SAFER AT HOME
U.S. Implores Shah To Stay In Iran
Risks Interference Charge For ‘Stability’ (1953)

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project
| June 23, 2020                                                          


SAFER AT HOME: U.S. Implores Shah To Stay In Iran (Feb. 1953)

In February 1953 the United States government was extremely concerned that the Shah of Iran’s pending departure abroad would severely damage, if not destroy, the monarchy itself, and pleaded with him to remain on Iranian soil. Leading this effort was U.S. Ambassador Loy Henderson.

One of Henderson’s most intriguing dispatches from Iran was a telegram from Feb. 28th summarizing his exhaustive efforts to persuade the young Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to stay put.

That document was a lot less interesting when it was included in the State Department’s controversial Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) volume on Iran released in 1989. Historians condemned it at the time for its total omission of any reference to U.S. or British involvement in Mossadegh’s demise (which was major), making it an absurdly flawed account.

In 2017, the State Department finally released a new, long-awaited FRUS volume on Iran. This new volume republished the Henderson cable released in 1989 — but without the extensive redactions. It only took an additional 28 years, but now it can be told.

Ambassador Loy W. Henderson The unredacted version reveals Henderson’s consciousness of guilt regarding his interference in Iranian political affairs, which he rationalized as a risk worth taking given the circumstances. It also includes a newly added contextual footnote concerning a message from the British concerning, of all people, Queen Elizabeth. Or so it would seem...

All of the following documents directly preceded the climax of the whole affair: a historic mob scene in front of Mossadegh’s home on the evening of Feb. 28th, occurring shortly after Henderson’s desperate cable from Tehran painting a picture of a near-hopeless situation.

That dramatic royalist affront, since known as No’he Esfand, helped motivate the Shah to remain in Iran, and became somewhat of a dress rehearsal for the domestic and foreign dimensions of the August 19th coup.

You can read the entire telegram, along with five other related cables, below. All but the first were released in 2017. Note that the sensitive portions which used to be censored, detailing Henderson’s overt meddling, are highlighted for reference.




788.11/2–2553: Telegram

161. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State [Loy W. Henderson to State Dept.]

Tehran, February 25, 1953—11 p.m.


TOP SECRET
NIACT [night action, requiring immediate attention no matter the time of day]
Noforn. [no foreign distribution]


Loy W. Henderson, U.S. Ambassador to Tehran 3393. 1. Ala [the] Minister [of] Court came to see me tonight, obviously worried and distressed. [Hossein Ala] [He] Said he wanted to talk in utmost secrecy. During [the] conversation between [the] Shah and Mosadeq on February 24, [the] latter had indicated that it might be [a] good idea after all for [the] Shah [to] leave [the] country as soon as possible and to remain abroad until [the] situation [in] Iran had become more stable. [The] Shah had jumped at [the] chance [to] get out of [the] country; had said he [was] delighted [the] Prime Minister had withdrawn [his] objections to his departure. How soon could he go? [The] Prime Minister had suggested Saturday February 28. During this talk [the] Prime Minister had made no (repeat no) further reference to his previous suggestions that [the] government take over crown lands, Meshed shrine revenues, etc. [Mashad] [The] Prime Minister had insisted he [was] loyal to [the] crown and wanted [the] Shah to go for [the] latter’s own good. [The] Shah’s departure would prevent him from continuing to be [the] innocent victim of intrigues against [his] government.

2. [The] Shah told Ala this morning [that] his nerves [are] in such condition [that] he could not (repeat not) remain [in] Tehran until February 28; he desired [to] leave Tehran by auto[mobile] [the] morning [of] February 26 for Baghdad, visit [the] Holy Cities [of] Qerbala and Najaf, and then go to Europe. [Karbala] Ala in vain tried [to] persuade [the] Shah [to] postpone his departure. [The] Shah insisted Ala immediately request travel documents.

