Shah Furious Over Premier Candidate

April 28, 1951 — The Associated Press

The Mossadegh Project | April 28, 2012                     


Leader of Oil Nationalization Move
Proposed As Successor to Ala

by Robert B. Hewett

AP (The Associated Press) Tehran, Iran, Apr. 28—(AP)— The lower house of parliament today asked Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi to appoint Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, 76, [correction: 69] the man who has led the move to nationalize Iran’s oil resources, as the country’s new premier.

The surprise move came in a heated campaign to take over the British-owned Anglo-Iranian oil company immediately—an action which forced the resignation of Premier Hussein Ala [Hossein Ala] and his cabinet last night.

After endorsing Mossadegh, the Majlis (lower house) began debating the oil nationalization resolution drafted by the parliamentary oil commission Thursday night. It demands immediate government seizure of the vast petroleum riches in the country.

The Majlis then adjourned and was expected to vote on the issue this afternoon.

The Shah was reported furious at the latest Majlis action, which apparently was aimed at trying to force his hand in appointing strongly nationalistic Mossadegh as premier. Western diplomats also were deeply worried because they fear Mossadegh’s oil policies may bring chaos, opening the way to infiltration of influence by neighboring Russia and diverting one of the west's major sources of oil to the Russians.

The Majlis meeting was secret. Majlis President Reza Hekmat was said to have left for the palace to inform the shah of the house’s recommendation. Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi is not legally bound to follow the recommendation.

One source said that of 99 deputies at the secret meeting, 79 voted for Dr. Mossadegh.

The corridors of the Parliament building buzzed with rumors as officials scurried in and out in the midst of the biggest Iranian government crisis in recent years.

There were unconfirmed reports that the shah might dissolve the Majlis in an attempt to install a stable government.

While the Majlis was in session, the shah summoned white-haired Seyed Zia Eddin Tabatabiae, 59, to the palace. [Seyyed Zia Tabatabai]

This gave rise to rumors that the shah was asking Seyed Zia exiled for almost 30 years after he led a coup d’etat in 1920, to become premier and seek to restore order to Iran, rocked by a month of strikes and rioting in the southern oil fields and the violent nationalization drive.

Seyed Zia is regarded by Western diplomats as pro-British and anti-Russian.

Meanwhile, Hussein Ala, who precipitated the government crisis when he and his cabinet resigned last night in a surprise move, remained in seclusion. The 68-year-old Ala, long known for his moderate policies and pro-western leanings, apparently felt unable to cope with the Nationalist demands.

Informed sources said Ala told the cabinet he was resigning because the Special Parliamentary Oil Commission rushed through Thursday night the resolution to take over the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company immediately without consulting the government.

“Ala said he could not take the responsibility for carrying out nationalization under an ill-considered plan,” one informed official said. Ala was appointed March 11 by the Shah to succeed Premier Ali Razmara, who had been assassinated four days earlier for opposing oil nationalization. Ala’s life and those of other government leaders were threatened by the fanatical Moslem Fedayan Islam sect responsible for Razmara’s assassination. [Feda’ian Islam]

The government crisis raised concern among western diplomats who fear it may lead to increased Russian influence in this southern neighbor of the Soviet Union. British Ambassador Sir Francis Shepherd told reporters yesterday that a parliamentary vote for nationalization “might have very serious and far-reaching consequences.” He expressed the concern of the British government, which owns 53 per cent of the Anglo-Iranian Company's stock, that the latest nationalization move might “close the door to further negotiations.”

Britain protested March 14 that Iran could not legally take over Anglo-Iranian because its concessions, negotiated in 1933, run until 1993. The protest said any cancellation of the concessions would be taken to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

The protest was rejected by Premier Hussein Ala, who said Britain had “not taken notice of the legitimate rights of Iran” in oil dealings since she got rights in 1901 to operate Iran’s 300,000 square miles of oil lands.

Although Seyed Zia has been a member of the Majlis recently he has not been politically active because of opposition to the Shah. [Not exactly] At the age of 27, he led a coup which overthrew the government in 1920. Seyed Zia’s government lasted only a few months and he was exiled by Reza Pahlevi, then an army general. [Reza Shah Pahlavi] Reza Pahlevi later threw out the Shah and took over the throne.

From 1920 to 1943, Seyed Zia lived in Europe and Palestine. In the 1930’s he moved to Palestine where he established a model farm near Gaza.

Alternate headlines:

Iran Oil Dispute Poses New Crisis
Iran Gripped by New Oil Crisis
Iranian Cabinet Falls Over Oil Crisis
Leader of Oil Grab Touted For Premier
Mossadegh Urged As New Premier
Iran Seeks Premier For Cabinet — Air Of Tension Marks Meeting Of Leaders

Alternate intro:

The Shah of Iran sought a new premier today to lead his country out of the oil nationalization crisis which brought the sudden downfall of Premier Hussein Ala’s government.

In an air of tension, the Majlis (lower house) met in secret session and reportedly voted to recommend the appointment of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, anti-British leader of the nationalization drive as the new premier.

The Majlis deputies had been summoned to a special session to vote on immediate government seizure of the Anglo-Iranian Oil company, the British-owned monopoly on Iran’s oil.


Related links:

Shah of Iran “Quite Unhappy” About Mossadegh Win, Oil Nationalization Law

Mossadegh Takes Over As Premier Of Iran | Associated Press, April 30, 1951

Persia’s Oil Grab Will Hurt Us — Her, Too | Aubrey Thomas, May 3, 1951

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

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