Shah Backers Won Out in Iran by Wee Margin

August 25, 1953 — Walter G. Rundle [UPI]

The Mossadegh Project | December 16, 2013                  

Walter G. Rundle’s reaction to the August 19th military coup in Iran — Tuesday, August 25, 1953. The UPI columnist viewed it as a very positive development.

New Regime in Iran Beats Reds
To Draw by Narrowest of Margins

United Press Staff Correspondent

Now that the dust and the statues have settled back into place in Iran, one thing has become uncomfortably clear:

Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi [sic—Mohammad Reza Pahlavi] and friends beat the Communists to the draw in that Mideastern hot-spot by the narrowest of margins.

Mossadegh, who gave his nation blood and tears without the sweat, had run the situation so far into the ground that something had to give.

The British, who have the biggest direct stake in the situation, admit now that they’d just about written Iran off as lost when the Shah and his chosen successor to Mossadegh, Maj. Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi, appealed to the Army to disobey Mossadegh and his “illegal government”.

The desperation of the situation can be understood when it is re-called that Zahedi was in hiding for fear of his life and the shah was in Iraq en route to Rome for similar urgent reasons of health.

The beginnings of the mop-up of ringleaders of the Tudeh (Communist) party this week have given a hint of the extensive preparations by the other side to cash in on the heritage of woe Mossadegh had accumulated for his people.

The actual strength of the out-lawed but openly active party remains one of Communism’s best kept secrets. But the best available estimates put its membership at between 25,000 and 30,000 with a large following of sympathizers.

The Communists are conceded to have had the best organized apparatus of any Iranian party, with strong discipline (a rarity in Iran) over their members.

Russia was smugly watching Mossadegh’s activities convinced that the country had reached a position where it would fall, like over-ripe fruit, into the Soviet garden whenever the Kremlin shook the tree.

Here’s why:

Mossadegh had run the Iranian treasury, once bulging with oil revenues, as dry as the great salt desert southwest of his capital. The national bank had secretly boosted the note issue from an authorized 7.8 billion rials to more than 12 billions and had, at the same time, spent $39,200,000 of the London account which supposedly backed the snowdrift of paper currency.

The nation’s ambitious seven year plan was on the rocks from lack of funds and thousands promised employment through it were out of work.

Mossadegh, stubbornly, had tried to live up to his promise to keep the workers in the huge Abadan refinery employed and was keeping a backbreaking 40,000 non-sweating oil workers on the payroll at a cost of nearly $2,000,000 a month.

Of such materials are Communist coups traditionally made.

The appeal of the shah and Gen. Zahedi to the army was a longshot gamble. It worked, apparently, because the soldiers, empty-bellied and wearing tattered shirts, had abandoned hope of improving their lot through Mossadegh’s glittering but repeatedly-defaulted promises.

The real test whether the danger of a Communist take-over is past or simply delayed rests on the ability of the new regime to:

Hold the Army’s loyalty by lifting the pay of its soldiers above the present 17 rials (20 cents) per month level.

Get the nation’s economy going fast enough to put Iran’s hordes of unemployed back to work before the Reds recover from last week’s shock and surprise and push the nation over the brink it so narrowly escaped last week.

“If I sit silently, I have sinned”: A guiding principle
The untold story behind Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh's famous quote “If I sit silently, I have sinned”


Related links:

J.M Roberts, Jr. Predicts “Chaos and Bloodshed” from Tudeh | August 24, 1953

IRAN: The People Take Over | TIME magazine, August 31, 1953

Fluid Iranian Situation Might Still Be Dangerous | August 28, 1953

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

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