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Main factors and causes of Iran National Movement Failure; Interview with Dr. Ehsan Naraghi

You know that after the Second World War, England was gradually replaced by the US and the Soviet Union’s goal was to fight the US after that. England, pursuing its oil interests in the south of Iran, did not oppose the oil concessions of the north of Iran ...

By: Morteza Rasoulipour

 

□When the oil nationalization plan was approved in the parliament you were involved in student activities in Europe. Tell us about the international conditions at the time and what was the reaction towards this plan among Iranian students in Europe?

You know that after the Second World War, England was gradually replaced by the US and the Soviet Union’s goal was to fight the US after that. England, pursuing its oil interests in the south of Iran, did not oppose the oil concessions of the north of Iran for the Soviet in the Azerbaijan crisis and the Soviet’s failure in achieving the oil concessions was more due to the US’ stubbornness and Truman’s disagreement. Oil extraction in Iran in the first years of the twentieth century placed Iran in an exceptional position because it was a strong source of energy and had great importance. In the years after the Second World War this source of energy became an important tool for fighting the English. The political significance of oil for Iran was like the Suez Canal for Egypt. As you pointed out I was among the student activists in Europe before oil nationalization campaign and like many other I was leftist interests. The matter of oil was a subject which completely drove me away from the Tudeh party and the Soviet Union. Of course I had doubts about their integrity before that but the oil nationalization plan showed me how distant they are from the truth because I realized that the Tudeh party and the Soviet Union, having an ideological view towards oil and the national movement, believe that a national movement will not appear by itself in a colonized and dependent country and it is the Imperialism which intends to completely eradicate the proletarian by raising national bourgeoisie in Iran. From their point of view, this movement was not original because it did not fit in to Marxist frameworks and the Iran National movement was the first movement in the world against modern colonialism. When I met Iraj Eskandari in Paris, he couldn’t even imagine this movement and he honestly said that this is the US’ game and has no origin. Maybe at that time the Soviet had not yet shown its true face and many of the followers still believed that this country is the home of freedom and defender of the oppressed nations. I remember when Mr. Razavi, who was a leader of the national front, became vice chairman of the parliament, since he had some Tudei interests, he officially stated that we will not let our oil to go to the west and quench Europe. This was a kind of partiality towards the east and the Soviet Union.

 

□To what extent were the political representatives, ambassadors and the foreign ministry staff outside the country, especially in Europe, coordinated with the policies of Iran national leaders?

When I was in the first student movement in Switzerland, the newspapers of this country severely attacked Iran for two months and Iran embassy did not dare defend Iran because they couldn’t talk against England and actually confronting England’s policies was even unimaginable for the authorities of Iranian embassy in Europe.

I remember on an Easter, a national holiday, we held a meeting for which I was the operator. In hat meeting we decided to write a letter to Dr. Mosadegh and notify him about the matters happening in Switzerland and its newspapers. We told him that they have written: why don’t the English navy forces bombard Abadan, what do these illiterate, uncultured people own to ask for oil nationalization?! When the university was opened and classes started we held another meeting. In that meeting we received a letter from Abulqasem Forouhar, Iran’s ambassador in Bern, stating that our meeting was not official because we had to notify them two weeks in advance and that these matters are not related to us! This happened while we had received a letter from Dr. Mosadegh before thanking and praising us and stating: you are our real ambassadors abroad.

 

□When was this?

When Dr. Mosadegh was chairman of the special commission on oil in the 16th parliament and was not yet prime minister; when we read the ambassador’s letter it was a disgrace. In fact when Mosadegh became prime minister the first ambassador to be dismissed was Forouhar. I mean to say that the foreign ministry on those days was not entirely coordinated with Mosadegh and the aims of the oil National front. Maybe 80% of our diplomats thought like Forouhar and this was one of Mosadegh’s main problems and he was suspicious of these men because they didn’t follow him. Our diplomats did not realize Mosadegh’s problems and Mosadegh did not trust them either and that’s why in the US he prevented Nosrat-Allah Entezam from participating in the negotiations, something everyone is aware of. Mosadegh did not trust ay of the diplomats in Iran foreign ministry and this was of the problems of this old man. Anyhow, student activities outside Iran were followed by this reaction from Dr. Mosadegh.

 

□What was the relation between England and the US outside Iran? What is evident is that the US agreed with the oil nationalization plan at first. How did this change?

Yes, the US agreed to this and England was upset by the US position but he couldn’t confront them and he looked for a chance to change that. When Churchill, from the conservative party, gained power the situation changed a little. Mr. Allahyar Slaeh told me himself: “when I was Iran’s ambassador in the US, Truman’s deputy told me to inform Mosadegh that we can’t oppose England anymore for your sake, this country has been with us all through the World War and is one of our allies, you have to somehow solve your problem yourself. The US change of position was a little related to the cold war, the Soviet Union and their fear of communism influence and some of it related to its economic advantages.

 

□How did you see the conflict between Ayatollah Kashani and Dr. Mosadegh? When did it start and what was it about?

