CIA Hijinks in Iran, Volume 2
Propaganda, Pressure and Psy-Ops To Help Zahedi

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | November 8, 2018                    

General Fazlollah Zahedi (1892-1963) | Prime Minister of Iran, 1953-1955

The CIA wasn’t done meddling in Iran just because they had rid themselves of their Mossadegh problem. Not by a long shot.

Though this highly truncated CIA report is only half of its original length at the most, it’s still an enlightening window into the extent to which the CIA extended itself in Iran.

The document largely picks up on their June 14th report "Corruption in the Zahedi Government", a June 15th report proposing a “political action/Psychological warfare program in Iran”, and a June 17th report "Details of Opposition to Zahedi Government".

In the service of preserving Premier Zahedi’s rule and preparing the public for an oil agreement, an unidentified mole within the government’s Department of Propaganda was positioned to disseminate the CIA’s preferred talking points throughout Iran.

CIA Documents on Iran, Mossadegh, 1953 Coup

371. Quarterly Report Prepared in the Directorate of Plans, Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, July 8, 1954.


April–June 1954

1. Summary of PP/PM Action: [psychological and political/paramilitary]

The field has continued to give extensive financial, material, and guidance support to an agent highly placed in the Department of Propaganda so as to make more effective the government propaganda program of: 1) preparing public opinion for an oil settlement, 2) convincing the people that the policy of the Mossadeq government was destructive and dangerous in its communist collaboration and usurpation of power, and 3) increasing public support for the Shah and Zahedi. [Fazlollah Zahedi] In addition to continued broadcasting, publishing, and film production, a popular Tudeh song was given anti-communist lyrics and was broadcast frequently over the Tehran and provincial radio stations.

[5 paragraphs (24 lines) not declassified]

2. Summary of Results:

The considerable amount of propaganda put out over the principal informational media has probably increased the chances of public acceptance of an oil agreement, if one is concluded. Propaganda and political action has helped Zahedi retain the premiership in the face of strong pressure from rival political factions.

[2 paragraphs (6 lines) not declassified]

3. Significance of Results:

While the current program is meeting its general objectives, the grave problems created by Iranian political instability have continued to mount. Public antagonism to Zahedi is generally constrained due to government security measures; however, within the Majlis and the cabinet outright opposition to Zahedi is evident. Direct Station pressure upon the Shah has been successful in that the Shah is now giving full support to Zahedi. The Shah has urged, through the Speaker of the Majlis, support of an oil settlement. The Station has reported that ratification of an oil agreement by the Parliament will require concerted effort to overcome present Majlis opposition. In view of the above, and considering the serious consequences to Iranian stability were Zahedi to be removed at this time, a stepped up program in support of the present government is being prepared.

[name not declassified] Acting Chief, NEA/4

[NEA = Near East and Africa Division, Directorate of Plans]

[Annotations by Arash Norouzi]

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

“Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/IMS Files, Job 81–01061R, Box 3, Folder 4, Quarterly Report April–June 1954. Top Secret” — U.S. State Department Office of the Historian

Zahedi & Churchill’s Secret Messages After 1953 Coup
After OPERATION AJAX, CIA Commendations Planned for 1953 Coup in Iran


Related links:

U.S. Amb. Loy Henderson Ponders Interfering in Iran Elections | Jan. 18, 1954

CIA Skeptical About Fazlollah Zahedi’s Grandiose Plans For Iran | August 14, 1953

Allen Dulles Praises Donald Wilber For Propaganda Success In Iran Coup | Jan. 30, 1954

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

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