Saturday, June 17, 2017

New CIA/State Department Docs on the 1953 Iran Coup (Part 2)

This is part 2 of my series on the new CIA and State Department docs on the 1953 Iran Coup. 

The third section of the new documents "Planning and Implementation of Operation TPAJAX, March–August 1953 (Documents 169-308)" and starts with a doozy; a CIA memo for the president dated March 1, 1953. While it is in fact an old document that was included in the 1989 original Iran FRUS, there are some additional sentences and clauses that are included as demonstrated in this screenshot of the two side by side.

Again as I've indicated in the past, the role of Ayatollah Kashani is dismissed by apologists and clerics alike. These documents make it quite clear that he had an immensely important role in the build up to the coup. 

The next document is also new to the FRUS collection and concerns the "Capabilities of the CIA Clandestine Services in Iran"
This is another very important document. It indicates that the propaganda outlets the CIA controlled were NOT capable of spreading anti-Mossadeq propaganda a mere five months before the coup.

Later parts of the memo include this damning passage: the CIA didn't have the capability of creating riots against Mossadeq.
Again there are still redactions in the new documents, a very frustrating reality for historians trying to better understand the events of and leading up to the coup.

Interestingly enough the Top Secret cable (2266, March 2, 1953) from John Foster Dulles to the Iran embassy is not included in the new FRUS, despite its undeniable relevance and importance. Perhaps they are only including ones with changes?

The next document is from the famous NSC 135. One can see the ellipses on the left document indicating a redaction, and the new version which has additional information. 

There is an editorial note following NSC 135 which discusses Foreign Minister Eden's trip to the United States from March 4-7, 1953. As I've previously noted, the CIA's chronology in Zendebad Shah! made a mistake in characterizing the nature of Eden's discussions, implying that negotiations broke down before the trip, when in fact they were, at the time, ongoing and were not dissolved until after Eden returned to the UK.

Three documents later, my work is confirmed. On March 10th, A memo from Byroade to JF Dulles references the potential breakdown of oil negotiations, and a recommendation (from Henderson) to not buy Iranian oil, to not encourage or discourage American firms from engaging in business, and to withhold some financial assistance from Iran. 

A March 11th CIA memo is helpful in outlining the situation as it was. It covers the various opposition groups, starting with Kashani. 

Even after big demonstrations in February and unrest, despite instability with the oil negotiations, the CIA thought Mossadeq had a lot going for him.

The analysis of what Mossadeq's choices were is very good and did a good job predicting what Mossadeq would do.

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