VIII. “THE SHAH IS VICTORIOUS” , OVERTHROW OF PREMIER MOSSADEQ OF IRAN (CIA Secret Report)

November 1952-August 1953
VIII.  "THE SHAH IS VICTORIOUS"

 

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VIII.  "THE SHAH IS VICTORIOUS"


     While on the 18th only [Dr. Baghai's paper Shahed] had

published the imperial firman naming Zahedi as Prime Minis-

ter, on 19 August, as soon as the city was awake, early

risers could see photostats or type-set copies of the

firman in the papers Setareh Islam, Asia Javanan, Aram,

Mard-i-Asia, Mellat-i-Ma, and the Journal de Tehran.  The

first four of these papers, and Shahed and Dad in addition,

ran an alleged interview with Zahedi which stressed that his

government was the only legal one in existence--an interview

that had been fabricated by [Djalili].  Somewhat later in the

morning the first of many thousand of broadsheets which carried

a photostatic copy of the firman and the text of the Zahedi

statement appeared in the streets.  Although each of these

newspapers had a normal circulation of restricted size, the

news they carried was undoubtedly flashed through the city by

word of mouth, for before 0900 hours pro-Shah groups were

assembling in the bazaar area.  Members of these groups had

not only made their personal choice between Mossadeq and the

Shah, but they were stirred up by the Tudeh activity of the

preceding day and were ready to move.  They needed only

leadership.

     Even before the day had dawned [Keyvani and Djalili]

having been informed that a pro-Shah statement by the


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ranking religous leader, Ayatollah Borujerdi, might be

forthcoming during the day, had made definite preparations

to utilize any such statement.  [Djalili] and two of their

most enegetic sub-agents, [Mansur Afshar and Majidi] were

down at the bazaar section with a jeep and trucks ready

to set out for Qazvin.  Their plan was to print broadsheets

at this town some 85 miles west of Tehran should it appear

that the Mossadeq government had increased its attempted

strangelhold on the urban press.  As soon as they notice

that the pro-Shah groups were gathering, [Djalili, Majidi,]

[and Rezali, another sub-agent] rushed to supply the needed

leadership.  [Djalili] accompanied one group in its progress

toward the Majlis, and on the way incited them to set fire

to the offices of Bakhtar-i-Emruz, the semi-official paper

owned by Minister of Foreign Affairs Fatemi, which on the

17th and 18th had printed most bitter and scurrilous attacks

on the person of the Shah.  About the same time [Afshar] led

other elements toward the offices of the Tudeh papers

Shahbaz, Besuye Ayandeh, and Javanan-i-Democrat, all of

which were thoroughly sacked.

     The news that something quite startling was happening

spread at great speed throughout the city.  Just when it

reached Mossadeq, who was meeting with members of his

cabinet, is not known.  By 0900 hours the station did have


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this news, and by 1000 hours word had come in that both

the Bakhtar-i-Emruz office and the headquarters of the

Iran Party had been ransacked.  Also about 1000 hours

contact was established with the Rashidian brothers who

seemed full of glee.  Their instructions, as well as orders

directed to [Keyvani and Djalili] were now to attempt to

swing security forces to the side of the demonstrators

and to encourage action for the capture of Radio Tehran.  To

what extent the resulting activity stemmed from specific

efforts of all our agents will never be known, although

many more details of the excitement of the day may slowly

come to light.

     Fairly early in the morning Colonel [Demavand] one of

those involved in the staff planning, appeared in the square

before the Majlis with a tank which he had secured from the

Second Battalion of the Second Armored Brigade, [a battalion]

[originally committed to the operation] Lt. Col.[Khosro-]

[Panah] and Captain [Ali Zand] were on hand and were joined

by two trucks from the same battalion, while members of

the disbanded Imperial Guard seized trucks and drove

through the streets.  By 1015 hours there were pro-Shah

truckloads of military personnel at all the main squares.