3. [The] Prime Minister told Ala he thought it [was a] good idea for [the] Shah [to] leave tomorrow. He could arrange travel documents at once. Ala finally persuaded [the] Prime Minister it would look better if [the] Shah would not (repeat not) go until Saturday. Ala asked re[garding] [a] regency in [the] Shah’s absence. Mosadeq said he had not (repeat not) thought of that. He then suggested himself, Ghulam Reza (younger half-brother [of the] Shah), and Ala. [Gholam Reza Pahlavi] He refused [to] consider Ali Reza, [the] Shah’s full brother who [is] usually considered next in line of [of] succession.

4. [The] Shah was perplexed when he learned [of] Mosadeq passing over Ali in favor [of] Ghulam for regency. He feared [a] family rift. [He] Decided to ask Ali [to] accompany him abroad for [the] sake of appearances.

5. Ala fears [a] hasty departure [of the] Shah will be interpreted as [his] flight and will lower [the] Shah’s prestige to such [an] extent as to endanger [the] institution of monarchy. [The] Shah also thinks it [is] possible Mosadeq may follow Naguib’s example. [In 1952 Mohamed Naguib took over as Premier of Egypt after King Farouk was ousted] Ala told me he [is] personally in [a] difficult situation. He [is] bound to secrecy by both [the] Shah and Mosadeq. He sees disaster coming yet cannot (repeat not) appeal to other Iranian representatives or leaders for counsel and assistance. He would not (repeat not) remain silent if he [were] convinced any useful purpose could be served in persuading [the] Shah not (repeat not) to leave. [The] Shah at present [is] in [an] almost hysterical state. Ala feared [a] complete nervous breakdown and irrational action if [the] Shah [were] compelled to stay in [the] present circumstances. In order [to] preserve appearances Ala [is] trying [to] arrange for [the] Spanish Government [to] invite [the] Shah for [a] visit. If this arrangement could be effected, it was hoped that [the] first announcement would merely be [the] Shah going on [a] pilgrimage to Iraq. While [the] Shah was in Iraq, [an] announcement could then be made [that] he had accepted [an] invitation to visit Spain.

6. I agree [that the] departure [of the] Shah may be [the] first step in [the] direction of [the] abolition of monarchy. I asked Ala if there was anything which I could do. He said that he feared not (repeat not). I was not (repeat not) supposed to know of these plans and it might do more harm than good for me to take any step which might give [the] impression that he had talked to me about them. In any event, Ala thought neither Mosadeq nor [the] Shah was to be swayed from their decision. Mosadeq [is] so unpredictable it [is] useless for me try [to] prophesy what he will do. Although he has assured both Ala and [the] Shah of his loyalty to [the] Shah it [is] quite possible that some of his advisers who are opposed to [the] monarchy may persuade him in [the] not (repeat not) distant future to demand [the] Shah’s abdication.

Henderson


• Note: Bracketed text added for better readability. [Annotations by Arash Norouzi]

• Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Iran, 1951–1954 (2017). An identical version had already been released in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Iran, 1951–1954, Volume X (1989) under the heading “No. 305 The Ambassador in Iran (Henderson) to the Department of State”. Nothing had been redacted.

• “Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.11/2–2553. Top Secret; Security Information; NIACT; Noforn. Repeated to London, Baghdad, and Madrid. Received at 6:05 p.m. Also printed in Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, 1951–1954, pp. 681–683 (Document 305).” — U.S. State Dept. Office of the Historian



162. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State [Loy W. Henderson to State Dept.]

TOP SECRET
NIACT [night action, requiring immediate attention no matter the time of day]

