Prospects in Iran

September 1, 1951 — U.S. Editorial

The Mossadegh Project | August 4, 2020                    

This ran in the editorial section of various U.S. newspapers, though it was more of a news roundup piece compiling the views of various editors.

Editors’ Roundtable

Editors Foresee Iranian-British
Oil Agreement

Editors in a substantial plurality remain hopeful that Iran, needing oil revenue and seeing the danger of possible Russian intervention, will agree to a reasonable settlement with Britain on nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. But to a large minority of editors the influence of anti-British Iranian nationalists, agitated by Communists, permits little hope of any settlement soon enough to save Iran from chaos and possible involvement in a new world crisis between Russia and the West.

A smaller minority of editors sees little, in all the factors involved, to indicate at all clearly now what may happen in Iran.

New York Times (Ind.-Dem.): “There have been few developments in recent months more serious than the breakdown of the Iranian oil negotiations. ... If, contrary to all indications and expectations, some last-minute miracle saves this vital industry from collapse and Iran herself from ruin, there will be great rejoicing everywhere outside the Communist ranks. . . . Iran was producing nearly one-fifth of the entire world output of oil, of which more than half went to the Mediterranean countries and Western Europe. India, Pakistan, South Africa and other countries east of Suez depended on Iran for motor fuel.”

Providence Journal (Ind.): [Rhode Island] “Hard facts will now have the opportunity to make themselves felt. There is not enough professional skill among the Iranians to manage, direct and operate the giant plants. The Iranian treasury is dependent upon taxes and commissions from the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.. The depleted treasury can produce two results. It can bring the Iranians to their senses. ... Or it can bring about a state of political chaos. ... It is with the hope that the Iranians will come to reason that the negotiators have concluded their talks.”

Birmingham News (Ind.-Dem.): [Alabama] “The situation has broken down apparently over the same basic factor which originally caused the dispute. That is, Iran’s determination to get more than about half of the profits from the oil resources brought up out of her arid earth. . . . Certainly Iran is in need of money, but from the first financial considerations have been secondary to a hot determination to show the British that Iranians are boss in Iran. Any approach which doesn’t fully recognize this intent is likely to result in ... no settlement.”

Ledger-Dispatch (Ind.-Dem.): [Norfolk, VA] “The British insist on a 50-50 division of the profits, and this Premier Mossadegh has never accepted. But what seems to have brought about the breakdown is his unwillingness to concede that a single British manager shall direct the oil operations. He wants an Iranian or two to complicate the management structure, even though his government, as owner, would control the assets. What he has done is insist on the letter of the nationalization law . . . One can only hope that the talks will resume when Tehran feels the full effect of its self-scourging unrealism in this dispute.”

Miami Daily News (Dem.): [Florida] “Fanatical nationalist sentiments in Iran, continuously agitated by the Communist Tudeh party, have placed Mossadegh on a spot in which any appearance of compromise would be unacceptable. . . . The officially announced British position is to remain in Abadan until Iran permits oil production to resume. In order to protect its nationals there, Britain promises necessary measures implying armed intervention. This would be an excuse for Russia (under an old treaty with Iran) to move into the area in the alleged interest of protecting its own frontier on the Northern Iranian border.”

St. Paul Dispatch (Ind.): [Minnesota] “The Kremlin has touched off a call for a militant peoples front in Iran which would direct the national liberation movement in Iran into the proper channels, so that it can fulfill its social-historic task. That task is, of course, to bring Iran into the Communist sphere. Should the Soviets stir up new trouble in Iran, only prompt action by the British would save the Western-built oil fields from falling into Russian hands. The Iranian government should be able to see the outcome would put Iran in the position of becoming the center of a new world crisis, and accept a reasonable compromise.”

Dayton News (Ind.-Dem.): [Ohio] “There is every reason to believe that Mossadegh would be willing to make a reasonable settlement with the British. . . . But the force that controls in Iran is the force of the anti-British extremists, who threaten mob revolt and who dangle the sword of assassination over every government official who gives sign of weakness. There seems to be little hope that the situation will change in the foreseeable future. British troops could be sent in to support the government but that might touch off immediate war with Russia, with most of the Iranians on the side of Russia.”

Newspapers that published this editorial included:

The North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Massachusetts) — September 1, 1951 (Hopes Remain That Iran May Settle Oil Dispute)
The Monroe Morning World (Monroe, Louisiana) — Sept. 2, 1951 (PROSPECTS IN IRAN)
The Baytown Sun (Baytown, Texas) — September 3, 1951
The Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas) — September 3, 1951 (Prospects in Iran)
The Santa Maria Times (Santa Maria, California) — September 6, 1951 (lead editorial: Editors Foresee Iranian-British Oil Agreement)


Related links:

Mossadegh’s Bad Gamble | The Dixon Evening Telegraph, October 23, 1952

What Went Wrong in Iran? | The Saturday Evening Post, January 5, 1952

Loss of Iranian Oil is U.S. Diplomatic Flop | Ray Tucker, October 11, 1951

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

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