     While small groups had penetrated to the north of

the city by 0930 hours, the really large groups, armed


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with sticks and stones, came from south Tehran and merged

as they reached Sepah Square in their progress north toward

the center of the city.  There the troops held in readiness

fired hundred of shots over the heads of the crowd, but

apparently were not willing to fire at these partisans of

the Shah.  As a result the crowds were able to fan out

toward key points.  Just up Lalezar, a main shopping street,

the Saadi theater, long sponsored by the Tudeh Party, ws

burned.  The surging crowds of men, women, and children

were shouting, "Shah piruz ast," (The Shah is victorious).

Determined as thye seemed, a gay holiday atmosphere pre-

vailed, and it was if exterior pressures had been 

released so that the true sentiments of the people showed

through.  The crowds were not, as in earlier weeks, made

up of hoodlums, but included people of all classes--many

well dressed--led or encouraged by other civilians.  Trucks

and busloads of cheering civilians streamed by and when,

about noon, five tanks and 20 truckloads of soldiers joined

it, the movement took on a somewhat different aspect.  As

usual, word spread like lightning and in other parts of the

city pictures of the Shah were eagerly display.  Cars went

by with headlights burning as a tangible indication of

loyalty to the ruler.

     At about 1030 hours, General Riahi informed Mossadeq


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that he no longer controlled the army and asked for relief,

but Mossadeq visited his office and told him to hold firm.

Colonel Momtaz was able to assemble only one battalion

and disposed that force around Mossadeq's house.

     About noon separate elements composing the crowds

began to receive direct leadership from the military and

police.  Those army officers previously alerted to take

part in the military operations provided by TPAJAX were

now taking separate but proper individual action.  By 1300

hours the central headquarters of the telegraph office on

Sepah Square had fallen into royalist hands.  The AP man

filed a cable there shortly after 1300 hours giving a brief

report on the fighting.  Then fighting moved a few hundred

yars away to the police headquarters and to the Ministry

of Foreign Affairs building just across the wide avenue

from it.  Defenders of the police station held out until

nearly 1600 hours.

     Also about noon, Roosevelt went to the houses where

Generals Zahedi and [Guilanshah] were in hiding.  They were

both fully informed of the events of the morning and told

to wait for instructions.  An hour later Carroll and

Persian-speaking Major William R. Keyser (Assistant US

Military Attache) reported on the military situation.  By

early afternoon more of the important objectives in the


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center of the city, such as the press and propaganda

offices, had been taken over by the royalists.  With

important facilities under control, it was possible

to begin dispatch of streams of telegrams to the provinces

urging them to rise in support of the Shah.  Even during

the greatest heat of the day there was no slacekening of

activity.  Station agent [Djalili] was still on the streets

and, finding a crowd on Firdausi Avenue, urge them to go

to military police headquarters and demand the release of

Colonel [Nasiri] and General [Batmanlegich].  This they did.

The soldiers on guard put no resistance.  Meanwhile

agent General [Nakhi (Qods Nakhai)] was touring the city in

his car attempting to round up members of the Imperial

Guard, soldiers who later took part in the attack on

Mossadeq's house.  Early in the afternoon the crowds did

collect around approaches to Mossadeq's residence.

By this time he had probably already left.

     Radio Tehran was a most important target, for its

capture not only sealed the success at the capital, but

was effective in bringing the provincial cities quickly

into line with the new government.  During the heat of

activiy, it broadcast dull discussions of cotton prices,

and finally music only.  Already at 1030 hours there had

been an inerruption of its schedule, but it was not until


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early afternoon that people began streaming up the borad

avenue toward their goal, some three miles to the north.

