Historical Reasons for Iran’s Suspicion of Britain

British Parliament, House of Lords Look Backward

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | November 27, 2007                        

Acknowledging the past.

British House of Commons | Archive
British House of Lords | Iran Archive
British Foreign Office documents on Iran
Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC/BP) | Archive

Westminster Hall, October 11, 2005: UK Relations With Iran

Dr. Phyllis Starkey (Milton Keynes, South-West) (Labor):

“The UK and the EU have a key role in helping to find a negotiated solution to the nuclear issue, but we need to remind ourselves of our history in relation to the region, because people in the region know the history and tend to see the current action of the UK, France and the US through the historical prism of our past behaviour in the region.

In the early years of the 20th century, Britain and the Russians agreed to divide Iran into spheres of influence. In 1919 Iran had a trade agreement with Great Britain in which, although Britain formally reaffirmed Iran’s independence, it attempted to establish a complete protectorate over it. I imagine that everyone is aware that Iran’s Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadeq — he was elected to the Iranian Parliament in 1923 and again in 1944 and became Prime Minister in 1951 — was removed from power in 1953 in a complex plot orchestrated by the British and US intelligence agencies. The present Government do not need to apologize for our past behavior; however, we need to be aware of it, as the Iranians have historical reasons for not regarding all that we and the US do as being totally above board or without some ulterior motive. That is why we should be careful.” [If apologies are not necessary for the coup, why apologize for anything?]

House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee: IRAN

Third Report of Session 2003-2004 - Published March 19, 2004

“In events which are in the recent memory of a people and nation who trace their origins back to the beginning of recorded history, the United Kingdom, together with the United States, sponsored a coup in 1953 which overthrew the nationalist government of Dr Mohammed Mossadeq and restored the Shah to power. The original CIA account of this episode, which sheds considerable light on the roles of the Foreign Office and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), was published in 2000. The motivation behind the coup appears to be twofold: anxiety about the nationalization of Iran’s huge oil and gas reserves; and concern that Iran might fall under Soviet influence.

Given this history, it is hardly surprising that Iranians are said to see the hand of the United Kingdom behind every suspicious development in their country.”

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Related links:

The House of Lords on Britain's Criminal History in Iran

Christopher Hitchens on the 1953 coup "Atrocity" in Iran

BBC Persian documentary on Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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