majlis committees. Serving accelerate these events and impel Mosadeq consolidate his position urgently was Eisenhower letter clarifying US policy toward Mosadeq Government. Letter served belie carefully nursed “myth” US supporting Mosadeq at same time USSR “friendship” overtures appear to be for moment at least nothing more than willingness adjust frontier problems. With bankruptcy foreign policy thus exposed Prime Minister faced Majlis interpellation this subject and exposure government’s unauthorized increase note issue by Maki. Unable or disinclined resort to Shah’s power dissolve Majlis Mosadeq struck upon expedient of [Page 737] mass resignation NMF deputies and announcement referendum.2 Latter not provided for in constitution.

Despite Prime Minister’s decreased popularity he still controls principal propaganda media including Radio Tehran as well as government apparatus and funds with which maneuver balloting or demonstrations his favor. Timing also important factor. By invoking memory July 21 uprising Prime Minister can play upon emotions his followers and upon fear his enemies. While opposition continues display courageous facade it appears incapable combatting Mosadeq in showdown struggle. It furthermore lacks leadership while Shah continues docile in hands Prime Minister.

Thus despite almost hopeless financial and economic situation and lack tangible prospects resolving country’s problems in foreseeable future Mosadeq again demonstrating willingness disregard legalities and determination remain in power regardless of consequences. If he succeeds confirming dissolution Majlis through referendum as now seems probable establishment dictatorship will be complete with little remaining of outward democratic forms. Prime Minister will then be in position destroy remaining opposition leaving him in unchallenged and absolute control.

  1. Repeated to London and Geneva for Ambassador Henderson.
  2. According to despatch 44 from Tehran, July 18, Mosadeq had not yet decided that he would conduct a referendum on the dissolution of the 17th Majlis, but, rather, that he would hold elections for a new and completely amenable Majlis. (788.00/7–1853)