Buses and trucks bore full loads of civilians, army offi-

cers and policemen.  Sheer weight of numbers seemed to

have overwhelmed the defenders of the radio station, and

after a brief struggle in which three deaths were reported,

at 1412 hours the station was in royalist hands.  At 1420

hours it broadcast the first word of the success of the

royalist effort, including a reading of the firman.  A

stream of eager speakers came to the microphone.  Some

represented elements upon whom reliance had been placed

in TPAJAX planning, while others were quite unknown to the

station.  Among the former elements were opposition papers

[Bakhtiar and Zelzeleh,] one of [Ayatollah Kashani's sons,] and

[likeh Etozadi.]  Among spontaneous supporters of the

Shah to come to the microphone were Colonel Ali Pahlevan

and Major Husand Mirzadian; their presence was the proof--

no longer required--of the truth of the TPAJAX assumption

that the army would rally to the Shah under just such

circumstnces.  For some period of time, Radio Tehran was

alternately on and off the air.  It may have been finally

put into good operating condition by those engineers who,

as one speaker said, had come along for just such a purpose.

Here, as in so many other phases, chance served the cause

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very well, for, hd the original defenders of the radio

station managed to damage its facilities, the firm con-

trol of the capital might have been delayed.

     At the Embassy, station personnel were following the

broadcasts of Radio Tehran, and were elated when it sudden-

ly fell into royalist hands.  Once again Roosevelt set off

toward the hiding place of his valuable charges, meeting

them a little before 1600 hours.  Told it was time for them

to play an active role, both promptly dressed for the

occasion.  It was agreed that General Zahedi should meet

General [Guilanshah] at 1630 hours on a certain street corner

with a tank, and should proceed wih this vehicle to Radio

Tehran where Zahedi would speak to the nation.  General

[Guilanshah] was taken from the house by Major [Keyser] in a 

jeep; and then along the way, he spied two Air Force

officers, he asked to be let out, saying he would take

care of everything.  Right on the street these officers

greeted him warmly and when he said he would like a tank,

they soon rounded one up.  Asked if he knew where Zahedi

was, he said he did and that he had an appointment to

meet him at 1630 hours.  His comrades pressured him to

make an immediate rendezvous with Zahedi, so he directed the

tank toward the compound in which the house sheltering

Zahedi was situated.  Zahedi emerged and the tank set off


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again.  At 1725 hours Zahedi spoke over Radio Tehran, and

this speech was repeated a little after 2100 hours that

evening.

     Howevere, Zahedi had been preceded on the air by [sta-]

[tion agent Farzanegan.]  In the dash back from [Karmenshah]

[Farzanegan's] car had broken down completely at about the 

halfway mark, but he was able to get an uncomfortable ride

the rest of the way in an oil tank truck.  He arrived in

Tehran by morning and contacted the station.  At the latter's

urgent instructions, [Farzanegan] sent a telegram to Colonel

[Bakhtiar] which message contained a code phrase* signalling

[Bakhtiar] to lead his division on forced march to Tehran.

An interesting sidelight concerning [Bakhtiar's] march to

Tehran** occurred en route to Hamadan.  The division entered

Hamadan just as the local Tudeh Party was holding a large

pro-Mossadeq demonstration.  [Bakhtiar] quelled the demon-

stration in short order.  The astonishment of the Tudeh

on seeing the [Kermanshah] division enter Hamadan was ex-

ceeded only by that of the town mayor.

     Within Tehran proper the last nests of resistance were

being subdued.  The Chief of Staff headquarters gave in at

_____________________

*    "Am coming today to see my sick sister."
**   The division actually arrived after Tehran was
     already in Royalist hands.