Tehran, February 26, 1953, 1 p.m


Loy W. Henderson, U.S. Ambassador to Tehran 3397. 1. I dislike remaining inactive at [a] time when [the] monarchical institution which we have in [the] past regarded as [a] stabilizing influence [in the] country is in grave danger (Embassy telegram 3393, February 25 repeated London 1102, Baghdad 80, Madrid Unn).1 I realize that for [a] number [of] years in view of [the] peculiar situation [in] Iran it has been one of our policies to support [the] Shah. During [the] last two years it has become increasingly clear that [the] Shah is [a] weak reed. His inability to take decisions coupled with his tendency to interfere in political life has on occasions been [a] disruptive influence. Nevertheless [the] Shah and court are basically pro-West and their present opponents, which include not (repeat not) only [the] radical wing [of the] Iran[ian] party and other nationalist movement elements but also [the] Tudeh [Communists] are in general either unfriendly to [the] West or at best neutral. It would be [a] mistake for us to take [a] position re[garding the] dispute between Mosadeq and [the] court which would result in [the] coalescence [of a] nationalist movement and Tudeh. On [the] other hand [the] collapse of [the] monarchy at this moment leaves [a] clear field to Mosadeq who [is] surrounded by influences not (repeat not) particularly friendly to [the] West.

2. One of our problems is that those groups in Iran which are anti-West or neutralist are in general inclined to be dynamic while those which are inherently friendly toward [the] West are for [the] most part passive and seemingly incapable of organized action. Even Zahedi who has been more dynamic than most political leaders fairly friendly to West, has allowed himself meekly to be arrested. [Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi, a former cabinet member turned leading opposition figure] His arrest would seem [to] eliminate any action against Mosadeq by [the] army.

[3.] I would not (repeat not) hesitate to take some action here to stimulate [the] defense of [the] Shah if I could see any hope of success. For [the] moment I see no (repeat no) hope; nevertheless members of [the] Embassy and other American agencies here [are] endeavoring discreetly to ascertain whether any political or other forces exist which might at least in [the] name of [the] Shah oppose this latest Mosadeq move. [The] Story of [the] Shah’s imminent departure may leak prior [to] his departure. Unless it does it may be difficult to assess [the] attitude [of] various groups re[garding the] Shah since after his departure few [are] likely to indicate support for him.

4. [I] Have no (repeat no) objection [to the] British Government being informed but would prefer [the] details not (repeat not) be furnished which if leaked might serve in identifying [the] source [of] my information. [Ala]

Henderson


• Note: Bracketed text added for better readability. [Annotations by Arash Norouzi]

• Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Iran, 1951–1954 (2017).

• “Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.00/2–2653. Top Secret; Security Information; NIACT. Repeated NIACT to Madrid, London, and Baghdad. Received at 9:24 a.m.” — U.S. State Dept. Office of the Historian

1 Refers to his prior Feb. 25th telegram. [See above on this page]



788.11/2–2753: Telegram

165. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State [Loy W. Henderson to State Dept.]

Tehran, February 27, 1953, 5 p.m.


Loy W. Henderson, U.S. Ambassador to Tehran 3431. 1. [A] Court source extremely close [to the] Shah told [the] Embassy Attaché yesterday evening that [the] Shah on [the] insistence [of] Mosadeq [is] planning [to] leave [the] country very soon. I authorized [the] Attaché [to] convey through this source to [the] Shah my opinion that it might have extremely unfortunate consequences for Iran if [the] latter should leave [the] country just now in [an] apparently hasty manner. [The] Shah sent back [the] message he did not (repeat not) really intend [to] leave [the] country. He [is] only pretending for Mosadeq’s benefit. [The] Message continued that Mosadeq had changed his mind and was now (repeat now) insisting that [the] Shah remain. [The] Shah intended at [the] last moment to defer to Mosadeq’s urging and abandon [the] trip.

2. I had lunch with Ala today. [Court Minister Hossein Ala] He had just received [a] phone call from [the] Shah who apparently was disturbed at leaks re[garding] his departure plans. [The] Shah had asked Ala [to] impress on me secrecy. Ala said [the] Shah had told him that if his plans should become known prematurely, developments might take place which would prevent his departure. I asked Ala if [the] Shah seriously intended [to] leave. He replied in [the] affirmative; arrangements were being made for [the] Shah to broadcast [a] message to his people at about 4 p.m. February 28 stating [his] reasons for departure. [The] Shah would leave by car at 5 p.m. accompanied by [the] Queen, [Soraya] two servants, several guards. Gharagozlu, [the] master [of] ceremonies, [Mohsen Gharagozlou] and [his] wife would proceed [to] Baghdad by plane March 1 to join [the] Shah’s party. After [a] visit in Spain [the] Shah and Queen plan [to] go to Switzerland for winter sports and medical treatment. I believe despite [the] message allegedly sent [to] me by [the] Shah he really intends [to] leave Saturday evening.

