227. Despatch From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State0

No. 721


  • Athens’ Telegram to Dept No. 215 [2136], February 3, 19581


  • New Developments in the Activities of General Qarani

During the past few weeks, there have been new developments in the activities of Gen. Valiollah Qarani and his associates. The first development is covered by the enclosed copy of a memorandum relating to a meeting which took place on January 22, 1958. Officers of the American Embassy met with Gen. Qarani and Mr. Esfandiar Bozorgmehr at the request of these two Iranians, who said they had further views to set forth regarding developments in Iran. The immediate motivation for the meeting probably can be found in the anticipated arrival of the Secretary [Page 538] and Assistant Secretary Rountree, who were scheduled to visit Tehran on their way to the Baghdad Pact Meeting in Ankara.

The second development occurred some days after the Secretary’s departure for Iran. Mr. Bozorgmehr flew to Athens to talk directly with Assistant Secretary Rountree, having read in the Iranian press that Mr. Rountree was then visiting several Middle Eastern countries. It seems that Mr. Bozorgmehr had been planning to visit Washington for this purpose, but seized the opportunity afforded by Mr. Rountree’s presence in Athens to approach him there. Mr. Rountree’s conversation with Mr. Bozorgmehr is covered in Embtel 215 of February 3 from Athens; to the Department.

The third development took place within the past few days. [3–½ lines of source text not declassified] Gen. Qarani and his colleagues had emphasized, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] that one or all following steps should be taken in the relatively near future:

An approach by the American and British Ambassadors to the Shah suggesting, in effect, that the Shah should reign and not rule.

The Iranian Majlis should adopt necessary reforms required for Iran and take steps to see that they are implemented.

[1 paragraph (3 lines of source text) not declassified]

Further developments will continue to be reported. Representatives of the American Embassy plan to maintain their present friendly relations with representatives of Gen. Qarani, and will talk with them as occasions arise. It seems highly desirable to keep abreast of their plans and activities. At the same time, every precaution will be taken to avoid involvement in them.

There has been some speculation as to reasons for the recent spurt in activities of Gen. Qarani and his colleagues. One reason might be an effort to make known their views to the Secretary and Assistant Secretary Rountree. Another reason might lie in current rumors that the Shah was on the verge of authorizing a reorganization of the Iranian military establishment. It has long been common knowledge that there was intense competition among the various intelligence branches of the Iranian armed forces. If reorganization took place, Gen. Qarani, as Vice Chief of Staff of the Iranian Army and de facto G–2, might find himself in a subordinate position to Gen. Haji Ali Kia in his role as J–2 of the Supreme Commander’s staff.

For the Ambassador:
Fraser Wilkins

Minister Counselor
[Page 539]


Memorandum for the Record

At the request of Major General Valiollah Gharani, Vice Chief of Staff, IIA, a meeting was held at the home of Mr. Bozorgmehr, at 1600 hours on 22 Jan 58. Present at the meeting were General Gharani, Mr. Bozorgmehr, Mr. Wilkins, Col Baska and Lt Col Braun. In general both Gharani and Bozorgmehr covered and repeated the same information included in our Air Attaché Report, IR–46–58,3 (a copy of which was given to you in the Ambassador’s office on 16 Jan 58) with the following additional points added or emphasized:
The present government has no popular support and is despised by the mass of Iranian people and particularly by the professional and intellectual groups. The Soviets are quite openly engaged in penetrating and wooing the Iranian people and may soon be in a position to influence the overthrow of the present government and the selection of a new government completely sympathetic to Russia. Therefore, Gharani stated that it is urgent that a change in governments be brought about now by a pro-western group rather than waiting until the Soviets take advantage of the present unrest and discontent of the people.
Bozorgmehr stated for Gharani that they have an intellectual group of 2000 Iranians, 1200 of whom were educated in the U.S. and the balance attended the American University of Tehran. This group is American oriented and ready to form from its membership the nucleus of government officials in the formation of a new government.
The approach to the Shah, that he should reign and not rule, should be made by someone outside of Iran with the inference that Secretary Dulles should make such a demand to the Shah.
The meeting was concluded without General Gharani specifically requesting any action to be taken by Mr. Wilkins or Mr. Dulles. In parting General Gharani stated in private that this meeting was enough for the present, and that additional contacts will be requested at a later date.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 788.00/2–1058. Top Secret.
  2. In telegram 2136 Rountree reported on his discussion in Athens with Bozorgmehr on the situation in Iran. Bozorgmehr informed Rountree that there was “considerably less freedom in Iran than under Mossadeq; that present government was completely without power and some ministers remain only because directed by Shah to do so; businessmen under impossible handicap unless they have financial participation of Shah or corrupt group surrounding Shah; public opinion has swung heavily away from pro-Shah, pro-US position of two years ago; Shah and government have softened considerably toward Soviet Union, with constant danger Iran will accept large-scale Soviet aid.” Rountree reported that Bozorgmehr had no special request but wanted to ensure that the United States knew the true situation in Iran. (Ibid., 788.00/2–258)
  3. Secret; Sensitive; Special Handling Required; Not Releasable to Foreign Nations. Prepared by Colonel John W. Baska, Air Attaché, for Deputy Chief of Mission Wilkins.
  4. Not found.