Suicide Still Popular
November 3, 1953 — The Sydney Morning Herald

The Mossadegh Project | September 30, 2019                            

U.S.-Iranian relations were broken in 1952 when Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh was in office. They were restored under the coup government on December 5, 1953, about a month after this Australian newspaper editorial was published.

Persia Looks To The West

Hopes that the overthrow of Dr. Mussadiq would result in improved relations between Persia and the West seem likely to be justified. Teheran’s conciliatory reply to Mr. Eden’s overture [British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden] was in encouraging contrast to the previous Government’s intransigent attitude, and indicated that General Zahedi’s foreign policy [Premier Fazlollah Zahedi] is more realistic than his predecessor’s. Persia, in fact, bankrupted by Dr. Mussadiq’s great oil gamble, dependent for internal stability on an Army which has to be paid, and fearful of Russian influence and ambitions, needs Western help desperately, and knows that its price is a reasonable settlement of the oil question.

General Zahedi’s difficulty is that Dr. Mussadiq’s suicidal oil policy was generally popular. Even when publicly revealing the disastrous results of nationalisation and announcing its intention of “taking efficient steps” to exploit the oil industry, the new Government felt constrained to express appreciation of “the pure and valuable sentiments of the brave Persian nation, which has made all kinds of sacrifices to maintain its rights.” [Iranian press statement, Sept. 29, 1953]

Any modification of the Mussadiq policy in the direction of a compromise settlement with the Anglo-Iranian Company has, therefore, to be approached very cautiously. General Zahedi’s position is not so secure that he can afford to risk antagonising popular opinion, and the recent riots in the capital show that he has determined enemies ready to take advantage of any opening. His search is patently for a “face-saving” formula, and it is to the West’s interest to help him find it.

For while Persia no longer has her old economic value to the West, and while the reopening of the Persian oil flow would now be an embarrassment rather than a benefit to the world market, Persia’s political and strategic importance has in no way diminished. To maintain Persia’s independence and protect her from Soviet ambitions must remain a prime aim of Anglo-American policy. The projection of Communist power to the Persian Gulf would be a major strategic disaster. The stability of the Persian economy, which depends on the oil industry, is consequently a matter of hardly less concern to the West than to General Zahedi.


Related links:

Oil From Persia | The Mercury (Australia), November 1, 1954

Ali Amini’s Statement on the Iran Oil Consortium Deal | August 5, 1954

Mussadiq Digs In His Toes | The Sydney Morning Herald, Dec. 29, 1951

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

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