The protest movement in Iran in the 1960s was neither sustained nor widespread. Still, it did serve as a precursor of future Iran Cold War events.
The National Front and the Tudeh Party had been basically destroyed in the 1950s, and the secular nationalists were overpowered by the religious leadership.
The demonstrations clearly illuminated the problems of the opposition. As John Foran says in his 1993 book Fragile Resistance:
The National Front and ulama did not work together, divided on issues of land reform and votes for women. Nor did they have a well-articulated political culture of opposition to draw on at this point, with demands stopping well short of the overthrow of the regime or structural economic changes. The protest movement was neither sustained nor widespread as a result; reforms divided and confused the opposition, repression crushed the leadership and discouraged its social base.
The shah emerged from the fray with his regime intact. Subsequently, he initiated a ruthless attack on religious institutions.
The monarch began referring to the opposition as a “black reaction.” He noted that civil servants and industrial workers, especially oil workers, had failed to organize general strikes, and the army had kept its discipline.
Importantly. those abroad perceived a strengthening and consolidation of his rule. Having carried out the US mandate for internal reform, he was now ready to continue to press for actions consistent with his interpretation of his country’s security needs.
The shah was willing to deal with either superpower to achieve his objectives. In fact, he dealt with both over the course of the decade.
So far as America was concerned, a 1964 US-Iran military sales agreement provided for up to $50 million a year of weaponry (increased to $100 million after two years). But there were strings attached.
The US remained concerned that military purchases were interfering with economic and social progress, so sales were contingent on an annual review of Iran’s economic development and social programs. The shah saw this policy as an unwarranted interference in his country’s internal affairs.
There were other differences also.
In the context of the Cold War, America’s focus was on Soviet activities. The shah was more concerned about regional threats from Iraq or Egypt. He distrusted the Arabs and was concerned about the legacy of the Iraqi coup of 1958.
When US and Iranian interests diverged, the shah decided he would have to act on his own by diversifying sources of foreign aid.
In an unprecedented move, in 1967-1968, the shah obtained some military equipment from the Soviet Union. He also went forward with a prior agreement for the USSR to construct a steel mill in Isfahan. But more about that later.