2 July 2000

Compare this account with the secret CIA report of the coup: http://cryptome.org/cia-iran-all.htm

And allegations of harm in naming coup participants: http://cryptome.org/cia-iran.htm

Date: Mon, 03 Jul 2000 04:46:31 +0000
Subject: Iran 53
From: Robin@Lobster.karoo.co.uk
To: jya@pipeline.com

Hull  UK

Dear Mr Young,

Re Iran coup and NYT.  In 1998 I published the attached, an insider's view of the coup, in Lobster 35.  Thought it might be of some interest vis-a-vis the absurd claims that the publication of the names would do damage.


Robin Ramsay (Editor)


The 1953 Coup in Iran: an Iranian insider's view

Extracts from the memoirs of the late General Fardust on the Iranian Pahlavi dynasty, published in 1978.

Translated from the Farsi and introduced by Armen Victorian.

Hossein Fardust was perhaps the closest person to the late Shah of Iran, Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. They went to school together and Fardust became the Shah's closest friend -- perhaps his only trusted friend.  As the Shah himself wrote in his book A Mission for My Homeland:  

During that time [school days] my closest friend was a boy called Hossein Fardust, the son of an Army Lieutenant. He was my classmate in Switzerland. Later with the rank of Colonel, he resumed lecturing in the Officers' College, and currently is serving in His Majesty's Guard.

According to a CIA report dated February 1976,

The Shah's communication and relations with his military and intelligence organs are conducted through one of his oldest friends, who was the Shah's classmate. Hossein Fardust and the Shah attended the same school, Le Rose, in Switzerland, and military school in Teheran... For a long time Fardust was the Chairman of the Shah's Special Information Office, as well as holding the rank of Deputy Chief in Savak.  Currently he is the Chairman of the Shah's Special Investigation office. He also acts as supervisor in the machinery of the Iranian government.

In my view the main role in that coup was played by the British. Lieutenant-General Fazlolah Zahedi was a British agent.  Major General Hassan Akhavi [the coup designer for the British] was the brain behind the Arfaa's group [of pro-British officers, discussed below]. The Rashidian brothers [discussed below] were all British agents. The British managed to obtain American support for dismissing Musadegh. Kermit Roosevelt [from the CIA] came to Iran to monitor the smooth running of the entire operation.

The first attempt

Four days before the September coup, Muhammad Reza [the Shah] issued two orders: one was the dismissal of Musadegh from the premiership; the second the appointment of Zahedi in his place as Prime Minister. This was a coup designed with the following detailed modus operandi.

A.  General Nasiri [then a colonel, in charge of His Majesty's Guard] would deliver Zahedi the order for new post as Prime Minister.

B.  Exactly at 10 pm Nasiri would deliver Musadegh's dismissal to him.  Two Guard officers would walk a short distance from Nasiri to protect him from unforeseen events.

The following situations were anticipated in the operation and plans were drawn to contain them.

1.  Musadegh would accept the King's order, avoiding the coup, and Zahedi would take his place.

2. Musadegh would reject the order, in which case the coup would enter its second phase.

The details of the coup plan was as follows.  Three army units, each chosen from a separate base would be on alert.  The commanders of these units were chosen carefully and had expressed their support.  If Musadegh rejected his dismissal order and ordered Nasiri to be put in the military prison, then the two guards accompanying Nasiri would alert these units in their bases by telephone to proceed with the coup.

The order for each army unit was as follows.

1.  One unit had the orders to surround Musadegh's house and arrest him.

2.  The second unit was assigned to take over the radio station.

3.  The third unit was ordered to be on stand-by waiting for the military commander's order.  Zahedi was assigned as the coup commander.

As soon as Zahedi was alerted to Nasiri's arrest [by Musadegh], he ordered the units to proceed according to the plan.  But none of the units obeyed his orders and decided to stay in their barracks.  As a result Zahedi and his supporters decided to go underground and hide themselves.  Brigadier General Reahi, a Musadegh supporter, was informed about the events. He immediately ordered all three army units to be disarmed and put in military prison. In the course of these operations, Reahi personally took part in the disarming of one of the units, and he sent Major General Sepahpour [Air Force Commander] and Brigadier General Mahmud Amini [Gendarmerie Commander] to two other barracks to disarm the remaining units.

