788.00/8–1753: Telegram

No. 345
The Ambassador in Iraq (Berry) to the Department of State1

top secret

92. For Under Secretary—no distribution. Shah of Iran expressed to Iraqi Government desire to meet me.2 In order to provide Department with first hand account of recent Iranian events as Shah sees them, and recalling his basic pro-western attitude and Department’s policy of supporting him, I called quietly at 9:30 last evening at Iraqi official guest house where he is staying. I found Shah worn from three sleepless nights, puzzled by turn of events, but with no bitterness toward Americans.…

Shah stated that in recent weeks he had felt increasingly that he would have to take action against Mosadeq as the latter became bolder in flouting Iranian Constitution. Therefore, when a fortnight ago it was suggested that he sponsor a military coup he accepted the idea. However, in giving it more thought he decided that such action as he took must be within the framework of his constitutional power, hence, not a coup. Thus, … decided to appoint General Zahedi as Prime Minister in place of Mosadeq. After being assured that everything was arranged and that there was no possibility of failure, he left Tehran for his Caspian Palace in order to put Mosadeq off guard and from there three days ago sent letter of appointment of General Zahedi to Tehran with a trusted Iranian Colonel. The letter was delivered to General Zahedi and he was to choose [Page 747] the timing and method for informing Mosadeq. The Shah expected action would take place that very day. But no action took place, apparently because message arrived too late in day, and no action took place the following day, apparently because it was a holiday. On the third day Mosadeq by some means had been alerted and had had the time to take successful countermeasures so that when the Colonel arrived at Mosadeq’s house he was himself arrested.

This morning the Shah left his Caspian Palace in a Beechcraft with a pilot, one Palace official and his Queen and landed in Baghdad at 10:15. King Faisal returned from Jordan at 11:00. This afternoon the Shah called upon King Faisal and King Faisal returned the call, offering hospitality, but, lacking the supporting presence of his uncle who is in Cairo, seeming somewhat overpowered by events.

The Shah said that he will have to issue a statement very soon and possibly tomorrow. He needs, however, to be informed of the situation in Tehran .… He will try to hold off giving out a statement until he gets advice, but the pressure to issue is great and mounting. He is thinking of saying in his statement that three days ago he dismissed Prime Minister Mosadeq and appointed General Zahedi as Prime Minister, taking his action because Mosadeq had continually violated the constitution. As he himself had sworn, upon ascending the throne, to respect and uphold the constitution, he had no choice, but to remove the Prime Minister of a government acting unconstitutionally. When it was apparent that his orders were not being followed, he left the country to prevent bloodshed and further damage. He is ready to return when he can serve the Iranian people and in the meantime prays for the independence and safety of Iran and that all true Iranians will never allow their country to fall under the control of the illegal Tudeh Party.

The Shah said that he is utterly at loss to understand why the plan failed. Trusted Palace officials were completely sure of its succeeding. … Now he needs information and advice upon his next move. He said that he thought that he should not stay here more than a few days, but would then go to Europe and he hoped eventually to America. He added he would be looking for work shortly as he has a large family and very small means outside of Iran. I tried to boost his morale by saying that I hoped that soon he would return to reign over his people for whom he had done so much, but he replied that Mosadeq was absolutely mad and insanely jealous, like a tiger who springs upon any living thing that it sees moving above him. Shah believes Mosadeq thinks he can form [Page 748] a partnership with the Tudeh Party and then outwit it, but in so doing Mosadeq will become the Dr. Benes of Iran.

  1. Repeated to Tehran.
  2. According to telegram 90 from Baghdad, Aug. 16, the Shah and Queen arrived in Baghdad that morning following the apparent failure of an army coup d’état against the Mosadeq government. (788.11/8–1653)