At that time and during Dr. Mosadegh’s premiership I was not very involved with political matters. In other words I had no political position but from my later studies I became aware that according to his talks and the reports he presented to the Security Council ...
Nationalization of the oil industry and the votes of clergies and sages; interview with Master Abdolhussein Haeri
By: Morteza Rasoulipoor
□After 50 years from the incident on August 19th 1954 and the fall of Dr. Mosadegh’s government, it seems that a fair judgment about the oil nationalization period is still not realized in some circles. Some believe Dr. Mosadegh to be a devil and some a saint. What do you know of Dr. Mosadegh’s character?
At that time and during Dr. Mosadegh’s premiership I was not very involved with political matters. In other words I had no political position but from my later studies I became aware that according to his talks and the reports he presented to the Security Council and The Hague international court of justice it seemed as though Dr. Mosadegh looked for an opportunity to cut the hands of the foreigners and outsiders from Iran. He severely criticized the oil company and theEnglish tyranny in Iran and he knew that the oil company is the operating agent of the English policy in all of Iran. The financial and economic matters of the oil concession were just a small aspect and no compromise in the oil position responded to his heartache. His enmity with England was deep-rooted because he didn’t endure any kind of insult. He had a rebellious spirit against the foreign influence in Iran and so didn’t trust their words. From his talks I feel that he was outraged with the British and thought that their roots must be cut off from Iran with the opportunity at hand. The question raised by some, stating that Iran’s advantage was in compromise with the British, is a doubt but I prefer his action as a national feeling. Maybe Dr. Mosadegh thought that the suggestions made finally led to what happened in the consortium agreement although it had a nice and soft appearance.
□Some believe that Dr. Mosadegh was under the influence of the American democracy and his view towards the American government as a neutral country was too optimistic. What do you think about that?
I don’t believe so. The Americans supported Dr. Mosadegh to some extent at the beginning of the movement and Dr. Mosadegh seemed to be hopeful but when they came to Iran and talked, Dr. Mosadegh did not accept and even the American representative who had met with Dr. Mosadegh was angry because he did not accept their words. Maybe at the beginning Dr. Mosadegh was a little optimistic towards the role of the Americans but later he clearly expressed: the Americans did not help us much/ they only sent two helicopters to Iran for the distribution of DDT. This was their only aid towards Iran. Undoubtedly Mosadegh had never built his hopes on the Americans. I think that the biggest blame is on the Shah who fought Mosadegh’s government unchivalrously and helped the enemy in bringing down Mosadegh’s national government.
□The main criticisms against Dr. Mosadegh are the authority bill, holding a referendum and closure of the seventh parliament. Of course people like Dr. Sedighi, Abdollah Moazzami and Khalil Maleki who were also from Mosadegh’s followers and close friends did not agree with the closure of the parliament. What is your opinion?
The reality is that there was difference of opinion about how to run the country. Obtaining the authority bill in the first and second phases was with the parliament’s agreement and the representatives gave this right to the government themselves. In the second time most representatives agreed to the extension of the authority bill too. Although Ayatollah Kashani did not agree, the matter elevated after Dr. Mosadegh’s negotiation and they came to an agreement. About the closure of the parliament and holding a referendum, I don’t know the main reason for this and have no answer to give you. It was said that the parliament is against Dr. Mosadegh while in my opinion a great number of the representatives were advocates of Mosadegh’s government. I don’t deny Mosadegh’s stubbornness, maybe he so, it is possible but I think Ayatollah Kashani was deceived by Zahedi because the next day after Mosadegh’s fall, he said in an interview: we won, we won. Well this was Ayatollah Kashani’s word. I never forget this.
You must remember the country’s atmosphere in those days;the state of Mosadegh’s government which is not explicable for me. What can I say? In the incident on February 28th, Haj Aqa Baha-al-Din Nouri, Ayatollah Haj Mirza Abdollah Chehelsotouni and Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Behbahani were raised on people’s hands in front of Shah’s house asking the Shah not to leave the country and etc. the photos and reports of which were printed in the newspapers of the time. What can I say!
□What do you know of Ayatollah Boroujerdi and other clergies’ view towards Dr. Mosadegh’s premiership and the August 19th incident?
I must say that Ayatollah Boroujerdi was in agreement with Mosadegh and he had once said about the incident in Qom (appointment of Masoumeh (PBUH)’s vice guardianship): the head of government has not called me in this regard; this shows that he was in agreement with the prime minister. But the likes of Mr. Behbahani were against Dr. Mosadegh from the beginning. In the last days of August 1954 I had to go to Qom and there I noticed a group (thought to be Tudei by some) distributed dangerous leaflets in the clergies’ houses at night. In the leaflets the clergies were threatened telling them they will be hanged the next day. These leaflets were distributed in to the houses of Ayatollah Boroujerdi and the others. I don’t know what this game was but it was something I witnessed. That’s why when Mosadegh crashed the clergies were very happy. I was in Qom on those days, I remember visiting an old cleric who was very ill; while very sick he was happy and upon hearing about the arrest of Fatemi and his torture he was very joyous. The atmosphere in Qom regarding Mosadegh’s government was poisoned. One day I went to bath in Qom and I heard the masseur telling his friend about the price of peas increasing by 1 Rls and so and so. I noticed that someone is severely advertising and operating against Dr. Mosadegh. On the other hand Mosadegh was also disfavored and unloved by his associates and followers. In one of his trials this point is reflectedwell when on one of the days of the Coup he couldn’t reach Brigadier Riahi from noon until night and finally at 9 pm Mr. Riahi called Mosadegh asking what he wanted, and at that time everything was over. Mosadegh asked: did I not order a tank guarding the street? Why is it not there? The prime minister had ordered for a tank to guard the street leading to his house from the first coup on august 16th to stop any kind of possible attack and onslaught. Riahi answered: we didn’t think it necessary. These are the things I have seen and heard and know. This incident really upset me. Especially because I saw those things in Qom and I realized most clergies have wrongly turned against Mosadegh because they thought he has empowered the Tudeis. All in all unjust advertisements had been carried out against Mosadegh. He was a Muslim, liberal man wishing for Iran’s independence from the foreign dominance.
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