Slender Reed

August 18, 1953 — Los Angeles Times

The Mossadegh Project | January 8, 2022                    

The 1953 coup in Iran

An editorial after the first coup attempt against Premier Mossadegh in The Los Angeles Times newspaper (California). The coup succeeded the next day.

The Los Angeles Times

Is Iran Next on the Red Timetable?

Observers of the troubled Iranian scene have long anticipated a showdown between the Mossadegh faction and the Shah over command of the army. From first reports this internal issue would seem to have been resolved in favor of the Premier, who remains on the scene after an abortive palace coup failed to dislodge him. By flying to neighboring Bagdad, the 34-year-old Shah and his Queen may have removed the last rallying point of the pro-western, anti-Mossadegh elements in Iran and particularly in the Iranian army.

Mossadegh probably is not a Communist, and in the peculiar eastern sense he may be considered a genuine popular leader. But he has accepted Communist help in his dizzy rise to dictatorial power and the Reds carefully keep their IOUs. [What help did he accept?] The record shows that when the time comes to get rid of non-Communist politicians who have made common cause with them in casting down the established order they generally disappear.

Iran is one of the most ancient of monarchies, but the Pahlevi dynasty is relatively young. [Mohammad Reza Pahlavi] The young Shah’s father, [Reza Shah] founder of the line, was a tough army sergeant who ascended the Peacock Throne by the age-old method of rising to command the armed forces and then ousting the last Shah of the previous dynasty. But the western powers and Russia found him too friendly with Hitler in World War II and replaced him with his son, who favored the notion of a limited monarchy and has hesitated to exercise royal prerogatives in Iran’s recent convulsions. When he finally did so, apparently, Mossadegh was already too strong for him.

The international aspects of the Iranian situation depend on internal developments. U.S. policy toward that oil-rich nation blocking Soviet expansion to the Persian Gulf has been, in the main, a sorry repetition of the “let-the-dust-settle” attitude which lost China. The Shah has been regarded as a slender reed and little has been done to shore him up. On the other hand, Mossadegh proved a stubborn trader and has not responded to the lure of American dollars as anticipated. He, too, may not be long in power. A friendly government in Teheran would be a victory for Moscow second only to the capture of Peiping.

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Related links:

Setback for Dr. Mossadeq | Glasgow Herald, August 20, 1953

Mossadegh’s Sentence for Treason | Los Angeles Times, Dec. 23, 1953

Persian Counter-stroke | The Advertiser, March 3, 1953

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

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