Oil, Iran and the Bear
May 1951 letters — Newcastle Morning Herald

The Mossadegh Project | April 27, 2021                           

Conspiratorial and unfounded, these Letters to the Editor on Iran ran in The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate newspaper of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Newcastle was the site of the world’s largest port for the export of coal.

Australian media archive

The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia)

May 5, 1951

Persian Oilfields

BECAUSE Soviet Russia realises that events in the Far East are not working out as the Cominform anticipated, she realises that Communists cannot win in Korea without her becoming involved in a third world war. That is an event for which she is not yet ready and a risk she is not prepared to lake. Thus she tries to stir up trouble elsewhere—the latest development in Persia.

Persia was essentially an agricultural country with 65 per cent. of her people depending for their living on the cultivation of the toil. The discovery of vast quantities of petrol changed all that. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company has an oil concession over an area of 109,000 square miles in South West Persia that is valid till 1993. Soviet Russia has long had an eye on Persia. This was intensified in 1921 — only four years after the Russian revolution — when the Soviet persuaded Persia to sign what is known as the Soviet-Persian Treaty, under which, should foreign troops enter Persia, Russia had the right to intervene by sending troops to aid Persia. This treaty looked harmless then, but its cunningness is being revealed in the light of events to-day.

Under the Anglo-Soviet-Persian Treaty of Alliance of 1942, the independence and integrity of Persia were guaranteed by the United Kingdom and Russia. Her integrity and independence were further guaranteed in a declaration signed by Mr. Churchill, President Roosevelt and Marshal Stalin at the Teheran Conference. At the close of World War II., British and American troops were withdrawn from Persia, but Soviet troops remained there for a long time till the Persian Government appealed to the Security Council of the United Nations. Under instructions from that council, Soviet troops were withdrawn. In that period of occupation, the Russian Communist agents had been busy in Persia, with the result that a Tudeh Nationalist Party, which is really a Communist Party, came into being. Later, this party was officially suppressed because a young Communist tried to assassinate the Shah. Unfortunately, the Persian Government has not been strong enough to deal effectively with this Communist element, which has gained ground under the guise of nationalism. These Persian Communists have now seized upon a movement to nationalise the oil wells as too good an opportunity to miss to stir up strife and get rid of all foreign interests in the oilfields.

Strangely enough, the Shah of Persia recently announced he may be compelled to leave the country on medical grounds. There are many who are inclined to think that those medical grounds were instructions from Russia. From these facts, the cunningness of the Soviet move in shifting the trouble centre from Korea to Persia is seen. In this case, the scene of the conflict would be much nearer home for Russia. She would be acting under the cloak of her 1921 treaty rights. It is a delicate and dangerous situation, under which anything can happen.


May 9, 1951

Persian Oil

MARGARET Stephens ("N.M.H." 5/5/‘51) makes a marvellous mixture of her own angle on the Persian question and Persian history. Oil was discovered in Persia soon after the Russians marched in from the north. The Americans and English took over their “sphere of influence” in the south. Persia, a small country with no military potential, was invaded by three big powers, but the people were unable to defend their inheritance.

Can one accept that this action is forgotten by the Persian people? Many thousands are still alive who can remember the desecration of the homeland; many thousands will have passed tie story on to their children. A scrap of paper means nothing to the invading powers. Their sole aim was to gain the wealth discovered on Persian soil. Neither the peasants nor their holdings, where generations had farmed, were considered. All were taken while the people had either to starve or become employees of the mushroom companies which had sprung up overnight.

At the same time, European historians were weeping over the chaos caused by the partitioning of Poland in the 17th century, while the partitioning of Persia was a far greater and more recent crime. Under the U.N. Charter, these people have a right to their own land. Are we going to deny them that right? Or what is the solution of the problem? No bogey will solve it. Every citizen must analyse it and know history before he or she can assist in reconstructing the world under the U.N. Charter.


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

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Related links:

Bleak Outlook In Persia | Newcastle Morning Herald, May 5, 1951

Iranian Oil Crisis Closely Linked to Europe’s War Materials Scramble (1951 letter)

Abadan And Australia | Sydney Morning Herald (Oct. 8, 1951 letter)

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

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