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November 1952-August 1953
DRAFTING THE PLAN
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S E C R E T II. DRAFTING THE PLAN Near the end of April 1953 Dr. Donald N. Wilber, cov- ert consultant to NEA, was selected by the Division to go to Nicosia and, in close collaboration with SIS, draw up a plan for the overthrow of Mossadeq. The assumption by Headquarters was that the planners would come up with a project which they could conscientiously recommend. The discussions were begun at Nicosia on 13 May 1953 between Wilber and SIS Officer Norman Matthew Darbyshire. Occasionally Mr. H. John Collins, Chief of SIS station at Nicosia, was also present. Mr. Darbyshire, who was in charge of SIS's Iran branch, had been in Iran for several years and was fluent in the language. Discussions were concluded on 30 May 1953, and the completed draft of a recommended operational plan was cabled by Dr. Wilber to Headquarters on 1 June. The opening meetins consisted of a review of all the important personalities on the political scene in Iran with a view toward determining whether General Zahedi, the most prominent politician in opposition to Mossadeq, was in fact the sole figure worthy of support and, if so, what individuals and elements should be enlisted in his support. It soon became apparent that Dr. Wilber and 5 S E C R E T
S E C R E T Mr. Darbyshire held quite similar views of Iranian person- alities and had made very similar estimates of the factors involved in the Iranian political scene. There was no friction or marked difference of opinion during the dis- cussions. It alsop quickely became apparent that the SIS was perfectly content to follow whatever lead was taken by the Agency. It seemed obvious to Wilber that the Brit- ish were very pleased at having obtained the active coop- eration of the Agency and were determined to do nothing which might jeopardize US participation. At the same time there was a faint note of envy expressed over the fact that the Agency was better equipped in the way of funds, person- nel, and facilities than was SIS. Wilber reported the preliminary conversations concern- ing a three-way channel, set up for this occasion, which was designed to insure immediate relay between Washington, Nicosia, and Tehran. That is, a message originating at any one of these places would be sent by the most expeditious route to the other two. This route was the Middle East Communications Authority (MECA) link, the relay station a few miles outside of Nicosia.* _____________________ *Unfortunately, communications between Nicosia and Tehran were not as rapid as was hoped during this period in which more than 45 cables were exchanged. 6 S E C R E T
S E C R E T Discussions at Nicosia moved on to a disclosure of assets by both parties. Those by SIS were centered upon the contacts of the Rashidian brothers in such fields as the armed forces, the Majlis (Iranian Parliament), reli- gious leaders, the press, street gangs, politicians, and other influential figures. When this material was relayed from Nicosia, the Tehran Station commented that it was their belief that these assets had been far overstated and oversold. In reply it was pointed out that SIS was as aware as we of the weaknesses of the Rashidians, but that one of the strongest points in their favor was their avowed willingness to risk their possessions and their lives in an attempt against Mossadeq. In the critical days of August 1953 the Rashidians did display such a willingness. SIS disclosures were followed by those of Dr. Wilber for CIA. Prior to Wilber's departure a dis- cussion was held at Headquarters to determine which of the station assets should be disclosed to the SIS in return for promised disclosures by the SIS of the assets which they were prepared to put into an operational plan. It was agreed at Headquarters that the identities of the vitally important principal agents of the Tehran Station, [Djalili] [and Keyvani] [ ] would not be disclosed. Since the SIS had been 7 S E C R E T
S E C R E T informed during the November 1952 meetings referred to above that CIA had two major principal agents in Iran, it was necessary to offer two such in place of [Djalili and] [Keyvani]. This was done, naming a station agent and a sub-agent** of [ ] to these important posts. To the best of our knowledge [Djalili and Keyvani] were not uncovered by the Rashidian brothers or any other SIS agents during the course of this operation. The continuing conversations at Nicosia were reflected by outgoing cables requesting, principally from the Tehran Station, information which would be helpful in drafting the operational plan. Discussions now narrowed down to a series of basic assumptions which were stressed both in the draft plan and in its final form. It was determined that the details of the operational plan should be included within a framework of such basic assumptions as these: that Zahedi alone of potential candidates had the vigor and courage to make him worthy of support; that the Shah must be brought into the operation; that the Shah would act only with great reluc- tance but that he could be forced to do so; that if the ______________________ [ ] [ ] [ ] 8 S E C R E T
