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December 9, 1946

Memo via a Telegraph Message from Tabriz


Top Secret




via a telegraph message from Tabriz


The oil question can be decided in favor of the Soviet Union only if there stand behind it societal forces, which at the present time are experiencing extraordinary repression in various points throughout Iran.


However, these forces have not yet been completely destroyed.


In Azerbaijan we have considerable strength capable of exerting serious pressure on the Tehran government.


Democratic and freedom-loving forces in other parts of Iran can support us, but unfortunately if the present situation continues then our strength can be lost.  Then Qavam and other reactionaries can carry out their policy without hindrance in order to build a policy in accordance with Qavam’s good wishes or that of some other state figure – a dangerous matter.


Only progressive and democratic strata of the people can be genuine supporters of the Soviet Union and therefore these forces need to be supported and in particular the Azerbaijani democratic movement [needs to be] defended and upheld.


It is also necessary to have in mind that the foreign states dealing in policy in Iran have not abandoned their forces and influence; in particular the British are always trying to preserve their supporters, win their trust, and use them for their advantage. For example, they can serve events in Qashqai, where, as it known, a large armed rally [vystupleniye] against the state was organized and now the British are not giving the government a chance to disarm these tribes.


The Qashqai, the Bakhtiaris, and other regions of the south, where tribes live have been turned into impregnable fortresses of the British, who daily reinforce and augment the reactionary forces in these regions.


You well know that [one] not always manages to arouse the people and organize a popular movement [and] the appropriate conditions are not always present for a large popular movement.


Now, thanks to [their] dedication, public labor forces arose in Iran deserving of attention, but in Azerbaijan a great people’s movement was created that is a direct assistant of the Soviet state in Iran and a champion of Soviet policy. This people’s movement is a powerful tool to carry out Soviet policy and thanks to it the Soviet government, like the entire Iranian people, can do great things.


The Azerbaijani movement is a force ready for any sacrifice and if we so quickly lose this force then it will be impossible to create such a movement.


We do not understand why we should voluntarily hand ourselves over to executioners at the same time that in Greece, Indonesia, and other countries people with weapons in their hands are fighting for their liberation. This is not just our word, it is openly said by our people and all members of our Party.  The members of the party and the people say that having in [our] hands all the reasons and documents we could no longer trust papers and words and believe Qavam and others. Qavam will go, but another will take his place.


If we do not destroy the reactionaries then politics will never turn in our favor. We have no guarantees and cannot deceive ourselves; we cannot lose the opportunity which we have today. If we give up then history will forever curse us.


Never in the world has a people destroyed their power with their own hands and we should not do this.


Qavam’s sending a treacherous force against us has aroused the deep resentment of our people.


With empty hands the people are turning to us in groups with demands to allow them to be sent to the front to defend their liberty.


This speaks of the patriotism of our people.


The attitude of large landowners and other reactionary elements like Amir Nusrat Iskandari, Dzhmal Imami, and Zul’fugari cannot serve as an example for the mood of the people. The attitude of these elements can express an attitude only of those who have been deprived of their dominance and lands.


The population of the city and village who have received freedom and land is ready for any sacrifices in the name of preserving their gains.


If we permit an opportunity for freedom to be destroyed, then [we] will not be able to rouse the people again, for they will no longer trust anyone and not only we, but all the forces which rose for the struggle under the banners of freedom will lose confidence.


All our strength and power is tied to and depends on the will of the people.


The Azerbaijani people, their guiding Democratic Party and its leaders have entrusted [their] hopes on the leadership of the state in two questions: in the first place, in the situation that our borders be open and we have national power, we request a number of weapons, for in the future this will not be permitted. We will easily and very furtively deliver these weapons from enemy hands to our national forces.  For afterwards, repelling and developing combat operations will henceforth be very difficult.


We are not requesting a large number of weapons; we want to have as many as are required to arm our fedai [militia]; they are in no condition to fight the enemy without weapons.


In the second place, since Qavam began the war and shed the blood of our brothers we request [you] also allow us [to conduct] combat operations in sectors advantageous to us, support the freedom-loving forces of Iran, and thereby allow an opportunity for the development in Iran of a large popular movement capable of overthrowing the reactionary government and forming a democratic one.