3. Ala says it [is] extremely important that so far as possible [the] press US [U.S. media] [should] be influenced to take [the] line that there [is] no (repeat no) great political significance in [the] Shah’s departure. Speculation comparing [the] Shah with Farouk would weaken [the] Shah’s position. [There is] No (repeat no) real parallel. Mosadeq has given [his] word of honor [that] he will not (repeat not) undermine [the] Shah in [the] latter’s absence and [the] Shah believes Mosadeq. They are lunching together today.

Henderson


• Note: Bracketed text added for better readability. [Annotations by Arash Norouzi]

• Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Iran, 1951–1954, (2017). The original 1989 version was classified as “No. 306 The Ambassador in Iran (Henderson) to the Department of State”. Highlighted text shows the portions that were redacted in the 1989 FRUS volume and restored in 2017.

• “Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.11/2–2753. Top Secret: Security Information; NIACT. Repeated NIACT to London and Baghdad. Received at 12:14 p.m. The telegram is printed with redactions in Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, 1951–1954, p. 683 (Document 306).” — U.S. State Dept. Office of the Historian

• Footnote from the 1989 FRUS: “In telegram 4844 the Embassy in London reported that it had informed the Foreign Office of the substance of telegram 3431 from Tehran.” — U.S. State Dept. Office of the Historian



164. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iran [John Foster Dulles to Loy Henderson]

Washington, February 27, 1953, 5:43 p.m.


Sec. of State John Foster Dulles 2238. In view [of the] Shah’s apparent desire [to] leave Iran and Mosadeq’s position that [the] Shah should leave, [the] Department sees little which could usefully be done to prevent [the] Shah’s departure. We are currently assessing [the] significance [of] this crisis and developments likely [to] flow from [the] Shah’s departure, and would appreciate any comments you may have in amplification [of] urtel 33972 rpt London 1103.1 [your Feb. 26th telegram, repeated to London] Department will attempt [to] minimize to [the] press [the] significance [of the] Shah’s departure [to] Iran but there is every likelihood [the] press will take [the] line that [the] Shah has fled Iran and his case is similar to Farouk’s. [In July 1952 King Farouk of Egypt abdicated, fleeing to Italy]

Dulles


• Note: Bracketed text added for better readability. [Annotations by Arash Norouzi]

• Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Iran, 1951–1954 (2017).

• “Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.11/2–2753. Top Secret; Security Information; Limited Distribution; Priority. Drafted by Stutesman and approved by Richards. Repeated to London.” [John Stutesman, John D. Jernegan and Arthur L. Richards] — U.S. State Dept. Office of the Historian

1 “Document 162.” [See above on this page]



788.11/2–2853: Telegram

166. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State [Loy W. Henderson to State Dept.]

TOP SECRET
NIACT [night action, requiring immediate attention no matter the time of day]

Tehran, February 28, 1953, 5 p.m.


SENT DEPT 3449, LONDON 1223, BAGHDAD 89, ANKARA 25, DHARAN 77

Loy W. Henderson, U.S. Ambassador to Tehran 3449. Early this morning stories regarding [the] imminent departure [of the] Shah [have been] pouring in from many sources. These stories had conflicting details. Altho some reflected confusion and bewilderment, there seemed [to] be [a] general impression that [the] Shah’s decision [to] depart was in some way connected with friction between him and [the] Prime Minister. [The] Most common version was that [the] Shah had decided [to] leave because Mosadeq was threatening [that] if [the] Shah did not (rpt not) do so he would issue [a] proclamation to [the] country criticizing [the] Shah and asking people to choose between [the] Shah and himself.

