Mob Mentality
March 4, 1953 — U.S. Editorial

The Mossadegh Project | November 11, 2020                                                

A newspaper editorial following the No’he Esfand epsisode in Iran.

Danger in Iran

The complete overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh’s Iranian government would not mean an immediate solution to the problems which beset Iran. The angry mobs which demonstrate from time to time with rioting and bloodshed, the intense feeling of nationalism and antipathy to foreigners are symptoms rather than causes.

Premier Mossadegh, by a series of blunders, has made conditions worse within his country. The substantial oil revenues which once poured into the Iranian treasury from the operation of the oil concessions of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company have stopped. There seems little hope that any quick compromise can be worked out between the British and those who demanded nationalization of the oil.

Mossadegh had an excellent opportunity to write his name in the record books as the savior of his country. Through a series of freak circumstances brought about by the division of the world into two camps he was in a position to demand great concessions from the British oil concerns. But his obstinancy, his refusal to compromise, killed, or at least stunned, the goose that could have laid golden eggs for him. [Gladwyn Jebb agrees]

Whether or not he can ride out the crisis and recoup his prestige, he will be in a difficult position. Iran, like so many other have-not countries, is at the point where the people are demanding social reforms. These reforms cannot come without money and money cannot come without intelligence applied to the oil business.

Mossadegh underestimates the affection which his people hold for the hereditary ruler, the the shah. This week’s demonstrations of mob violence were evidence that he had gone too far in his attempt to whittle down the shah’s power. He who had so often used mobs as a political tool saw a mob rise against himself.

If he learns something from this exhibition of the people’s will Iran may yet emerge as an entity. If not, the danger of becoming a Russian satellite menaces it strongly.

Newspapers that published this editorial included:

The Greenville Record Argus (Greenville, Pennsylvania) — March 4, 1953

The Logansport Pharos-Tribune (Bridgewater, New Jersey) — March 5, 1953 (lead editorial)
They also added the subheading “The Pajama Dance” around the third paragraph, and the following text before the fifth: “The Shah agreed to leave the country temporarily to give Mossadegh a free hand. His departure Saturday was stopped by Ayatollah Sayed Abolghassem Kashani, the Premier’s foremost opponent, who for the first time gave the Shah his support.”

The Oneonta Star (Oneonta, New York) — March 5, 1953 (lead editorial)
The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) — March 6, 1953

Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954
Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 


Related links:

Persian Riots | The Daily Gleaner (Jamaica), March 6, 1953

Middle Eastern Dynamite | Alsop Brothers, March 5, 1953

Bad Poker In Iran | August 25, 1951 editorial

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

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