During this the Shah, together with General Khatemi [then a major, and the Shah's personal pilot], Atabai [the Shah's personal secretary], and Soroya [the Queen], were in Noshar [a city in the north] waiting for the outcome of the coup.  As the news of the defeat got to the Shah, he escaped to Baghdad in Iraq. Later, when the commanders of the three units were asked why they had disobeyed their orders, they answered that since the Shah had gone to Noshar, vacating the capitol [Teheran], they did not dare to proceed alone.

The reasons for the failure were as follows.

1.  A great many people were aware of the coup plan.  People like Nasiri, Zahedi, the three unit commanders, two guard officers, a large number of other military personnel, were all aware, and at the same time apprehensive.  Consequently, the secret was out, causing gossip and the failure of the plan.

2. The assigned time - 10 pm - was not suitable.  Although there was no other alternative time to deliver Musadegh's dismissal orders, the darkness was a problem for the acting units.

3. The reaction of Generals Reahi [Defence Minister], Sepahpour [Air Force Commander] and Amini [Gendarmerie Commander] was not anticipated or calculated accurately.  There were no plans to contain their actions.

4. The lack of Zahedi's personal presence in the barracks, providing moral and psychological support to the unit commander in charge of attacking Musadegh's house was also a factor.

5. The Shah's absence from Teheran had a dramatic effect on these units.

The Shah landed in Baghdad

The Shah's plan landed in Baghdad to refuel.  Mozafar Asslam, the Iranian Ambassador in Baghdad, under Musadegh's orders, refused to meet the Shah at the airport.  In fact none of the embassy members dared to visit him.  After refuelling, the aircraft flew to Rome.  The Shah spent two days at the Excelsior Hotel during which the British and Americans maintained constant contact with him.

After learning of the Shah's escape, the Tudeh Party joined in the action, and in the course of demonstrations started removing statues of the Shah and shouted republican slogans. Was this the real Tudeh Party or a front party conveniently named Tudeh?  I suggest the latter.  Because the real Tudeh Party, based on their long political experience, would have entered into negotiations with Musadegh to strength their position, instead of causing a rapid reaction from the Americans, and the fullfilment of the coup d'etat.  Or it could have been the real Tudeh Party which played their card badly, or a bunch of thugs employed by the British who played their role precisely in accordance with the plan.....  in due course, when Musadegh noticed that the streets were filled with supporters of the Tudeh Party, he got worried.  He contacted the American embassy.  As a result the American ambassador met with the Shah in Italy. The Shah was briefed about the situation in Teheran, and two days before the actual coup a group of American officials again met with the Shah.  In Teheran, Musadegh was also in constant contact with the Americans about any developments.  Finally the parties reached an agreement.

On a yacht the MI6 station chief told me...

Later the MI6 station chief in Iran told me that at the beginning the Shah did not agree to return to Teheran, and suggested to the Americans that they appoint a military officer in Musadegh's place. The Americans seemed happy with this suggestion and did not insist on his return.  But the British insisted that he go back. This information was revealed to me in the course of my second intelligence training course in England almost ten years later.  During this trip one night the MI6 station chief in Iran invited me to dinner in a restaurant on a yacht on the Thames.  In the course of the conversation he said,

The Americans were seriously looking for a qualified military officer to replace Musadegh.  But we convinced them that after detailed study and search we had come to the conclusion that there was no officer qualified for the job.  Therefore it was better for the Shah to return. The Americans accepted, met with him in Rome and arranged the trip back to Teheran. It was us who encouraged the Americans to go ahead with the coup. If we had delayed, a communist coup would have stolen the show. Therefore, in order to rescue Iran from the grip of communism we decided that Musadegh had to go and the Shah must return.