2. [The] Embassy Attaché reported that at [a] dinner yesterday evening attended by Bazaar merchants, Qashqai Chieftain Khosro, and others, rumors of [the] Shah’s departure in [the] immediate future was [a] chief source [of] conversation. [Khosrow Khan Qashqai] Practically all guests present, with [the] exception [of] Khosro who privately expressed gratification that [the] Shah was leaving indicated in their opinion [that the] Shah’s departure would be detrimental to [the] interests [of the] country. Similarly at [a] dinner attended by myself last evening [the] editor of [the] largest newspaper in [the] country and chief protocol [of the] Foreign Office told me of rumors expressing their concern at [the] ultimate effects on [the] country.

3. I decided this morning that since [the] news was now out I was more free than hitherto to try to effect cancellation or at least postponement [of the] Shah’s plans [to] leave [the] country. Unable [to] obtain [an] appointment with [the] Foreign Minister [Hossein Fatemi] I was able [to] arrange [to] see Ala, Minister Court, at 11:15. Ala had just returned from [an] audience with [the] Shah. He told me he had done [the] utmost [to] persuade [the] Shah at [the] last moment not (repeat not) to leave. [The] Shah however was determined insisting that if he did not (repeat not) depart Mosadeq would issue [a] proclamation attacking him and members [of his] his family; it would be difficult for him without [the] necessary facilities effectively to answer [the] charges which would be made against him. He preferred [to] leave [the] country to becoming involved in [a] one-sided squabble. Ala said that while he was with [the] Shah word had been received that at [the] instance [insistence] [of] Kashani, President [of the] Majlis, [Majles = Parliament] who claimed to have heard news of [the] Shah’s departure only this morning, [an] informal closed meeting of some 57 members [of the] Majlis was taking place to discuss [the] situation. [Ayatollah Kashani] When [the] Shah received this news he had become excited and insisted on leaving at once before lunch because he was afraid that if he did not (rpt not) get away so much pressure would be brought upon him that he would have difficulty leaving without incident. I told Ala that as Minister [of] Court I conceived it to be his duty to inform [the] Shah that in [the] interest of [the] country [the] Shah should not (rpt not) leave in this fashion. I also asked him [to] tell [the] Shah that I had just received [a] message indicating that [a] very important personage for whom [the] Shah had most friendly feelings had also expressed [the] sincere hope that [the] Shah could be dissuaded from leaving [the] country (London telegram 195, February 27 repeated Washington 4844).1 [The VIP message was via Anthony Eden, but erroneously attributed to Queen Elizabeth] Ala asked if [the] Shah’s present adviser, Valatbar, could join our conversation. [Abol Fath Valatabar] I agreed and at Ala’s request repeated to Valatbar what I had just told Ala. Ala said he thought it would be [a] good idea if I could talk directly with [the] Shah. Would I object? I said in [the] circumstances even though I might later be charged with interference in Iran[ian] affairs, I would welcome [the] opportunity. Dala [sic—Ala] called [the] Shah on inter-Palace telephone and after [a] few minutes [of] conversation said [the] Shah [was] unable [to] see me personally since [the] Prime Minister [was] already on [his] way to [the] Palace to bid him farewell. [The] Shah would appreciate it however if I would talk to him to telephone. I asked Ala if he [was] sure [the] telephone [was] not (rpt not) tapped; Ala said every possible precaution [had been] taken in this respect.

