Three Out of Four Ainít Bad

October 2, 1951 — The Evening Citizen

The Mossadegh Project | February 2, 2023                      

Lead editorial in The Evening Citizen newspaper of Ottawa, Canada.

Stalemate In Iran

Britainís decision to surrender to Iranís ultimatum requiring the withdrawal of Anglo-Iranian Oil Company technicians from Abadan by Thursday was the only alternative to the use of military force against Iran. Since the beginning of the oil nationalization quarrel, Britain has properly eschewed armed force as an instrument of policy. Now Iran has possession of its own oil, as well as of the refining capacity built up by the British. But Iran has no technicians, tankers and customers. On the other hand, Britain has all three, but no Iranian oil. The stalemate constitutes as senseless a situation as any experienced in this century.

The International Court at The Hague has upheld British property rights in Iran. [World Court] Although Iran does not recognize this judgment, many of its potential customers would not wish to become involved in international legal suits brought by Britain, should they buy Iranian oil. Moreover, the only available tankers are owned by British and American firms. These have indicated they will refuse to transport Iranian oil, even if Iran could find the foreign technicians to refine it. The final choice left to Iran, that of finding a market in Russia, is unpalatable. If Russia agreed to build the necessary tankers and then became the only outlet for Iranian oil, the Soviet Union would become a major prop under the Iranian economy. The political control by Russia that must accompany such a development is implicit.

For several weighty reasons, the British government would not use military measures to enforce its rights in Iran. Except for a few Conservatives seeking to make political capital out of the crisis, responsible opinion in the United Kingdom opposed the use of force. Besides, had force been used Britain would have offended the United States. Only last week, President Truman appealed to Britain not to employ troops to settle the dispute. Finally, under a 1921 treaty, the Soviet Union has the right to intervene should Iran be occupied by a foreign power. Thus the use of British force might have touched off a general war, and no amount of oil is worth that.

Basing its appeal on the International Courtís ruling, Britain has placed its case before the United Nations Security Council. Yet it is doubtful whether a decision of the Security Council (if one could be reached over a Russian veto) would at this stage affect the situation any more than has the International Courtís opinion. A willingness by both Britain and Iran to share as equal partners the burdens, and profits, of producing and selling Iranian oil is needed. Britain has shown such a willingness, and in August made a specific partnership offer. Iran is still unwilling. The hard economic facts that must accompany the drying up of Iranís oil revenue may revive in that country a capacity for facing realities and for applying sense to the solution of its oil problems.

The 1953 Coup in Iran Was An Act of War | by Arash Norouzi
The 1953 Coup in Iran Was An Act of War | by Arash Norouzi


Related links:

Returned ó And With Thanks | Montreal Gazette, Oct. 25, 1952

Statement on AIOC Mission to Iran | House of Lords, June 20, 1951

Dry Those Big Tears, Mr. Mossadegh | Calgary Herald, June 1951

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — ďIf I sit silently, I have sinnedĒ

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