Slamming the Door
December 29, 1951 — The Sydney Morning Herald
The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia published this editorial on Dec. 29, 1951.
Mussadiq Digs In His Toes
Any lingering hopes—in Washington if not in London—that Dr. Mussadiq might even at this late stage be brought to see reason must be finally dashed by the Persian Government’s rejection of the International Bank plan for a settlement of the oil dispute. By this move, the Prime Minister has not only slammed the door on his last opportunity of salvaging Persia’s oil industry, but has also put paid to his chances of getting financial aid from America. London’s policy of letting Dr. Mussadiq “stew in his own juice” is likely to find increasing favour in Washington.
One significant factor in the current situation is that Dr. Mussadiq no longer holds the strong bargaining counters he had a few months ago. The yawning gaps in Western oil supplies created by the loss of Persian oil, and, even more important, the loss of the great Abadan refinery’s output, have already been almost closed. The position has now so improved that after the first quarter of 1952 Abadan will be superfluous.
Dr. Mussadiq’s other main blackmail weapon—the restarting of the oil industry with European technicians, and a market behind the Iron Curtain—has also broken in his hand. The Prime Minister may still have hopes of enlisting Western aid by bleating that a bankrupt Treasury will clear the way for a Communist coup. But even the Americans, supersensitive to any such danger, are ceasing to be impressed by this argument.
The danger is by no means illusory, but evidence suggests that it is far from immediate, and that Persia, as in past crises, will be able to “live on its hump” for a considerable period yet. But it will only be at the cost of hardship and loss. The true fanatics, amongst whom Dr. Mussadiq must certainly be numbered, may be content with the glory of driving out foreign influence. But there are growing signs that the conservative oligarchy of Teheran, hit in their most vulnerable quarter, the pocket, are becoming seriously alarmed.
Whether the Parliamentary Opposition is strong enough, united enough, or bold enough to wrest power from the National Front is very doubtful. But, as in Egypt, the direct intervention of the Crown may ultimately change the situation. Dr. Mussadiq’s position is at present strongly based in an aroused nationalist sentiment. As funds run out, however, it is bound to be weakened. Time is no longer on the side of the Persian extremists.