Foreign News: Mossadegh Loses Friends

TIME Magazine — January 19, 1953

The Mossadegh Project | November 24, 2009                   

The defection of Hossein Makki, Mozaffar Baghai and Ayatollah Kashani from Mossadegh’s circle was reviewed in this error-filled TIME article.

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TIME magazine, January 19, 1953

One by one, Premier Mohammed Mossadegh was shedding or losing his powerful supporters. The first to go was evil old Mullah Kashani, powerful Speaker of the Majlis (Parliament) and boss of a gang of terrorists, who once pledged Mossadegh “my entire efforts.” Fed up with Kashani’s flirtation with the Communists, Mossadegh broke with him. [Ayatollah Kashani was upset with Mossadegh for not conceding to his personal demands for power. There was no Communist aspect to the split.] Next, Mozafar Baghai, leader of the pro-Mossadegh Toilers Party, got too ambitious, and joined Kashani in the discard.

Then Mossadegh had only one powerful friend left. That was Hussein Makki, the No. 2 man in the regime, Mossadegh’s personal representative at Abadan, his top vote-getter in Teheran. Makki liked to say that anyone who opposed his boss ought to be killed. Makki was also ambitious. The most conspicuous object in his living room is a six-foot, gilt-framed portrait of his craggily handsome head.

Makki returned recently from Washington, announced that he had “documents” and “proof” of all kinds of dire interference by Acheson and Truman. [Sec. of State Dean Acheson and Pres. Harry Truman] When able U.S. Ambassador Loy Henderson successfully rebutted the charges, Mossadegh forced his Deputy Prime Minister to go before a packed Majlis and admit that he had no proof or documents of any sort. Makki never forgot or forgave this.

Last week, his chance came. Mossadegh asked the Majlis to extend for a full year his dictatorial powers, which are due to expire Feb. 9. Makki scampered to the rostrum, announced: “I am resigning my seat in the Majlis,” and stomped out.

As Mossadegh’s friends and leadership fell away, his best chance of surviving lay in signing an oil agreement. U.S. negotiators reported him the most conciliatory he has ever been, though, remembering many past disappointments, they were guarded in their optimism. If he agrees to accept arbitration on Anglo-Iranian claims for breach of contract (which the British adamantly insist upon), Anglo-Iranian is prepared to buy 10 million tons of Iranian oil a year, and the U.S. to give Mossadegh large sums of economic aid. In Teheran, Ambassador Henderson wore a path to Mossadegh’s bedside. [Loy Henderson]

—Far off in dusty Aden, a British protectorate, the British won the first legal round in their battle to blockade Iran’s oil. A supreme court judge held that Iran’s “nationalization” of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. was actually “confiscation,” ordered the $40,000 oil cargo aboard the blockade-running Rose Mary (TIME, June 30) turned over to Anglo-Iranian.


Related links:

Man Of The Year Choice Reflects Leadership Need | Fresno Bee, Jan. 6, 1952

Mr. Mossadegh Abed | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 17, 1951

IRAN: Emergency Grant | TIME, September 14, 1953

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

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