4. Despite [the] risks involved I talked with [the] Shah. I told him that in [the] present emergency I had had no (rpt no) time to obtain instructions from Washington but I knew [the] US Government policies sufficiently well to be confident that [the] US Government just as I considered it would not (rpt not) be in [the] interest [of] Iran for him [to] leave [the] country so hastily in [the] present circumstances. No (rpt no) matter what kind of announcement he or [the] Iran[ian] Government might make [the] impression would be created through-out [the] world that he was departing under duress. Furthermore after he departed Communist and other internal enemies of [an] independent Iran would fabricate stories against him. It would be charged that his sudden departure was proof he was not (rpt not) worthy [of] remaining as [the] Shah. He represented [a] symbol [of] unity and also hope for [the] future [of] Iran throughout [the] country. His departure would be sure to lower [the] morale of those enlightened elements of [the] country who understood Iran’s external dangers and were anxious [to] preserve Iran[ian] independence. [The] Shah repeated he must go immediately. He had promised [the] Prime Minister he would leave today. He could not (rpt not) go back on his word. I said when you gave your word it must have been with [the] understanding that your departure would be secret and would be accompanied by announcements which would assure your country and [the] world at large that you [were] proceeding abroad for purposes not (rpt not) connected with [the] Iran[ian] internal situation. Rumors [were] now afloat that you [are] leaving in order [to] prevent [the] Prime Minister from issuing [a] public statement denouncing you and your family. No (rpt no) one would believe that your departure [was] entirely voluntary. [The] Shah replied, “I [am] not (rpt not) leaving under duress. [The] Prime Minister insists that I do not (rpt not) have to go unless I desire [to] do so. He says, however, that if I remain he will be compelled [to] issue [a] proclamation attacking me and my family. In such circumstances I prefer to leave.” I said I [was] quite prepared to take this matter up with [the] Prime Minister personally. He replied, “it will be useless. He will tell you I am leaving on my own volition and he cannot stop me.” I said “not (rpt not) only [the] US Government and American people in my opinion will be shocked at your departure in [the] present situation but many other friends of yourself and Iran throughout world.” I pointed out that rumors of his impending departure had already penetrated other countries. In [an] indirect way I gave him [an] understand[ing] [of the] views regarding his departure of [the] person referred to in [the] reference[d] telegram. [Queen Elizabeth, though it was not in fact her] [The] Shah expressed appreciation, but insisted he must go. He said he wished to thank [the] US Government and myself personally for friendship and support. He would now (rpt now) bid me farewell. He hoped and expected to return.

5. After this conversation Ala said “you see how hopeless it is”. He expressed hope despite [the] Shah’s negative attitude [that] my conversation might still have some effect. I told him I [was] prepared [to] go at once to [the] Prime Minister. Did he perceive any objection? Ala replied not (repeat not) insofar as [the] court was concerned. He [was] not (repeat not) sure that [the] Prime Minister would appreciate my intervention.
At that moment [a] messenger informed Ala that [the] Bureau of [the] Majlis had arrived with [a] request that Ala arrange for it [to] deliver [an] urgent message to [the] Shah. I returned to [the] Embassy.

6. On my arrival I learned that members [of the] Majlis in [a] secret session had decided [to] send [a] message to [the] Shah to [the] effect that his departure from [the] country at this time would be inadvisable. I was also told by [the] acting Air Attaché that [the] Chief [of] Air Staff had just informed him that General Baharmast[’s] Chief of Staff was en route [to the] Palace to inform [the] Shah that [the] whole General Staff had decided to resign in [the] case [the] Shah should leave [the] country. Thus far [he was] unable to obtain confirmation [of the] firmness of resolve [of the] General Staff in this respect.

Baharmast [is] not (repeat not) [a] strong character and he might well wilt in delivering [the] General Staff message to [the] Shah. [Gen. Mahmoud Baharmast] General Zimmerman thinks Baharmast [is a] rather weak character. [Maj. Gen. Wayne C. Zimmerman]

7. I decided [to] make [the] endeavor [to] see [the] Prime Minister at once and asked Saleh [the] Embassy Iranian Adviser [to] seek [an] appointment. [Allahyar Saleh, Ambassador to the U.S.] Saleh learned from Mosadeq[’s] Secretary that [the] Prime Minister [was] in [the] Palace with [the] Shah. At Saleh’s request [the] Secretary left at once for [the] Palace to tell Mosadeq [that] I wished [to] see him urgently. I called on Mosadeq at 1:15.