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the end of the afternoon, and befofe 1900 hours Mossadeq's

house was taken and soon turned into a shambles.  Its

belongings were dragged out into the street and sold to

passersby.  Reactions were also being reported from the

provinces.  At 1450 hours the regional station at Sanandaj

in Kurdestan suddenly went off the air.  At 1555 hours

Radio Tabriz reported the capture of the station itself

by forces loyal to the Shah, and stated that ll of Azer-

baijan was in the hands of the army.  As it continued

broadcasting, it became apparent that one of the speakers,

[Mohammad Deyhim, head of the Fedakaran-i-Azerbaijan] and

an effective sub-agent of station assets had played an

important role in events at Tabriz.  By 1800 hours the

station at Isfahan was on the air with strong statements

in favor of the Shah and Zahedi by such elements as local

editors, a member of Baghai's Toiler's Party, religious

leaders, and staff officers--all groups which we had hoped

would react in this fashion.  Not until 2000 hours did the

radio station at Kerman proclaim loyalty to the new govern-

ment.  Meshed Radio was not heard from at all, but the

religious-minded town turned Loyalist almost immediately

after the news of the change had been sent out over Radio

Tehran.  Known Tudehites were pursued and shops of Tudeh

sympathizers looted.


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     Colonel [Farzanegan] following Zahedi's instruction,

and Carroll now closed up the operation.  While [Batmangelich]

had [been named Chief of Staff, Farzanegan]--at that office--

kept in touch by phone and placed known supporters of

TPAJAX in command of all units of the Tehran garrison,

seized key military targets, and executed the arrest lists.

     As the afternoon drew to its close, Radio Tehran seemed

to get down to a less haphazard schedule.  From 1800 hours

on, it made short announcements of government appointees.

At 1845 hours the Associated Press representative and the

New York Times man made fairly brief statements on the

events of the day, intended for their home offices.  Brief

government communiques dealt with curfew hours, contained

warnings against demonstrations, etc.  A general news sum-

mary at 2100 hours was followed by a statement from Zahedi,

installed in the office of the Chief of Police, and before

2200 hours the station had signed off for the night.  The

hectic day was over and curfew now in effect.  Lives had

been lost, but not nearly as many as stated in the white

heat of the actual events.  The security forces were

firmly in control and well prepared to destroy any counter-

effort.

     How had other interested parties weathered the exciting

day?  One such must have felt real anguish.  This was the


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USSR and its people in Iran.  Radio Moscow lagged far

behind the rest of the world and did not put out a sum-

mary of the day's events at Tehran until 2300 hours GMT.

Its Persian program that reach Iran early in the after-

noon was built around the text of the earlier Pravda

article entitled "The Failure of the American Adventure

in Iran," and this program was repeated early in the

evening.  The same Pravda article was broadcast through-

out the late afternoon and early evening from Moscow in

English, Arabic, Bulgarian, Polish, Czech and Slovak, German,

Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, and Turkish, although by that

time nearly everyone of its listeners must have known that

this materila was no longer applicable.

     The other parties to the original plan felt elated,

and possibly self-satisfied.  While the reactions of

the Shah at Rome are rather beyond the scope of this account,

one or two of his remarks are worth citin as they bear

upon some of the original assumptions of the TPAJAX plan.

He said, "It was my people who have shown me that they were

faithful to the monarchy and that two and a half years of

false propaganda were not enough," and again, "My country

didn't want the Communists and therefore have been faithful

to me."

     At Nicosia the earliest FBIS intercepts had not been


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translated and distributed until nearly mid-afternoon local

time.  As word passed from Leavitt to Darbyshire, he latter

became so excited that he drove his friend right to his
]
office outside of the town, something he and his associates

had always avoided doing in earlier weeks.

     Headquarters had its first word of what the day was

to bring just before 0900 hours when someone burst in from

the hall pouring out what at first seemed to be a bad joke--

in view of the depression that still hung on from the day

before--the news that Mossadeq was on the way out.  Through-

out the morning, the afternoon, and until late that night

people hurried down the corridors with fresh slips of ticker

tape.  During the entire day only two TPAJAX cables were

received from the station.  However, it was a day that should

never have ended for it carried with it such a sense of ex-

citement, of satisfaction, and of jubilation that it is

doubtful whether any other can come up to it.  Our trump card

had prevailed and the Shah was victorious.


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Section IX had no redactions.

Section X had one redaction: the names of Djalili and Keyvani

Appendices A, B, C and E had no redactions.