Eased, But Not Solved

June 29, 1951 — J. C. Oestreicher (INS)

The Mossadegh Project | January 12, 2023                    

Syndicated content by J. C. Oestreicher, International News Service writer and Foreign Director. Oestreicher was the author of The World Is Their Beat (1945), a book about the field of journalism.

In View Of The News

by J. C. Oestreicher
International News Service, Foreign Director

The spectacle of unskilled Iranians coping with what might well be the most complicated set of business books in the world edged its way into the oil nationalization dispute today with a decided softening of Premier Mohammed Mossadegh’s attitude.

Two thousand British clerks, accountants and other office employes of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company walked off their jobs in the huge combine in protest against a law which would have made them liable to death or alleged sabotage in opposing rules of the new nationalized organization.

U.S. Ambassador Henry F. Grady immediately went to see the aged Mossadegh, who obviously was shocked and shaken by the walkout.

He promised without loss of time to drop the sabotage bill and was overjoyed when Grady said he would ask the British government to do what it could to keep the workers on their jobs.

For all its extreme gravity, the Iranian situation, like other international crises of the past, has its grotesque aspects.

The problem of keeping the books obviously is one of them.

A billion dollars is a fair estimate of the money tied up in the Anglo-Iranian company and its operations are probably as complex as can be found anywhere.

The company has both British and Iranian employes, plus many Indians and other Asiatics. Some are paid in pounds, some in rupees, some in Iranian currency and others in denominations of their choice.

The company operates the largest individual fleet of oil tankers that exists.

The officers are British, Scottish, French and of other nationalities. The crews frequently are Chinese and Lascars.

Main headquarters in London have set up an interlocking chain of arrangements with virtually the entire world.

There are agreements with the Arabian Oil Company, with tremendous deposits in Iraq as well as with Saudi Arabia, plus a private deal with the sheikh of Kuweit who by shrewd negotiations obtained for himself royalties estimated at $30 million a year. [Kuwait]

Other major and minor complications include the British government’s position as 53 per cent majority stockholder, the interests of thousands who own shares all over the world and the basic material problems of getting the oil out of the ground, loading it on ships and delivering it to destinations.

The situation in Iran has eased, but it is not solved.

According to best information from Tehran, Mossadegh for all his consuming interest in nationalization of the oil fields, has never been to Abadan, When he first appointed a “take over” commission, the chairman and leading delegate backed out. He offered the excuse that he had been promised single-handed authority and responsibility, a rather formidable assignment for the most brilliant executive imaginable.

Other last minute changes took place before the commission, preceded by zealots who tore down British signs and emblems, took over the administrative offices of Manager Eric Drake and his deputy, A. E. Mason.

It is entirely likely that the commission had just about time to look at the vast amount of clerical work involved—all in the English language and decked around with pounds and pence, francs, florins and guilders—when the Britons left their desks in what appears to have been a highly effective demonstration. The paper work piled up immediately. The situation in Iran has eased, but it is not solved.

Mossadegh insists that the AIOC no longer exists as such, that it is a nationalized company and that no one but Iran is qualified to sell Persian oil.

Britain has made her position clear. She has no objection to “some form” of nationalization, but holds that Britain must have a place in the administration of the fields, control the shipments and parcel out Iran’s royalties on a business-like basis.

As Defense Minister Emanuel Shinwell said: “We British have made our decision and we British don’t give up easily.”

The most that can be said is that the Iranians have begun to make concessions. It is at least a beginning.

What Went Wrong in Iran? | Amb. Henry Grady Tells All (1952)
What Went Wrong in Iran? | Saturday Evening Post, Jan. 5, 1952

Search MohammadMossadegh.com

Related links:

Premier Mossadegh Gives Views to INS In Questionnaire | INS, Sept. 9, 1952

Anglo-Iranian Oil Company | Annual Meeting: December 20, 1951

Sweeping Victory Is Seen for Premier At Polls Tuesday | INS, Dec. 2, 1951

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

Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Tumblr   Instagram