8. Mosadeq [was] back in bed apparently suffering from [a] severe headache. He received me in [a] friendly though guarded manner. I told him I [was] coming without awaiting instructions from Washington in view of what seem[ed] to me [the] urgency of [the] situation. [There are] Widespread rumors throughout city that [the] Shah was leaving Iran at once because if he did not (repeat not) do so [the] Prime Minister would issue [a] proclamation denouncing him and [his] family. As [a] friend of Iran and as his personal friend I considered it my duty [to] tell him that [the] departure [of the] Shah just now would tend [to] confirm these rumors. Support of Iran[ian] independence was [our] basic policy re[garding] Iran. In my opinion and I [was] sure my opinion represented that of [the] US Government [the] Shah’s hasty departure in these circumstances would weaken [the] security [of the] country and I therefore, had come to him in [the] hope that he could take some last minute measure to prevail on [the] Shah not (repeat not) to leave or at least to postpone his departure. Mosadeq replied [that the] Shah preferred to leave [the] country. He did not (repeat not) request him [to] do so and was not (repeat not) in [a] position [to] order him not (repeat not) to do so. At this very moment groups of persons including representatives [of] British agents were in [the] Palace trying [to] persuade [the] Shah not (repeat not) [to] leave. Some of these people had entered [the] Palace while he was telling [the] Shah farewell and had made unnecessary scenes. [The] Shah was receiving these people freely and could decide for himself what to do. I asked [the] Prime Minister why it was necessary for him to issue [a] proclamation which clearly would be critical of [the] Shah unless [the] Shah left. [The] Prime Minister replied [that] he could not (repeat not) institute necessary reforms or obtain [a] solution [to the] oil problem so long as [the] court served as [the] basis of operations of British agents who were trying [to] stir up dissension in [the] country. Unity was necessary if Iran was successfully to emerge from [the] present crisis. I told [the] Prime Minister [I] had myself some knowledge of [the] Shah’s attitude and I [was] convinced [the] Shah [was] not (repeat not) engaging in or countenancing [the] participation of [the] court in activities against [the] interest [of] Iran.

[The] Prime Minister maintained that people around [the] Shah were causing great injury to [the] country. After some discussion it became clear [that] it [was] quite useless [to] endeavor [to] prevail on [the] Prime Minister [to] alter his attitude. I told [the] Prime Minister [that] I regretted having troubled him personally at [a] time when I knew he [was] harassed with many worries. I had hoped [to] discuss [the] matter in [a] preliminary way with [the] Foreign Minister but had been unable to obtain [an] appointment today. I had therefore called on Ala who clearly was not (rpt not) in [a] position [to] deny [that the] Shah was leaving almost immediately. My call on [the] Prime Minister had been prompted by [my] hope that [the] latter would cooperate in preventing developments which might ultimately if not (rpt not) almost immediately have consequences unfavorable to Iran. [The] Prime Minister said it would be better for me if I did not (rpt not) make calls on Ala or anyone else connected with [the] court at this critical time. I was opening myself to charges of interfering in [the] internal affairs [of] Iran. I said I [was] fully conscious [of] this danger but in my profession it [was] sometimes necessary [to] take risks just as it was necessary for him sometimes to take risks as Prime Minister. I would regret being charged with intervention but I would prefer charges [of] this kind to [the] feeling that I had failed to do all that I possibly could to advance [the] interests of [a] friendly country to which I was accredited as well as [the] interests [of] world peace. [The] Prime Minister altered his attitude and in [a] more friendly manner repeated that he was not (rpt not) insisting that [the] Shah leave [the] country. If [the] Shah did not (rpt not) do so he had no (rpt no) choice other than to issue [a] proclamation to [the] Iran[ian] people. I said that in his political career he had undoubtedly on previous occasions found it possible to prevent differences from developing into open conflict which would be harmful to [the] country. Was he sure that he had no (rpt no) alternative other than to issue [a] proclamation critical of [the] Shah and court unless [the] Shah should leave [the] country? [The] Prime Minister said he had given this matter much thought and he considered that he was following [the] proper course.

