Out On A Limb

October 3, 1951 — The Day

The Mossadegh Project | December 4, 2015                  

The Day newspaper of New London, Connecticut (estab. 1881), ran this as their lead editorial after the British evacuated Abadan.

Breathing Spell

The sudden decision of the British Labor government to withdraw British personnel from the Abadan oil refinery eases the tension between Iran and England over the Iranian nationalization of her oil industry. Just when the situation had reached its most explosive stage, the British have, in effect, yielded to the judgment of impartial observers.

The only course remaining open, had the British firmly refused to remove their nationals from the huge Abadan refinery, was military action. Weeks ago the English dispatched naval and paratroop units to areas relatively close to Iran, with the obvious purpose of raising a threat.

But Iran—in the person of fiery Premier Mohammed Mossadegh—would not yield, and Iranian nationalism seemed to flare ever brighter. Mediation attempts were futile, and the situation tottered on the edge of a major disaster. Lurking hungrily in the background were the Russian Communists with a greedy eye on the highly productive Iranian oil wells.

A British plea to the United Nations security council to arbitrate that dispute was followed within a couple of days by the decision to get the 300 or more British subjects out of harm’s way, and to ferry them back to England. Thus England has virtually forfeited any hopes of ever again controlling Iran’s oil, or even a significant part of it. [not very prophetic]

Unfortunately, the final British action cannot be wholly attributed to humanitarian considerations. Playing a large part in the decision to back down was the current domestic turmoil in British political circles. The Labor government, which in only a little more than three weeks will have to make a bid for life, already has amassed enough vulnerable spots. The creation of an untenable situation in regard to the Iranian oil would have been the final straw, and so, just as the creaking limb was about to snap, British Laborites retreated to the safety of the tree.

Many questions yet remain to be resolved, for the British move does not bestow stability on Iran, but merely removes the intolerable pressure of the moment. A potential powder keg still smoulders in the Middle East, and it will bear careful watching.

Truman and Mossadegh’s First Messages on Iran Oil Dispute (1951)
President Truman and Premier Mossadegh's First Messages on Iran Oil Dispute (1951)

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Related links:

Soviet Whets Knife for Iran Waif in U.N. | The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 2, 1951

Appeal To Reason | Amsterdam Evening Recorder, Sept. 6, 1952

An Ultimatum | Oakland Tribune, October 3, 1952

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

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