If this turns out to be inadvisable, then allow use to complete cut our ties with Tehran and form our national government (the people prefer the latter measure).


We will fight honorably and achieve whichever measure of the two is more acceptable for the Soviet state.


It is necessary to note that the unmasking of the real face of Qavam has occurred before he was able to appoint the command of our division.


If this had occurred after the transfer of command to Tehran then he could have completely destroyed us.  Therefore the Azerbaijani people see the attack of Qavam as good fortune (a favorable circumstance).


Qavam could have begun a general offensive after eliminating our capabilities.


Right now we have the forces to defend ourselves and if these forces are correctly used we can achieve our goal.


However, the smallest hesitation and vacillation can lead to the elimination of our capabilities for, as indicated above, the people can despair and the reactionaries could destroy their armed forces and this could lead to the elimination of the great influence and prestige which the Soviet Union has won in Iran as a result of its activity for several years.


As a result of this Iran has completely ended up in the clutches of the British and Americans and a despotism has been established in the country exceeding the dictatorship of Reza Shah, but the Iranian people are losing the opportunity to act in the spirit of a Soviet persuasion [oriyentatsiya].


If it is impossible, they will speak of an oil concession in Iran and the Soviet state cannot get them [sic]. Of this, we have no doubt.


A defeat of the Soviet government in the matter of oil in Iran means a defeat in conducting a progressive policy in Iran.


This in its turn is a great blow to the democratic movement of Azerbaijan, since the Azerbaijani movement, having exerted a positive influence on the Near East, can exert a negative influence if it is destroyed.


We repeat that it is impossible to achieve a solution to the problem by negotiations and agreements.


The Soviet government is striving toward peace and coordination, but at the same time the American and British governments are a hundred times more striving to draw the Iranian government into a civil [vnutrennaya] war and bloodletting, creating forever a possibility for conflict. Today there it is not peace when Qavam receives an enormous sum of money from the American embassy. An enormous amount of weapons are being sent to Iran from Britain and other reactionary countries.


The armaments being unloaded in Ahvaz are being sent directly to Zanjan and directed against us.


We do not want a lot of aid from the Soviet government and give a pretext in any way for provocations against the Soviet Union.  The Soviet government cannot outwardly give us sympathy, but since the Iranian government does not wish the Soviet Union as an intermediary in the matter of resolving the conflict by peaceful means then we want the Soviet government to give us the opportunity to oppose Tehran in the same manner Tehran itself has chosen.


First Qavam, and now the British and Americans say that the Azerbaijani question is a domestic problem, so we say the same thing. During their attack on Azerbaijan let our fedai crush their heads and then we will say that the Azerbaijani question is a domestic problem so long as we decide it independently. Otherwise, no one can make a hullabaloo against the Soviet Union in the Security Council or in other foreign countries.


As indicated above, if the Soviet Union gives us aid secretly then the Iranian government will have no pretext to raise the question in the Security Council.


In conclusion, I again repeat that from now on negotiations and agreements are of no use.


Our people [and] our Party and its leaders all hope only for weapons and expect from them only their rescue, but this is associated only with a little weapons aid from you.


At the present time tens of thousands of peasants are demanding weapons and you could save the freedom of the Iranian people with timely aid and also [save] Soviet policy from danger; otherwise, the danger is very near and very great.


Again it has been noted that it is possible that Qavam will stop the attack for some time, but it is impossible to believe this; it is only a simply maneuver.  We have no doubt that Qavam is seriously preparing to destroy the Azerbaijani movement.


Right now there is no other path for us. The danger is more perceptible than the attack itself. Such a situation can lead to our gradually dying out and finally to complete destruction.  


We await your personal aid with impatience.


With deep respect: Pishevari, Shabustari, Padegan, Doctor Dzhavid, Daneshyan


7 December 46   Kuliyev


Minister of State Security of the Azerbaijan SSR

General-Major Yemel’yanov [signed]


9 December 1946

No 3691-3692/538


Forwarding a message from the leaders of the Azerbaijan Democratic Party begging for military aid from the Soviet Union against Iranian forces.


Document Information


GAPPOD, f.1, op.89, d.114. Obtained for CWIHP by Jamil Hasanli and translated for CWIHP by Gary Goldberg.


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