Foreseeing an Iranian Coup
Tudeh Paper Anticipates U.S.-Backed Plot (1953)

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | August 28, 2020                     

This State Dept. cable reported upon what a Tudeh newspaper had written, prior to and after the attempt to overthrow Mossadegh, about the likelihood of a coup against the government.

Impressively, the paper correctly named Gen. Schwarzkopf, John Foster Dulles, Nematollah Nassiri, President Eisenhower, Ayatollah Kashani and the Shah as co-conspirators in the plot.

U.S. State Department Documents on Iran | 1951-1954

No. 262

Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1 [Gordon H. Mattison to State Dept.]

Tehran, August 16, 1953, 1 p.m.

337. Significance [is being] placed here upon [the] fact [that] Shojat, [the] principal Tudeh newspaper, [is the] only one to have [an] account [of the] alleged coup d’état this morning and that [the] same paper had proclaimed [the] imminence [of the] coup since August 13.

Aside [from a] minor hint in Mard Asia, [an] anti-Mosadeq paper, [on] August 16, that [the] government [was] apprehensive about [a] coup, apparently only Communists had [the] idea of [a] purported coup.

Shojat on August 13 called upon [the] government to forestall [the] coup, naming many alleged plotters in [the] armed forces. On August 14 [the] same paper said certain army commanders [were] in league with [the] Shah and arrangements [for the] coup [were] all set. [It] Claimed Kashani [was] also in [on the] plot. [Ayatollah Kashani]

[On] August 16 Shojat said Mosadeq [was] tipped off to [the] plot Friday afternoon and [the] plotters, learning this, later sent [a] white flare into [the] sky to notify conspirators [of the] delay [in] action. “[The] Coup was to come off last night. Following [a] meeting [with] General Schwarzkopf [H. Norman Schwarzkopf] and [the] Shah [on] August 9, necessary preparations [were] made. [On] Monday [the] Shah left for [the] Caspian and Colonel Nasari in civilian clothes held meetings in Tehran. [On] Friday Colonel Nasari ordered [the] Imperial Guards [to] hold [them]selves [in] readiness [for their] assignment. [Col. Nematollah Nassiri]

“Plans called for [the] mountain brigade of Colonel Montaz and [his] units [and the] armored brigade of Colonel Shahrokh to [be] attack[ed] [in] Tehran [on] 1 a.m. Saturday. [Col. Ezatollah Momtaz and Col. Naser Shahrokh] [They] Were to occupy government centers, [the] radio station, arrest [the] Prime Minister, [and his] ministers. Execute some [of them] at once. [The] Plot [was] discovered, tipped off. [A] White flare [was] sent up.

“American imperialists sent Schwarzkopf as [a] spy to court after Dulles and Eisenhower[’s] statements with instructions [that the] present government must be ousted by military action and replaced by [a] government headed by men like Alayar Saleh, General Zahedi, Hakimi, Dr. Amini.” [Allahyar Saleh, Fazlollah Zahedi, Ebrahim Hakimi, Ali Amini]


• Note: Bracketed text added for better readability.
[Annotations by Arash Norouzi]

• Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Iran, 1951–1954 (2017)

• “Gordon H. Mattison, 84, a retired Foreign Service officer, died Jan. 27 in Bethesda, Md. Mr. Mattison entered the Foreign Service in 1937 and was posted to Naples, Baghdad and Basra before being assigned to the Office of the Secretary. He studied Arabic at Princeton University and in Cairo, then served in Beirut and Damascus, then as chief of the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. During the 1950s, Mr. Mattison was deputy chief of mission in Cairo and Tehran, then served in Calcutta and Kathmandu. He was deputy coordinator of an interdepartmental seminar program when he retired in 1968, when he was presented a State Superior Honor Award.” — State Department obituary from 1999

1 “Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO Files, Job 79–01228A, Box 11, Folder 14, Iran 1951–1953. Restricted. Repeated to London and to Beirut for Ambassador Henderson. [Loy Henderson] Received at 7:55 a.m.” — State Department Office of the Historian

Norman Darbyshire’s Explosive Interview on 1953 Coup in Iran
The Darbyshire Tapes: Norman Darbyshire's Explosive Interview on the 1953 Coup in Iran (transcript)


Related links:

After Failed Iran Coup, U.S. Mulls Wait and See Approach (Aug. 16, 1953)

Political Prospects In Iran | CIA Report, July 29, 1953

British Proposal to Organize a Coup d’état in Iran (1952 Memo)

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

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