247. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State0
395. One month after Iraq coup, Iran is on surface calm and stable but with underlying tension and anxiety. Govt officials take public attitude that Baghdad coup had no direct effect on Iran, but admit deep concern and uncertainty in private.
All elements expect some sort of trouble eventually in Kurdistan and Khuzistan. Officials who have written off importance of minorities these border areas now suddenly solicitous their welfare, considering plans for revision administration there, for speeding up economic development, for improving and extending hitherto neglected propaganda efforts in local languages. There is some hope, but little expectation, that new Iraq regime may remain independent Cairo and Moscow and not allow itself to be used as base for subversive attacks against Iranian regime.
Mosadeq-type individuals and small opposition groups in Tehran are markedly more confident and ubiquitous than before coup. It is not uncommon to hear casual mention possible assassination Shah among otherwise sober middle-class civilians. Conservatives also freely criticize Shah’s methods of rule. There can be no doubt that criticism of regime and preliminary discussions of ways and means of action against it are spreading among officer corps, both those sympathetic to Mosadeqist movement and those arch-conservatives who attained [Page 584]reputations as leaders of 1953 anti-Mosadeq coup. These developments mainly due to psychological effect of witnessing successful military coup in neighboring country against regime believed to have been much more effective than Shah’s government in key fields of internal security and economic development.
Shah was apparently depressed and even somewhat frightened on his return to Tehran few days after Baghdad coup. Afterwards his spirits appeared to improve, but he recently is again reported to be nervous and disconcerted. Royal family and court circles are obviously jumpy and concerned. Palace Guard has been strengthened by transfer of tanks, which now in evidence in palace grounds. Records of senior officers and occupants other key military positions being carefully checked over to weed out possible disloyal elements. Shah talks of new measures increase public confidence in regime. Recent arrests among officer corps (see Embtel 384)1 and wild rumors resulting from current squabbling between principal security chiefs will continue to keep him on edge.
Censorship of press has been tightening, with particular emphasis on items linking events in Iraq with Iran, even indirectly. (For example, big newspaper recently censored for referring to success of Baghdad regime in bringing down price of bread—price of bread is important sore point among Tehran populace.) Shah was reliably reported to be “furious” over wire service story from Germany alleging that Menderes had warned Adenauer that Shah was in shaky position.
In general there is at least temporary widespread feeling uneasiness and anxiety over situation in Iran although nobody is predicting with confidence course of future events.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 788.00/8–1458. Secret. Repeated to London, Baghdad, Karachi, Isfahan, Khorramshahr, Meshed, and Tabriz.↩
- Telegram 384, August 14, reported that between 4 and 18 Iranian Army and Gendarmerie officers, most of field grade, were arrested during the past 2 days for alleged anti-regime political activity. The Embassy did not see any serious danger to the Shah’s government, and raised the possibility that the arrests might be the result of infighting among Iran’s security and intelligence agencies. (Ibid.)↩