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891.00/1784 : Telegram
The Minister in Iran (Dreyfus) to the Secretary of State
TEHRAN, September 26, 1941—noon.
— [Received September 27—11:25 a. m.] 167. The British Minister is much perturbed about the difficult position in which Iran has been placed by Russian occupation of the north. In telegrams to London and Moscow he has described Iran's present economic situation as very bad, cut off as it is from revenue and food and other necessary products formerly supplied by the rich northern provinces. He told me frankly that he does not see how present unsatisfactory condition can continue much longer. In addition to remarking on the harm being done to Iran, he stated "furthermore I do not see how the British can utilize the railways and transportation facilities efficiently until conditions in Iran are restored to normal”. In support of this statement he mentioned interference in connection with a recent shipment of jute by the British to Russia, when the Soviet soldiers in the north of Iran confiscated the gasoline the trucks were carrying. Factories, he said, are closing for want of raw materials, food is short and many businesses are at a standstill. Although Russian forces entered Iran a month ago, no effort seems to have been made by them to reopen communications or reestablish commerce. The Minister said for example that although there are four telegraph lines to Tabriz and Russian military are using only two no one can explain why communications have not been reestablished on the other two. There appears to be no coordination between Russian civil and military and dealings with either are a complete enigma. The British Consul at Tabriz in a series of reports shown me by the Minister paints a sorry picture of conditions in that area, including opening of jails, requisitioning of houses and crops, political intrigue, looting by rabble and sympathy on the part of Russians to separatist movements. I must point out, however, that Dr. Cochrane, an American missionary doctor who was in Tabriz until a few days ago gives much more moderate report. While admitting there was looting by Armenian and Turkish rabble at the beginning, mainly of premises of Germans and fleeing Iranians, he reports that public security on the whole is good and the troops well disciplined.
He confirms, however, what other observers report-namely widespread intrigue and open sympathy on the part of the Russians to aspirations of Armenians and others in separatist movements. In this regard as reported in my No. 158 46 the Russian Ambassador has recommended to the Iranians that elections be held and that a greater amount of local autonomy be granted.
48 Dated September 19, noon, p. 461.
My own impressions based on investigations which are still continuing are that Russian forces are well disciplined and that public security is being adequately maintained. Iranian sources report numerous cases of looting and violence on the part of Russians at Kazvin but I have been unable to confirm them. From the political and economic angles, however, there is much to cause worry. By their political intrigue and failure to reestablish communications, and commerce, the Russians are not only doing great harm to Iran but are failing to live up to their pledge to respect the territorial integrity and independence of the country. The Iranians are willing to accept the pledged word of Great Britain referred to in the Department's No. 95 47 but they have serious reason to doubt the parallel promise of Russia. How little confidence the British have in the promises or intentions of their ally may be judged from the above views of the British Minister.
The Department may wish to urge Russia at the Moscow Conference to cease interfering in the political life of this unfortunate country and to cooperate in or, at least, to refrain from obstructing a return to normal communications and commerce.
891.00/1787 : Telegram
The Minister in Iran (Dreyfus) to the Secretary of State
TEHRAN, September 28, 1941—noon.
[Received September 29—2:25 p. m.] 171. Reference my No. 167 48 and Department's 96.4 Foreign Minister yesterday expressed to me his great preoccupation at present unsatisfactory political and economic position of this country. Iran, he says has willingly met every demand only to be presented with new ones. Deputies and others are asking when will the Allies stop making demands and do something concrete to help Iran out of its difficulties. Since this conversation British Minister has informed me his Government is presenting to the Iranians a draft of a treaty of alliance, which will make definite guarantees and give substantial assistance. In addition Wavell 50 is here discussing among other things the withdrawal of troops from Tehran. Telegraph service has
47 Not printed.
Supra. ** Dated September 25, 7 p. m., p. 462.
Gen. Sir Archibald P. Wavell, Commander in Chief of the British Armed Forces in India.
been reestablished with almost all points in the north including Tabriz.
While British indicate their desire to assist Iran and live up to their formal assurances Russian propaganda continues. A Russian newspaper printed in Persian called "Thoughts of the People” is disseminating Russian propaganda. In a recent number it refers to high prices in Iran and asks when will the people stop living an impoverished life and begin to live like human beings. It prints a caricature of the former Shah, it criticizes the Foroughi 51 Government and it calls attention to the happy state of the United States [sic], begs [sic] now that they are Sovietized.
While public security is being adequately maintained by occupying forces in the cities it is degenerating in the rural areas. There are widespread and apparently true reports of restlessness and disorder among the tribes particularly the Curds and Lurs who have obtained arms abandoned by Iranian forces. The benefits of the ex-Shah's greatest achievement, that of subduing the tribes, may be lost unless energetic action is taken by the Iranians who will probably in view of their present weak condition require assistance from occupying forces.
