No Royalist Pledge on Iran Oil Problem

August 21, 1953 — The Associated Press

The Mossadegh Project | June 7, 2013                     

This AP column from Friday, August 21, 1953 ponders the next steps in the oil dispute in the midst of the freshly-executed military coup in Iran.


Associated Press News Analyst

AP (The Associated Press) No word has come from Tehran yet, beyond the known friendliness of the Shah toward the West, to indicate that the royalist coup holds any great promise of settlement of the Anglo-Iranian oil dispute.

All the evidence as we know it is that the best way the new regime could kill itself aborning would be for it to display any sign of compromise at this point.

There was some hope in British and American circles that eventually, if Iran’s internal affairs could be improved somewhat, an atmosphere would be created in which there might be a settlement of British claims to compensation for the oil field expropriation. In that event, the Western Powers were disposed to help Iran get her oil back on the market, although it would mean some pretty drastic adjustments in the world oil industry, which has expanded in the last two years to do without it.

There was little or no hope, and no particular desire, for a return of the British to the fields. Anglo-Iranian Oil Company stock went up at the news, presumably on the hope of compensation rather than return. The company long ago turned its full operating interests elsewhere.

The chief interest for the moment lay in whether the victors in Wednesday’s fighting would be able to hold the position they had won, and in so doing halt the slide of Iran into the arms of Russia.

The chief worry lay in the fact that during all of the hubbub nothing has been heard from the Tudeh (Communist) party, which, although technically outlawed, has been described as the most cohesive political force in Iran. It seemed to be lying back, watching for a break.

There was no tendency to underestimate the remaining strength of the forces of ousted Premier Mossadegh, and what might happen if they combined with the Tudeh as they have shown signs of doing in the past, for counterattack.

One of the volatile factors in the situation was Ayatollah Kashani, leader of a fanatical, nationalist and murderous religious sect who has walked first one way and then another to further his own political interests. At different times he has worked both with and against Mossadegh, both with and against the Communists, and for the moment he supports the royalist coup. He would hardly seem a dependable ally.

The new regime seems to have the army and the police. It has heavy support from the northern tribes, traditional foes of communism. But intrigue runs sharply through all elements in Iran, making any lineup look like quicksilver.

None of them look like co-operation with the West, though if the Shah now chooses to use the support which he only just learned he has, some semblance of co-operation might be resumed officially even if it didn’t go very deep among the people.

But even an entirely victorious Shah could not restore the old contractual oil arrangement with Britain. The best anyone can do now is keep Russia out.


Related links:

“Chaos and Bloodshed” Predicted After 1953 Coup | Interpreting the News, August 24, 1953

Fingers Crossed | The Schenectady Gazette, August 11, 1954

U.S. Hopes Fall of Mossadegh Will Mean Stable Rule | August 19, 1953 (UPI)

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

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