Though containment of the Soviet Union and protecting the oil reserves of the Persian Gulf from her reach was a basic American interest, however, in Sir Anthony Eden’s view the United States co-operation, during the Anglo- Iranian Oil Company’s crisis, meant for the United Kingdom to give the Americans a share in Iranian oil, or the new oil consortium of 1954. According to Eden:


The British side had in effect to buy American agreement to come to the rescue of British Petroleum (then the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company) in its struggle with the Musaddiq government.¹


According to Sir Anthony Eden, it was not until he:


proposed American participation in a new oil consortium that the State Department agreed to abandon its tactics of preserving neutrality between Musaddiq and London.²


Eden was of the opinion that the United States’s co-operation during the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company’s crisis led to the United Kingdom having to offer the United States a share in the new oil consortium. He did not want another American involvement in the Suez crisis which may lead to further United States’ influence in the Middle East, as was the case in the aftermath of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. As has been mentioned, Eden, during the Suez crisis, was of the opinion that the United Kingdom’s interests in the MiddleEast were greater than the United States, and that Britain should not be restricted to act by the United States’ reluctance, and should act without their concurrence if necessary.

Following the nationalisation of the Suez Canal by the Egyptian Government in 1956, without consulting the United States, independently Britain proceeded. The United Kingdom, in an Anglo-Franco-Israe1i plan launched an attack on Egypt. Thus the conspiracy with Israel and France was the cloak for military action which in the case of Iran was not present.

The Suez military operation by Britain, France and Israel did not succeed. After the Anglo-French-Israeli attack was launched on Egypt the Americans played a leading role in the United Nations in condemning Britain’s role and the Americans demanded British withdrawal from Egyptian soil.

Eden should have learnt from the nationalisation of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the crisis that followed:   i.e. that Great Britain could not act militarily without the United States’ concurrence. The Suez crisis only underlined that Britain could not act without the assistance of the United States. Whereas the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company’s crisis showed the limited range of action Britain could take. It indicated that the United Kingdom could not act militarily in the Middle East without consultation with the United States.

The Suez crisis has been described (by Anthony Nutting amongst others) as having taught Britain ”no end of a lesson”. Certainly it demonstrated the limitations of British power in the Middle East. But it is arguable that the Iranian crisis – or crises – of 1950-54 had already laid bare the shaky foundations on which British diplomacy, and her capacity for military intervention in support of her diplomatic aims, rested. The British were, at the bottom, confronted with three choices: to acquiesce in the Iranian Government’s policy; to intervene militarily; or to use subterfuge to topple Musaddiq’s

    1. A. EDEN,Full Circle, (London: Cassell, 1960), p. 198.
    2. Ibid, p.202.

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