THE NATIONALISATION OF THE ANGLO-IRANIAN OIL COMPANY, AND THE ENDING OF BRITISH PARAMOUNTCY IN THE MIDDLE EAST: A BRITISH DEBACLE, AND THE BIRTH OF BRITISH PETROLEUM COMPANY LTD.

THE NATIONALISATION OF THE ANGLO-IRANIAN OIL COMPANY, AND THE ENDING OF BRITISH PARAMOUNTCY IN THE MIDDLE EAST: A BRITISH DEBACLE, AND THE BIRTH OF BRITISH PETROLEUM COMPANY LTD.

Convalescing from his operation on a cruise between the Greek islands, Eden heard the news of the final result and said, I slept better that night. The London Times saw the cause of Musaddiq’s fall in ‘dissatisfaction at his failure to make even a show of carrying out his promises of social, administrative and economic progress.’ ¹The Spectator reacted by saying about Musaddiq, ‘he rose to power with little but a colourful personality and fanatical determination.’ ²

 

The Lord President, Lord Salisbury, in a brief statement told the Cabinet

there was a reason to believe that, if the military coup d’etat had not succeeded a Communist revolution would have been attempted.³

According to the British Government,

Geographically Persia enjoys a key position in the Middle East. It would be a most serious strategic blow for the free world if she were to fall under Communist domination, particularly because of the increased threat to the other Middle East oil fields which would result.

Her Majesty’s Government, therefore, wish to see a politically stable country free from the danger of Communist domination.4

The Observer wrote, ‘there need no longer be a Persian problem, welcoming the operation of 19th August 1953. On 5th May 1953, Selwyn Lloyd had written to Churchill saying, ‘the department thought it unwise to give him [Musaddiq] another opportunity, particularly now that the Americans and we agreed that Musaddiq is hopeless. ‘6

 

The new government of General Zahedi, soon after coming into office, spoke of Iran’s deep economic problem, and was determined to reach a settlement in the oil issue. In early October 1953, via Washington, contacts between the British Government and the new Iranian Government were re-established. This process went so fast that by 20th October the Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, announced in the House of Commons that the British Government,

wish sincerely to extend once more the hand of friendship. The Persian Government are aware that we are ready to resume diplomatic relations. If this can be done, it will then be easier for us to discuss together the complex problem of Persian oil.7

In reply to the British Foreing Secretary’s announcement, the Iranian Ambassador in Washington on 31th October said,

The Persian Government would like to presume that there is no major difference between the Persian and British governments which could not achieve a solution. The dispute was only with  the AIOC.8

Contacts between London and Teheran from then onwards continued, which led to the official announcement in Teheran, on 5th December 1952, of the resumption of diplomatic relations. On 21st December the new British Charge d’Affaires arrived in Teheran, and the British Embassy was reopened.

    1. 1. The Times, 20th August, 1953, in H. ENAYAT, British Public Opinion and the Persian Oil Crisis from 1951 to 1954, M.Sc. Econ. Thesis, University of London, 1958, p. 166.
    2. 2. The Spectator, 21st August 1953, in ibid, p. 165.
    3. 3. PRO, London, CAB 128/26 pt 2 CC (53) 20th Conclusions, Minute 4, p. 103.
    4. 4. PRO, London, FO 248/ 1543, The General Correspondence of the Foreign Office, the British Embassy and Consular Archive: Iran (Persia), Secret, Memorandum, on British policy towards Persia, p. 1.
    5. 5. The Observer, 8th November 1953 in EVAYAT, op. cit., p. 271.
    6. 6. PRO, London, FO 800/814, The General Correspondence of the Foreign Office, Selwyn-LIoyd to Churchill on Persian Oil, Confidential, 5th May 1953.
    7. 7. L. P. ELWELL-SUTTON, op. cit., p. 314.
    8. 8. Ibid.

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