Iran’s Monarchy In Mortal Peril

National Security Council Briefing | Aug. 6, 1957

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | December 8, 2017                     

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

“Should the Iranian people continue to feel a lack of confidence in the government, the Crown, as a national symbol and institution, could be seriously damaged.”

Growing dissatisfaction with the Shah of Iran posed a serious threat to the survival of the monarchy, according to this partially excised NSC briefing from 1957.

Some of the paper (highlighted for reference) either repeated nearly verbatim or rephrased portions from a July 16th briefing titled "SHOWDOWN BETWEEN SHAH AND IRANIAN PRIME MINISTER EQBAL MAY BE NEAR".

National Security Council (NSC) documents on Iran

NSC BRIEFING                        6 August 1957



I. The Shah, apparently convinced that he has consolidated in his own hands all political power in Iran, is determined to rule supreme.

    A. Despite his close personal attention to the affairs of state, however, the Shah appears to be completely unaware of the growing dissatisfaction and political frustrations which could threaten the very existence of his regime.

[excised paragraph]

    B. The continued lack of progress toward reform--largely caused by the Shah’s reluctance to let Prime Minister Eqbal [Manouchehr Eghbal] fire inefficient and corrupt officials--will strengthen sentiment for the abolition of the monarchy.

        1. Bitter criticism of the Shah’s rule has come from members of the Iranian ruling class, including the Shah’s half-brother Prince Abdor Reza, [Abdolreza Pahlavi] members of the cabinet, Majlis deputies, high-ranking army and police officers, religious leaders, and politically powerful landowners.

    C. While this discontent and criticism has been growing among Iranians, especially among those of the Middle Class, there is apparently no group or combination of groups strong enough to challenge the Shah’s power and force him to “reign not rule.”

        1. There is no indication that a viable opposition movement will develop in the immediate future.

        2. The Shah is able to play one potential leader against the others. They do not trust each other enough to form an effective coalition.

[excised paragraph]

II. Eqbal has repeatedly threatened to resign in recent months if the Shah continues to interfere in governmental activities, but he has made no such threats since the Shah’s return from Europe in mid-July even though the Shah has become more embroiled than ever in the daily affairs of government.

    A. [...excised...] despite his failure to resign, Eqbal is probably finished as prime minister.

        1. He has reportedly lost the confidence of the Shah and all of his own friends.

        2. The Shah gives no indication that he intends to throw his support behind the Eqbal government nor that he will tolerate it beyond the time necessary to make other arrangements.

          a. The Shah will probably keep Eqbal in office, however, until he (the Shah) is able to groom another candidate whom he believes he can dominate completely.

        3. Should the Iranian people continue to feel a lack of confidence in the government, the Crown, as a national symbol and institution, could be seriously damaged.

• Document declassified by the CIA on October 1, 2003

[Annotations by Arash Norouzi]


Related links:

Stability of Shah's Regime Questioned | National Security Council Briefing, April 5, 1960

Shah “Distrusts” Premier Zahedi | NSC Briefing, Jan. 13, 1955

70 Mossadegh Backers Seized | United Press, Oct. 29, 1957 (UPI)

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

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