I came back to Iran at the end of August 1952 and due to the kinship I had with Ayatollah Kashani, I stayed in his house from the beginning. He told me that foreign reporters and diplomats come here and asked me to translate and I liked it very much because it was educational for me.  His house was like a political club for me and all kinds of people from different levels of society, from the market leaders to clergies and members of the national front, members of the parliament and people who favored the movement came there. Cordial relations still existed among the leaders of the movement. But Dr. Mosadegh’s house was not so and mostly official meetings were held there.

When Dr. Mosadegh presented the authorities act to the parliament in August, although the parliament approved, but little by little whispers of dissent were heard. Of course the real disagreement of Ayatollah Kashani happened when Dr. Mosadegh asked for the renewal of the act for another year. The thing was that those opposing the act and a number of the representatives came to Ayatollah Kashani and complained. Kashani didn’t disagree with the approval of this act in the first round because he understood the critical situation of the country but he wouldn’t tolerate its renewal for another year. Of course we must accept that when Dr. Mosadegh took over authority he was able to approve laws which any reformist wished for, meaning that he didn’t want to use this power for his own advantage and he emphasized time after time that: I am not a dictator.He believed that the parliament is in a state which hinders the approval of these laws. This was one case of dispute between Kashani and Mosadegh. Another was about Dr. Mosadegh’s appointments. Kashani said: you always said before you all the prime ministers were tools of the English embassy, why have you appointed Saham-al-Sultan Bayat, who is a relative of yours, as head of the board of Oil Company? H also opposed the appointment general Mohammad Daftari as the head of the armed forces because when they wanted to send Kashani to exile, Daftari, as the military police commander, had arrested him in an insulting way and Mr. Kashani was very upset. He opposed the appointment of Reza Falah in the Oil Company too because he believed he is not suitable as the close advisor in the oil affairs because he was awarded a Wounded Knee medal for protecting the queen of England. In the Oil Company, people like Parkhideh and Hasan Nozari did not favor Falah and considered him anglophile. These disagreements were revealed and it reached a point that one day at a dinner party in our house, Ayatollah Kashani was present too and my father and uncle, who were close relatives of Kashani, suggested to him to go to France for treatment and said that his passport and visa are ready too. He said it is better to consult Dr. Mosadegh about this. After consulting Mosadegh he says it is better if you stay in Iran and so and so. The pessimists who surrounded Kashani told him that Mosadegh wants you here because when matters reach a critical stage, he wants to reduce your popularity. While in such struggle and conflict the weakening of Kashani may not have led to Mosadegh’s advantage.

 

Who do you think provoked this disagreement more?

I think Dr. Baghaei was an agent due to the position he held. He was a stubborn and hardheaded man and since the oil bill was introduced in the 15th parliament and the minority representatives, especially Maki, resisted the approval of Gas-Golshaeian additional bill, Baghaei became very close to Mr. Kashani. When Baghaei began opposing Dr. Mosadegh, he used Kashani’s affection towards himself by the tenacity and stubbornness he showed, as if experience proves that the opposition of people, who do not fight for sustenance, when placed in the opposition, cannot be stopped by anyone. Of course when Dr. Fatemi was appointed for the foreign ministry, he aggregated the dispute due to his own way of thinking.

 

□What do you know of the incident on February 28th 1953?

I was with Mr. Kashani that day, from morning until 2 or 3 in the afternoon that incident became a tool for intensifying the disagreements because no one knew the Shah is leaving the country and Dr. Mosadegh had kept it a secret because he was afraid that the opposition would make trouble. This news was a tool for the trouble makers to entertain fantasies in their minds.

 

□One part of the opposition existed inside the national front which is not dealt with very much; I mean the opposition of some of Mosadegh’s followers with Dr. Fatemi’s radicalism. Do you have any information about this?

Yes, Mr. Sepehr Zabih has dealt with this in his book named: Iran at the time of Mosadegh, which I think is very important. He, who was a friend of Dr. Fatemi mentions his conversation with Dr. Fatemi at the beginning of August 1954 and says: Fatemi’s idea about the divergence of the national front leader was that their divergence leads to the strength of the national government because most of them are opportunists who have joined Mosadegh for their own personal and political advantage. Fatemi was certain that most of Mosadegh’s followers would condemn the diverged as traitors. Fatemi, thought nothing of people like Kashani and Baghaei and Maki and believed that their background shows they are opportunists and cannot be politically relied on. About the activities of Tudeh party, Dr. Fatemi underestimated the danger of this party in elevating internal disorganization and mentioned the party’s leaders using degrading words. Fatemi believed that the west intentionally intensified the danger of Tudeh party to scare the conservative groups of Iran. On the other hand, Dr. Fatemi believed that the Shah is in no better position in conspiring against Mosadegh than the days before the revolt on July 21st. he believed that Mosadegh can outbid other politicians and drive out the competition and the Shah’s efforts in separating people like Baghaei and Kashani from the national front would practically benefit Mosadegh more. The events leading to the fall of Mosadegh showed that Dr. Fatemi still had optimistic views while his assessments were not correct in many cases. He did not care about internal chaos and dissatisfactions and believed that our country has lived without oil for many centuries and can do so now too. Maybe Fatemi’s most mistaken calculation was related to people’s support of the national front and inactivity of the Tudeh party while the people were really tired. I too think that Mosadegh was more the enemy of the Shah and England rather than the Tudeh party.

شناسه مطلب : 1979|
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