9. Before departing I gave [the] Prime Minister [a] note amending alternative text of [the] original Compensation Agreement as suggested in London telegram 194, Feb 27, repeated Department 4838.3 [“Not printed. (888.2553/2–2753)”] We agreed that in case of press inquiries both he and I should merely state that during [the] course [of] my visit I had corrected [a] minor omission in one of [the] documents which I had handed him on February 20.2

10. On my way to [the] Prime Minister’s residence I found all neighboring streets blocked with soldiers. On my departure 50 minutes later I observed still more soldiers. Groups of persons in [a] surly mood apparently ready for demonstrations of some kind were observed gathering in [the] vicinity.3

HENDERSON

BB:/JKS/11

Note: Read by Mr. Stutesman (GTI) 1:40 p.m. 2/28/53 FWH. [John H. Stutesman, Jr., Officer in Charge of Iranian Affairs, Office of Greek, Turkish, and Iranian Affairs for the State Dept.]


• Note: Bracketed text added for better readability. [Annotations by Arash Norouzi]

• Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Iran, 1951–1954 (2017). The original censored version from Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Iran, 1951–1954, Volume X (1989) was classified as “No. 308 The Ambassador in Iran (Henderson) to the Department of State”. It was “Transmitted in four sections.” Highlighted text shows the portions that were redacted in the 1989 FRUS volume, restored in 2017.

• “Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.11/2–2853. Top Secret; Security Information; NIACT. Repeated to London, Baghdad, Ankara, and Dhahran. Received at 12:11 p.m. This telegram is printed with redactions in Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, 1951–1954, pp. 685–688 (Document 308).” — U.S. State Dept. Office of the Historian

1 “In telegram 4844 to Tehran, February 27, the Department relayed a message from the Embassy in London that reads in part: “Foreign Office this afternoon informed us of receipt message from Eden from Queen Elizabeth expressing concern at latest developments re Shah and strong hope we can find some means of dissuading him from leaving country.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.11/2–2753)” — U.S. State Dept. Office of the Historian

2 “See Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, 1951–1954, pp. 670–674 (Document 300).” — U.S. State Dept. Office of the Historian

3 “Jernegan and Richards informed Henderson on Feb. 28 that they concurred completely with Henderson’s decision to take the measures, which he had reported in telegram 3449 from Tehran, to discourage the Shah’s departure. (Telegram 2254; 788.11/2–2853)” [John D. Jernegan and Arthur L. Richards. Footnote from Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Iran, 1951–1954, Volume X 1989)] — U.S. State Dept. Office of the Historian



167. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iran [John Foster Dulles to Loy Henderson]

Washington, February 28, 1953, 6:50 p.m.


Sec. of State John Foster Dulles 2254. Dept completely concurs [with] your decision [to] take energetic measures [to] discourage [the] Shah’s departure (Urtel 3449 rptd London 1124),1 believing that [the] risk involved was worth taking in [a] fluid situation. Deptel 2238 rptd London 57522 was not rpt not intended [to] discourage you from taking such action, but, since we [were] then unable [to] foresee circumstances where intervention could be useful (Urtel 3397 rptd London 1103),3 only to assure you that inactivity in [the] crisis would be understood here.

Dulles


• Note: Bracketed text added for better readability. [Annotations by Arash Norouzi]

• Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Iran, 1951–1954 (2017).

• “Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.11/2–2853. Top Secret; Security Information; NIACT. Drafted by Stutesman, cleared by Jernegan, and approved by Richards. Repeated to London” [John Stutesman, John D. Jernegan and Arthur L. Richards] — U.S. State Dept. Office of the Historian

1 “Document 166.” [See above on this page]

2 “Document 164.” [See above on this page]

3 “Document 162.” [See above on this page]



The U.S.-Britain Alliance To Erase Mossadegh Was Not Inevitable
The U.S.-Britain Alliance To Erase Mossadegh Was Not Inevitable

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Related links:

Amb. Loy Henderson Ponders Interfering in Iran’s Elections (Jan. 18, 1954)

LOST IN IRAQ: The Shah’s Baghdad Sojourn (August 16, 1953)

Mossadeq Wants Monarchy To Stay | “SHAH SHOULD REIGN AND NOT RULE” (April 1953)



MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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