S E C R E T issue was clear-cut the armed forces would follow the Shah rather than Mossadeq; that the operation must, if possible, be made to appear legal or quasi-legal instead of an outright coup; that public opinion must be fanned to fever pitch against Mossadeq in the period just preceding the execution of the overthrow operation; that the military aspect would be successful only if the station were able to review the plan with the Iranians chosen by Zahedi to execute it; that immediate precautions must be taken by the new government to meet a strong reaction by the Tudeh Party. Some of these assumptions were presented in cables sent off before the draft plan was completed. The reactions from the Tehran Station and Headquarters did not always express agreement with the ideas of the planners. The station expressed its feeling that the Shah would not act decisively against Mossadeq, while Headquarters wondered whether we should not support some other individual and whether the Persians themselves might not take the lead in action designed to overthrow Mossadeq. It was, however, agreed that the station should begin at once with its new policy of attacking the government of Mossadeq through grey propaganda. The station relayed this line to its own agents and passed it on to the Rashidian brothers of SIS. The CIA Art Group, a section of the PP Staff Advisory Panel, was 9 S E C R E T
S E C R E T asked to prepare a considerable number of anti-Mossadeq cartoons. The meetings were interrupted for several days when one of the Rashidian brothers managed to get permission to leave Iran*--not at all an easy matter during the Mossadeq period--and went to Geneva where he was met by SIS Officer Norman Darbyshire. He not only briefed Darbyshire on the current situation but was able to give comprehensive answers to a number of specific questions. It should be noted that the SIS station at Nicosia had been in tri-weekly wireless contact with the Rashidian brothers at Tehran, employing the best of the Britishtrained staybehind operators. This contact, in Persian, was naturally limited in time, and even more limited after we passed word to Darbyshire on his return from Geneva that the Iranian armed forces were now in possession of directional finders supplied under MAAG. Mr. George A. Carroll (FI Deputy Tehran, Designate) arrived at Nicosia on 29 May, in time to pass along reactions ____________________ *It is interesting to note that Rashidian obtained his exit visa to leave Iran and his reentry permit from no less a supporter of Mossadeq than Foreign Minister Hoseyn Fatemi. This lends some evidence to long held CIA views that Fatemi was from time to time susceptible to British overtures and was trying to keep a hand in with the opposition and British in the event Mossadeq fell. He was certainly aware of Rashidian's agent status with the British. 10 S E C R E T
S E C R E T and suggestions from Headquarters, prior to the completion of the draft plan. As stated, this draft was cabled to Head- wuarters on 1 June 1953. (See Appendix A for a typed transcript of the cable.) While Nicosia proved to be a hand point of contact with the British and a fairly good communications intersection point, it di have certain disadvantages. It was remote from the headquarters of either agency, and, even worse, the SIS station files were extremely inadequate so that any in- formation on personalities, especially members of the Iranian armed forces, had to be obtained by querying the Tehran Station and Headquarters. Once the draft paln had been cabled, it was agreed with SIS that their copy would be hand-carried to London where the viewpoint of the SIS headquarters would be incorporated prior to 15 June. In the meantime, as had been agreed with Headquarteers, the Agency would conduct a searching scrutiny of the plan at Beirut, and then bring these results to Lon- don for amalgamation with the draft as reworked by SIS at London. Carroll remained a few days after the completion of the draft to begin work on the military aspect of the plan. He also returned to Nicosia for a few additional days after the close of the Beirut meetings for this purpose. It must be noted that Miss Helen E. Morgan, CIA representative at Nicosia, gave strong support to the CIA personnel who worked at Nicosia. 11 S E C R E T