“Lack of Progress” Threatens Shah

National Security Council Briefing | July 16, 1957

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | December 13, 2017                     

Manouchehr Eghbal Manouchehr Eghbal, a former physician who had held a variety of positions in the government, was named Prime Minister in April 1957, and went on to become one of the longest serving Premiers in Iran as of his departure in August 1960. But as this NSC report indicates, all was not rosy in the royal court.

Along with the predicted “showdown” with Eghbal, the NSC believed the monarchy itself was in danger as a result of the alleged inefficiencies and excesses of the Shah’s rule.

Portions of this document would be recycled the following month in the more elaborate Iranian Political Stability Threatened by Shah’s Determination to Rule Supreme.

National Security Council Documents | IRAN

NSC BRIEFING                          SECRET                          16 July 1957


I. Shah’s abrupt return to Tehran from Europe on 12 July may bring showdown with Premier Eqbal, [Manouchehr Eghbal] who has repeatedly threatened to resign if Shah continues to interfere in government.

    A. Shah ostensibly coming back to step up earthquake relief south of Caspian Sea. [July 2, 1957 quakes that devastated nearly 50,000 miles of Iran]

[B. is excised]

II. Eqbal believes his constructive program for Iran is blocked by Shah’s meddling in day-to-day government operations.

    A. Although he hopes Shah can be persuaded to give him freer hand, it is unlikely Shah will surrender his perogatives willingly, [sic—prerogatives] and Eqbal can probably be persuaded to stay on anyway.

    B. No group on Iranian political scene appears strong enough to force him to “reign instead of rule.”

III. However, continued lack of progress toward reform--largely caused by Shah’s reluctance to let Eqbal fire inefficient and corrupt officials--will strengthen sentiment for abolition of the monarchy.

    A. Bitter criticism of Shah’s rule also now coming from members of ruling class, including Shah’s half-brother Prince Abdor Reza, [Abdolreza Pahlavi] some members of cabinet, Majlis deputies, high-ranking army and police officers, religious leaders and some wealthy land-owners.

[B. is excised]

       2. There is also some indication that followers of former premier Mossadeq may be trying to organize a move against the Shah. Tudeh, however, now weak and disorganized.

       3. Powerful and ambitious individuals not known to be implicated in such plotting might at some point seek to assume leadership of anti-Shah movement

[paragraph excised]

Document was declassified by the CIA on October 1, 2003.

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Related links:

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

Ahmad Ghavam Seeks U.S. Help To Become Premier | State Dept. Letter, April 1, 1952

70 Mossadegh Backers Seized | United Press, October 29, 1957

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