Monarch In the Middle

Grady: Shah “Quite Unhappy” About Mossadegh Win

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | October 6, 2017                    

Henry Francis Grady, U.S. Ambassador to Iran The United States Ambassador to Iran, Henry F. Grady, cabled the following report on his meeting with a downbeat Shah, upset over the passage of the Oil Nationalization Law and Dr. Mossadegh’s overwhelming election as new Prime Minister by the Parliament. As usual, the British received a copy.

The same day, Grady met with a group of prominent Iranian politicians, who offered their input on the oil controversy, Britain, Russia, Premier Mossadegh and other pressing matters. Grady, for his part, remained optimistic.

U.S. State Department Documents | IRAN

788.00/5–751: Telegram

No. 18

The Ambassador in Iran (Grady)
to the Department of State

Tehran, May 7, 1951—noon.


2692. Had luncheon Saturday with [the] Shah. He feels better but is still concerned about his health. He feels quite unhappy about oil legislation, and selection [of] Mosadeq, but on [the] basis [of] past procedure, he had no alternative but to accept both. He indicated he did not expect Mosadeq to last long. He is pessimistic with regard to a satisfactory solution of [the] oil question. I never find him confused as we have reported several times Shepherd does. [Sir Francis Shepherd, the British Ambassador] He is very clear and sound in his thinking. He said little to me about the British, but Ala tells me he has lost faith in them and fears what they may do. [Hossein Ala] I have told the Shah and other Iranian leaders that the British approach is conciliatory and that if they are met in the same spirit an agreement on [the] oil matter can be reached satisfactory to all concerned. A number of Iranians have expressed to me gratification [of] Morrison’s last speech in Commons. [British Foreign Secretary Herbert Morrison in the House of Commons]

I had [a] meeting Saturday evening with group of Senators, including Ala (Embassy telegram 2488, April 19)1. They assured me Mosadeq would not move precipitously on [the] oil matter. They agreed with me that the committee soon to be appointed should take time to get all the facts and all the technical assistance needed. They felt, especially Taqizadeh, that Mosadeq’s selection might prove a blessing in disguise for he is the only one who can present a program to the Majlis that has any chance of acceptance. [Veteran politician Hassan Taghizadeh]

The group felt that everyone, including the British, should try hard to work with Mosadeq and direct him along sound lines. Of course, I agreed. We all agreed that Mosadeq himself has not the capacity to come to real grips with this problem or probably any other. He is also unreliable as he completely misquoted to [the] Shah my conversation with him but he does seek the best interests of his country as he sees them. All agreed that the oil question is a symbol for the expression of the present intense nationalist drive. Iranians can for the first time defy the powers that have dominated them in the past. The fanaticism is a reflection of the “independence” complex which I have seen in a number of countries. This is not by any means all bad as it also affects their attitude toward Russia. The right kind of patriotism could pull this country out of its despair. Ala told me Mosadeq had offered him the Ministry for Foreign Affairs but when they discussed their views, Ala could not accept Mosadeq’s “neutrality”. Ala insists on a strong pro-West position. Mosadeq believes Iran must “appease” Russia so Ala was not appointed Foreign Minister. I am not pessimistic about the future of Iran. Despite harsh criticism of [the] US at times, the Iranians believe in [the] US. They know we seek here nothing but their welfare and independence. They are genuinely disappointed that our aid has been so slow and is as yet so small, but we can make up for that in the months ahead. Russia is doing nothing for them, so time is on our side, despite insidious and well organized Soviet propaganda here against [the] US.

The whole group agreed that Mosadeq would not be sympathetic to our Export-Import Bank loan—too little and too late. The Shah urged me not to press the loan matter until a more sympathetic government was in. I am more convinced than ever that we should have given Ali Razmara a loan of $100 million to dangle before the Majlis. [slain Premier Ali Razmara] The conditions I recommended would have protected us. What if they did say we promised them $100 million when they are already saying we have promised them $250 million. Even placing the dangers of accusations of unfilled promises against the hazards we ran and are now facing, there can be little doubt as to the sound choice. I am disturbed that the President’s program for grant aid will be announced before I can get Mosadeq to act on the loan. [Pres. Harry S. Truman] I cannot from the standpoint of American prestige press him though I will see him shortly on the matter.

My group discussed what should happen if and when Mosadeq’s government fell. All were emphatic that to put in “a strong man” and have government by decree would be a fatal mistake. It would, in their opinion, cause revolt against the Shah and throw the country into chaos.


• Note: Bracketed text added and abbreviations removed from original for better readability. [Annotations by Arash Norouzi]

• Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Iran, 1951–1954, Volume X (1989)

1 “In telegram 2488 Grady reported that he had been meeting for some time with a group consisting of Senators Taqizadeh, Shafaq, Sadig, and Madsoudi [sic—Abbas Masoudi of Ettela’at newspaper] and Prime Minister Ala to discuss Iranian problems. (888.2553/4–1951)” — U.S. State Department Office of the Historian


Related links:

Ambassador Henry F. Grady Meets New Premier Mohammad Mossadegh: May 2, 1951

British Must Make Grim Choice In Iran | Joseph Alsop, May 23, 1951

What Will Happen In Persia | The Advocate, May 1, 1951

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

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