Last Stand in Abadan
September 28, 1951 — The Mercury

The Mossadegh Project | October 17, 2020                   

Lead editorial reacting to the expulsion of British AIOC workers from Iran in The Mercury newspaper (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia).

Australian media archive


PERSIA’S expulsion order against the remaining British oil employees at Abadan confronts Britain with her most difficult decision since the dispute began. The Government is pledged to keep a foothold in Abadan, and to protect British lives and property. But the use of force to carry out its commitment would be a grave step, and one which might have far-reaching consequences.

If Britain decides to land troops a hostile reaction is certain, not only in Persia, but throughout the Middle East and farther afield. Embarrassing protests would be made to the United Nations, and there is a possibility that the Russians might seize on the excuse to march into Persia from the north, though it seems unlikely that they are in the mood to risk war.

On the other hand the British Government is entitled to prevent the Persians from further compromising its rights as established by the International Court, which placed equal responsibility on the two sides to preserve the status quo.

Moreover, if Britain allowed herself to be pushed out of Abadan she would have no cards left to play in the oil dispute. The repercussions of such a humiliating defeat would be incalculable. In the circumstances Britain has no real alternative but to take a strong stand.

A serious feature of the new development is its possible effect on America, which so far has opposed the use of force, largely because of fear that Russia might intervene. The Americans, though they are not directly involved in the dispute, can argue that the West’s greatest interest in Persia is strategic, and that her independence must be preserved.

It would be a calamity if irresponsible Persian extremists succeeded where the Russians have failed, and drove a wedge between the Allies. There should be sufficient statesmanship on both sides of the Atlantic to prevent an open breach but the latest crisis could easily cause a temporary cooling of relations.

Vernon Walters Amuses Crowd With Mossadegh Stories (1974)


Related links:

Oil To Flow Again | The Mercury, July 20, 1954

Persia—Pushing Or Being Pushed? | The Recorder, Sept. 14, 1951

Crisis looms in Persia | The News (Adelaide), September 28, 1951

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

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