The Powers That Be

August 5, 1953 — The Daily Gleaner

The Mossadegh Project | October 30, 2016                        

A Kingston, Jamaica newspaper editorial on Iran from 1953, weeks before the coup that ousted Premier Mossadegh.

The Daily Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica)


Since his return to power in Persia a little over a year ago, Dr. Mossadeq’s ambition seems to be to centralize in his own hands all reins of authority in that country. His attacks on the constitutional power of the Shah have driven the latter into the background of Persian politics, though his rights have not yet been legally curtailed. The full force of Mossadeq’s latest attacks on rival authority has been directed against the Majlis — or Persian Parliament—he is conducting a referendum to secure popular approval for the dissolution of that body. This would clear the way for him to arrogate unto himself the Shah’s former powers, including full control over the army.

Dr. Mossadeq’s main rival in the fight for domination in Persia has long been Mullah Ayatullah Kashani. [Ayatollah Seyed Abolghassem Kashani] Ousted from his Speakership of the Majlis, he had recourse to his extensive spiritual authority to forbid Persian Moslems to take part in the plebiscite. Such votes as have been cast are in favour of Mossadeq’s proposed dissolution of the Majlis; but it is apparent that the overwhelming majority of the Persian people have heeded the Mullah’s injunction to abstain from voting.

The severest reverse which Dr. Mossadeq has encountered the past year has lain in the refusal of either Great Britain or the United States to demonstrate any active interest in the internal affairs of Persia, or to seek to reopen the Persian oil dispute. [On the contrary!] The initiative in that direction must now come from Persia, and the West seems reconciled to the possibility that that country may form closer links with Moscow in the effort to find markets for its oil. [No]

Within Persia, Dr. Mossadeq has formed a kind of working alliance with Tudeh — the Persian Communist Party — in order to combat the mass popularity of Kashani. [How so?] Members of Tudeh have been able to infiltrate the administration of the country. Recent demonstrations against Kashani, by separate Tudeh and pro-Mossadeq mobs, saw the latter outnumbered by two to one.

Even if Dr. Mossadeq succeeds in extending and perpetuating his power in Persia, it can only be at the cost of growing concessions to Tudeh. At the same time, Kashani is still far from beaten. His political influence has always been exerted under cover—through terrorisation, assassination and the judicious use of fanatical mobs — rather than through regular constitutional machinery.

The immediate future prospects for Persia are far from encouraging. Moscow’s indifference to events in that country may be feigned or real: certainly the West has learnt that the wisest course is to leave Persia strictly to its own devices. Whether Mossadeq, Kashani or Tudeh ultimately triumph, there is little evidence that moderate constructive policies—at home and abroad—will be steadily pursued by that country for some time to come.


Related links:

State Department Must Walk Softly in Persia | Jay Franklin, March 8, 1953

Tension in Teheran | The Indian Express, August 16, 1953

Mossadegh Supporter Elected Speaker | United Press, July 1, 1953

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

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