Suspicious Minds
August 18, 1953 — The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Mossadegh Project | May 25, 2016    

After Mossadegh foiled the royalist’s first coup attempt on August 16th, The Philadelphia Inquirer suspected Soviet machinations at work in their Tuesday morning lead editorial.

Interestingly, in a piece published the same day, another journalist came to a very similar conclusion. The conspiracy-minded might suspect that wasn’t a coincidence, either.

The Philadelphia Inquirer — Friday morning, August 6, 1954

Shah’s Flight Poses New Perils in Iran

The hookup between Tudeh Communists and Premier Mossadegh in Iran was made manifest in the bedridden Premier’s recent plebiscite. It gives grim coloration to the sudden flight of the Shah and his Queen to Baghdad.

The coup d’etat that failed—if it was a coup at all—the Shah’s departure and numerous peculiar circumstances about the events at Tehran Sunday intensify fears and increase possibilities that Red Russia is in a fair way to gather up another satellite in that oil-rich land.

At least the stock of Communists, and that includes the top ones at Moscow, have risen a good many points. The Western Powers, as a consequence, are faced, more definitely than at any time before, with a situation of the gravest character.

The oil of Iran is an asset of immense importance. The seething contentions with the ultra-nationalistic Mossadegh over British oil properties seized by Iran have not been conducted with outstanding wisdom by Britain and supposed American efforts to further a solution have apparently gotten nowhere.

That certainly seems the case in view of the obvious shift of the Mossadegh regime toward “better relations” with Russia which is all too likely to develop rapidly into a critical situation.

Sunday’s “coup d’etat”—laid to the Shah’s adherents—proceeded along very suspicious lines. Last February even a rumor that the Shah might flee brought thousands of angry loyal Iranians storming to Mossadegh’s door in violent protest. [dozens, not thousands] To build up Mossadegh’s dictatorial powers, at the expense of those constitutionally belonging to the Shah, it was necessary to break down that loyalty to Riza Pahlevi. [Mohammad Reza Pahlavi]

The job seems to have gone well while Mossadegh has been abolishing not only his legislative opponents, but the Iranian Parliament—the Majlis—in totality.

In this he has had the sweeping support of the Red Tudeh Party, whose newspapers for several weeks have been predicting the “coup d’etat” that erupted Sunday. No comic opera could present anything less convincing than the arrests, counter-arrests, marches and counter-marches in Tehran two days ago. The Shah’s “Palace Guard,” all 700 men strong, allegedly arrested some of Mossadegh’s followers. They trotted up to Mossadegh’s house. There is no indication the ailing Premier even got out of his sickbed. His own guards solemnly arrested the colonel commanding the Palace Guard. [Col. Nematollah Nassiri]

Not a shot was fired. Mossadegh’s foreign minister [Hossein Fatemi] and other top-level officials were rescued; anti-Mossadegh figures were clapped into jail. The major general reputedly designated by Shah Pahlevi to take over Mossadegh’s job went into hiding, issuing manifestoes and the Shah himself got away quite easily and safely in his private plane.

With that there appeared Tudeh “mobs” shouting for Mossadegh in Tehran’s streets. It was a remarkably “spontaneous” demonstration—or was it?

Something appears to have been set up to be knocked down, and thoroughly arranged beforehand. Perhaps the Shah, finding himself steadily isolated by Mossadegh and recognizing the implications of the Premier’s Red alliances, wanted to get out.

But the meaning, for the West, of the pro-Western monarch’s departure and the intensification of anti-British and anti-American sentiment cannot be missed. The Red Tudeh Party’s machinations are not internal. Moscow has played some winning cards— again—through willing instruments.

The Western Powers are confronted with a vital weakening in the line of defense against Communism. The explosively dangerous condition in Iran demands swift, firm and wise action to retrieve what has been lost and prevent even greater perils. Iranian oil is a prize for which Russia would pay a high price.

Related links:

Flight of the ShahThe New York Herald Tribune, August 18, 1953

One Man Rule — U.S. editorial, August 18, 1953

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

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

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