Mob Scene
March 6, 1953 — The Daily Gleaner

The Mossadegh Project | February 5, 2017                        

Following the No’he Esfand showdown between Mossadegh and the Shah, a newspaper in Kingston, Jamaica produced this long-winded editorial on the various factions competing for power in Iran.

The Daily Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica)

Persian Riots

For almost two years Persian political life has been dominated by tensions and turbulence — the direct domestic repercussion of the decision of that country to take unilateral action to nationalise its vast oil industry and reserves. So long as the oil dispute with Great Britain remains unresolved, the Persian economy will be precarious and unsound, stalling schemes for desirable social and economic reforms, and bitterness, personal jealousies and the fear of of violence and the mob will perpetuate a state of chaotic political instability.

In the complex factiousness of the Persian political scene it is possible to distinguish three broad political groupings. The Moderates would pursue a realistic policy of driving the hardest possible bargain with the British Government and so settle the oil dispute. It seems probable that the Shah himself favours such a policy, which has certainly been warmly supported by influential members of his household, particularly since the United States sought Persian acceptance of generously modified British proposals early this year. Unfortunately this group lacks articulate popular support and the inflamed nationalistic passions of the Teheran mobs preclude its working openly to secure the acceptance of its policies.

The second group, which has helped to condition the attitude of the Persian populace and enjoys its fanatical support, embraces those Nationalists who undertook the seizure of the Persian oil industry and who have steadfastly rejected any settlement of that issue save on their own terms. Although Premier Mossadeq is leader of this group, his leadership is often challenged by other members, the most forceful of whom is the powerful religious fanatic Ayatullah Kashani. [Ayatollah Seyed Abolghassem Kashani]

The third element in the melting pot of Persian politics is the outlawed, but still active and now open, Communist Tudeh Party. Without sufficient strength to influence the course of events in Persia through its own policies and actions, it waits patiently until the strife of other factions and resultant disorders provide the chance of aggravating the chaos and giving demonstrations and violence a strong anti-British or anti-American trend.

The Shah’s announcement, last weekend, of his intentions to leave Persia (at least temporarily) sparked the latest conflict of these volatile elements in the country’s political life. His personal liberalism and the welfare activities of the Persian Royal Family have given it a fair measure of popularity among the Persian people. This fact, coupled with almost hysterical misgivings as to their fate should the ruler of the country be absent in a time of such grave domestic crisis, led mobs to gather with apparent spontaneity to demand that the Shah remain in the midst of his loyal and bewildered people, and rumours of strained relations between the Shah and Mossadeq (probably inspired by Kashani for his own ends) gave the demonstrations an anti-Mossadeq turn.

Forced to temporary refuge, Mossadeq waited until the tide of popular favour began to flow again in his direction. He has increased his close personal control over the forces of law and order (including the army) and an uneasy lull now rests over the stormy political scene. The Shah remains in Persia, virtually the prisoner of his excitable people; Mossadeq still retains his uneasy control of the nation’s destiny. Perhaps most significant of all is the emerging influence of Tudeh (which made itself felt towards the end of the rioting) reflected in the changing slogans of the mob: ‘Long live the Shah’ on Saturday: ‘Long live Mossadeq’ on Sunday, ‘Down with the United States’ on Monday.

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


Related links:

Persia | The Daily Gleaner, August 5, 1953

‘Shout With the Biggest’ | The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 5, 1953

Rule By Riot | The Knickerbocker News, March 2, 1953

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

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