The Minister in Iran (Dreyfus) to the Secretary of State
TEHRAN, September 30, 1941–11 a. m.
[Received October 1–8:57 a. m.] 173. The British Minister informs me that Eden has informed Maisky 52 that he considers any undue interference in Iranian affairs or sympathy towards separatist movements by Russian forces in north of Iran would be most harmful. The Ambassador promised to communicate this information to his Government.
891.001 P 15/220 Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Near
Eastern Affairs (Murray) 522
[WASHINGTON,] October 1, 1941. I called on the Iranian Minister last Saturday afternoon to get his reaction to the recent events in Iran leading to the abdication of Reza Shah Pahlavi.
51 Mohammed Ali Foroughi, Iranian Prime Minister.
Addressed to the Secretary of State, the Under Secretary of State (Welles), and the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle).
The Minister stated that, in his opinion, the British had committed a great blunder in forcing the abdication of Reza Shah and that the results of this blunder would soon come home to plague them. He said he referred to the rearming of the native tribes of Iran. It had taken Reza Shah twenty years to disarm effectively these tribes and to start integrating them into the civilized life of the country. Before they were disarmed, the tribes had rendered travel in Iran precarious by reason of the pillaging, plundering and kidnapping expeditions along the main routes of travel. (It may be recalled in this connec
. tion that the Lurs captured three American consular officers and held them for ransom in the mountains some years ago, and only by a miracle and, in fact, inadvertently were they rescued by the Iranian military.)
The name of Reza Shah, continued the Minister, had been a magi one in Iran in preserving law and order and, whatever the temptation to banditry, the tribal population had such a fear of the Shah that they dared not move. The Minister claimed that, in subduing the tribes, the Shah had not pursued a merciless policy of killing the leaders but had brought several of them to Tehran and kept them under surveillance in comfortable quarters.
Expressing the opinion that Iran had been thrown back forty years in her latter day reforms and progress, the Minister said he believed the British may have created a situation which would require a far larger occupying force in the country than they had anticipated. If this were the case, the British might, he said, use this argument for any failure to evacuate the country at the termination of their present hostilities with Germany.
Of interest in the above connection is the following comment made by Mr. Dreyfus in the concluding paragraph of his telegram no. 171, September 28, noon:
[Here follows concluding paragraph of telegram printed on page 464.]
891.00/1784 : Telegram The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom
WASHINGTON, October 3, 1941–11 p. m. 4218. The Legation at Tehran has submitted to the Department telegraphic reports substantiated by information supplied by the British Minister to Iran that the Russians in the occupied zone are engaging in political intrigue, disseminating Soviet propaganda, and are displaying open sympathy toward Armenian and other separatist movements. Russian Government support of this activity has been indicated by a recent suggestion of the Russian Ambassador in Tehran to the Iranian Government that special elections should be held and a greater degree of autonomy granted to certain areas in Iran.
According to the Legation at Tehran Mr. Eden has informed the Soviet Ambassador in London that he considers most harmful any Russian interference in Iranian affairs or sympathy toward separatist movements. Please telegraph to the Department a detailed report on this conversation.
You should inform Mr. Eden at the earliest opportunity that the Department is gratified that he has taken up the matter with the Soviet Ambassador. During your conversation with him you should state that, in view of British and Soviet assurances that the political independence and territorial integrity of Iran will be respected and in view of the President's message of reassurance to the Shah (Department's 3563, September 4, 2 p. m.), this Government views with concern Russian political activities in Iran and is extremely apprehensive of the effect upon Turkey of any display of Russian sympathy toward an Armenian separatist movement in Iran. You should express to Mr. Eden the hope of this Government that he will continue his endeavors to implement the assurances which he and the Soviet Government have given to respect the political independence and territorial integrity of Iran.
Please inquire of Mr. Eden whether it would prove helpful if this Government made representations of a similar character to the Soviet Government.
891.00/1792: Telegram The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary
of State 53
LONDON, October 4, 1941–8 p. m.
[Received October 4—7:55 p. m.] 4724. Personal for the Secretary and Under Secretary. Your 4218, October 3, 11 p. m., just received. I communicated with Mr. Eden at once. I have followed this situation in all its detail and know for, a fact that Mr. Eden has considered Russian interference in Iran affairs or efforts towards separatist movements by them as harmful and unwarranted.
He told me some time ago that he had taken up this situation with the Soviet Ambassador and has pressed the matter since. He also has pointed out to the Russian Ambassador that political activities on the
58 Repeated to the Minister in Iran in Department's telegram No. 104, October 8,1 p. m.