Easy Prey For Moscow

August 24, 1953 — The Associated Press

The Mossadegh Project | May 6, 2012                    

AP column from August 24, 1953 looks at Mossadegh’s demise and the strength of the Tudeh party in the aftermath of the previous week’s military coup.


Associated Press News Analyst

AP (The Associated Press) The trouble with assessing the situation in Iran today is that it makes very little sense.

One thing seems certain: There are grave troubles ahead for the young Shah and his supporters.

Premier Mossadegh, the doddering, weeping old boss, had all the cards stacked in his favor up to the time of the Shah’s flight abroad Aug. 16. Yet Mossadegh lost. Why?

Perhaps one of Mossadegh’s biggest mistakes was to give the impression of intriguing with the Russians and the Communists. Up until a relatively short time ago, Mossadegh’s record had been clear, on the surface, at least, of intrigue with foreigners, all of whom are hated with passionate impartiality by the Iranians.

Mossadegh toyed with the dangerous idea of using the Communist Tudeh party to support his regime and his attack against the Shah. The Tudeh party was conspicuous by its absence when the showdown came.

But the Tudeh is still there, and still the strongest single organized force with which the Shah will have to deal. It is outlawed—has been ever since one of its members tried to kill the anti-Soviet ruler in 1949. During the Mossadegh regime it blossomed forth openly under the Communist banner, easily ignoring the legal ban against its existence.

By all past experience, the overthrow of Mossadegh should have been the signal for a reign of violence and chaos into which the Tudeh party would insinuate itself with disciplined purpose.

That violence and chaos may be in the offing, and soon. One reason for such a supposition is this: The return of the Shah’s men to power may lead to a lessening of tension between Iran and the Western nations. The new Premier, Gen. Fazollah Zahedi [sic—Fazlollah], already has announced Iran must make amends for offending formerly friendly nations.

Any settlement for example, of the Anglo-Iranian oil crisis that would have the effect of relieving tensions between Iran and the West would hardly be taken lying down by the Soviet Union and its Iranian Communists. If a settlement should seem near, the Communists will kick up a real fuss in an attempt to stop it.

That could very well lead to more chaos and bloodshed in the poverty-stricken country. But there are inherent weaknesses in the Communist party in Iran which keep complete domination of the country out of its grasp. One weakness is that all its principal leadership is outside the country, mostly in Moscow. Inside Iran the party has no independence of action and operates only on the orders relayed from Moscow.

Another weakness is Moscow’s probable fear that a Communist coup in Iran, even though engineered “internally,” might be a spark to set off World War III. The Russians are not ready for that and not likely to give the signal.

The task of the Tudeh party will be to keep the Iranian pot boiling, to give Shah’s government no rest, to make alliances with other dissident elements, and to keep the country in an unsettled condition which will make it easy prey for the day when Moscow is ready to take the gamble. And Moscow will gamble if it thinks the West is sufficiently weak and disunited.

Truman and Mossadegh’s First Messages on Iran Oil Dispute (1951)
President Truman and Premier Mossadegh's First Messages on Iran Oil Dispute (1951)

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Related links:

Weakling ‘Strong Man’ | The Palm Beach Post, August 19, 1953

Lessons From Iran | The Wall Street Journal, August 21, 1953

Days of Glory Appear at End For Mossadegh | August 5, 1954 (UPI)

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

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