Soviet Tempts Britain with Iran ‘Deal’?

Constantine Brown — April 29, 1953

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | November 21, 2017                    

There’s a lot of unsubstantiated claims (that never materialized) in this piece by Constantine Brown, the conservative former Chicago Daily News foreign Bureau Chief and nationally syndicated columnist. Brown was the co-author of The American Diplomatic Game (1935) with colleague Drew Pearson, and released his memoir The Coming of the Whirlwind, in 1964. His wife, Elizabeth Churchill Brown, was also a journalist.

Soviet ‘Peace Drive’ Aimed At Splitting Western Allies

By Constantine Brown

Columnist Constantine Brown The Kremlin manifestations, which should be described as a “diplomatic” and not “peace” offensive, continue unabated. They are directed principally at the major European nations—Great Britain, France and Germany—and are aimed to create a real rift between Western Europe and the United States.

There is a deep suspicion in responsible quarters in Washington that besides the empty words which are being poured by the Kremlin into the ears of our Western European allies some more tangible propositions are being made in secret to the British government for a future Anglo-Soviet cooperation in the Middle East. These advances are said to concern principally Iran at this time.

The USSR is reported to have suggested to the British a partition of Iran, with Britain occupying the southern section where the oil wells and refinery installations of the Anglo-Iranian Company are situated, while the Reds would occupy the equally oil-rich northern portion, the Azerbaijan province.

IN THE LAST few weeks the Iranian situation has become more alarming than ever before. Prime Minister Mossadegh has overplayed his hand. The treasury is empty; Iranian officials and the army—Mossadegh’s mainstay—have not been paid for months.

The recent dismissal of Hossein Ala, the Court Minister, an outstanding man and strong supporter of the West, further weakened whatever flimsy authority Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlevi [sic—Mohammad Reza Pahlavi] may still have had, and deprived him of his only reliable adviser. [Ala resigned, at least superficially]

Shah Riza is reported to wish to abdicate and leave the country. But he is in fact a prisoner in his own palace. Uprisings, rebellions and political murders are daily occurrences in that unhappy “key to the Middle East.” Behind these agitations is the omnipresent Tudeh Communist Party and the Soviet Embassy in Tehran.

Mossadegh has belatedly indicated that he would be willing to settle the conflict over the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company which has caused this situation. The British are adamant on one point. They demand an undetermined sum for the profits the oil concession would have brought them during the remaining eight years. All negotiations undertaken by our initiative on this matter have foundered.

The reported Moscow suggestion that Iran be divided between the USSR and Britain cannot be but pleasing to the London government. After Mossadegh ordered arbitrarily the nationalization of the Iranian oil fields, Clement Attlee’s Labor government intended to send a British division and units of the fleet to Southwestern Iran under the pretext that these forces were necessary to maintain order and guarantee British lives and property. British warships started moving into the Persian Gulf and ground forces were ordered to stand by to be taken over in transport planes.

Only strong opposition from Shah Riza is reported to [illegible] from putting these plans into effect. We pointed out to the British that such a step would be met immediately with a Red retaliation in the north.

The Soviet-Iranian treaty of 1920 provided that in the event foreign troops violated Iranian territory, Russia was entitled to send armies into the country. [1921, not 1920] Stalin’s successors have launched the diplomatic offensive aimed at isolation of the United States, the only remaining Western nation powerful enough to block effectively by itself the Kremlin’s drive for world domination. They believe that there can be no threat to their plans if Britain or other Western countries are given some crumbs from the Muscovite table and detached from the American alliance. A partition of Iran between Britain and the USSR would serve among other things to convince the British people that Russia is not selfish and is willing to share with others its gains made at the expense of weaker nations.

The nationalization of the oil fields in southwestern Iran has been a serious blow, not only to the British economic interests but also to Britain’s prestige in the East.

THE RAPID political and economic disintegration of Iran is now expected to be followed by a chaotic situation. It would serve as an excellent excuse for the partition of that country between the USSR and Britain, leaving only a rump state between the two areas with Tehran as the capital.

This perspective may sound crazy to those who think that in his day and age, when the United Nations is supposed to be acting as a kind of mother hen to weaker countries, such a situation could happen.

But it is an unfortunate truth that power politics and power diplomacy still prevail in the world since we have not succeeded in making the United Nations what it was intended to be when its charter was signed at San Francisco eight years ago.

70th Anniversary of TIME’s Man of the Year Article


Related links:

Old Man And Young Man — Stewart Alsop, December 10, 1951

Rich of Egypt, Iran Are Near Tax Troubles — James Marlow (AP), August 14, 1952

Iran Seen U.S. AssetAssociated Press, January 12, 1953

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

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