Who was the designer and planner of the September 1953 coup?  Having paid $5,000,000 to Zahedi, the Americans credited Zahedi with its success.  But he did not spend $100 as expenses, and pocketed the entire sum.  In fact the main designer of the whole operation was Major General Akhavi.  During the operation he pretended to be ill and confined himself to bed in the Army's number 2 hospital in Teheran. He was worried about the failure of the coup, and this was a good alibi to avoid suspicion. Later on Akhavi was rewarded by the Shah by being appointed Minister for Agriculture.

I mentioned that at the time when Major General Arfaa was the Chief of Staff, a group of officers were staunch opponents of communism, and loyal supporters of the British. Arfaa himself was a strong supporter of the British.  Their number gradually grew in the army, and became like a party in military circles.  This group prior to the revolution [coup] was faithful to Arfaa, and to the West.  Akhavi was the main brain behind this movement, and the group.  He was for a while in charge of Military Intelligence in the Army, and fought a bitter war against communism in the army.  Independent of Zahedi [who claimed the credit for the coup], he was the main designer of the entire operation.  He did not receive or obey any orders from Zahedi.  Zahedi played no role whatsoever in the entire affair.

One of the main elements of the coup were the Rashidian brothers, Sayf-olah, Ghodrat-olah, Asadoolah. Their father, Habib-olah, was a British agent. Later all his sons became British agents. They were quite wealthy and owned several premises in Teheran. These brothers openly worked for the British. Amongst them, the youngest one, Asad-olah, had close relationships with the royal family. He was particularly close to Ashraf [the Shah's sister].  He had an immense influence on the corporations in Teheran.  Later he established the Corporation Bank....The Rashidians' role in the coup was the mobilisation of the small businessmen, bazaar people and the civilians in demonstrations to support the monarchy. They managed to mobilise a mob of 5 to 6 thousand people.  They found a female leader called Malakh Eatezadi. She tied her chadour [Islamic veil worn by women] around her waist and stood on a jeep to deliver slogans.  Her group started off from Naderi Street and moved towards Musadegh's house. The other group were the athletes from the Taj Club who were mobilised by Lieutenant General Khosrovani. The officers of the units which were disarmed in the previous coup attempt, also joined the mob.

Second attempt

1. In different parts of Teheran, already carefully marked, demonstrations were organised, their leaders were already carefully chosen.

2. The route and the time for each demonstration group was already chosen.  They started separately and joined together at a designated time.

3. The supporters of the athletic clubs were also to join the other demonstrating groups.

4. The slogans were to be in support of the monarchy and the Shah.

5. Then the officers of the Royal Guard would join the demonstrators and support them with their weapons.

6. A tank company, armed with machine guns and artillery, was to join the demonstrators.

7. When all the groups were joined together in Naderi-Shah Avenue, they would move towards Musadegh's house.

8.  A small military company was assigned to occupy the radio station.

9.  Musadegh's arrest was to be announced by the radio.

10. Zahedi with a tank company would move towards the Prime Minister's Office Building, occupy it and announce his cabinet.

11. The Shah would be asked to return to his homeland, and during a special ceremony, enter his palace.

The above objectives were achieved.  None of the military units supporting Musadegh showed any resistance and stayed in their barracks.  Demonstrators moved towards Musadegh's house.  A Colonel Rahimi got into a tank and started shooting at Musadegh's house. Musadegh escaped over the rooftop to his neighbour's house. The whole thing ended very simply. A group headed by Kermit Roosevelt was in Teheran supervising the entire operation.

I believe the purpose of the MI6 station chief was to make the Shah understand that it was the British who made it possible for him to return and continue his monarchy; therefore, basically, he owed his monarchy to them.  Had it not been for the interference of the British, the Americans would have preferred people like Zahedi and Taymoor Bakhtiar to him.  Six months after the coup Zahedi was sacked and ordered to leave Iran, with a ceremonial title of "Ambassador" to Geneva where he did nothing except waste huge sums of public money on his own pleasure....

.....The Egyptian coup of 1952 was the beginning of a closer cooperation between the intelligence services of the UK and USA in direct interference in the politics of that region.  After their first victory in November 1952, in Egypt, the two services realised that their combined efforts would produce  results: hence it was followed by the Iranian coup.  Contrary to the CIA's propaganda the Iranian coup was not an American operation but a joint MI6-CIA operation.