Oil and Exploitation

August 2, 1951 — The Calgary Herald

The Mossadegh Project | June 5, 2023                

Lead editorial on Iran in The Calgary Herald newspaper (Calgary, Alberta, Canada).

Canadian media archive

Has Persia Had a Change of Heart?

It has been said that the Persian government has a faculty for embarking on a course which leads to national suicide, hanging itself, so to speak, over the precipice by one shoelace, and then blandly changing its mind and carrying on as if nothing had happened. It appears that Persia has now reached the mind-changing point.

Negotiations have reopened with Britain. Richard Stokes, a wealthy British industrialist who is a minister in the Labor government and an acknowledged leader of Socialism’s right wing, is leader of a new cabinet delegation to Tehran. New hopes have been aroused that the whole sorry business of Persian oil can be settled. We trust these hopes are justified.

What seems to have inspired the Persian government to this sharp change of direction was the frank warning conveyed by Averell Harriman, Mr. Truman’s special representative. Mr. Harriman, it is reported, told the Persians that if they persisted with their madness they would find themselves with a nationalized oil industry and no market. Britain would not carry oil away from Persian ports; neither would the United States. Persian oil, in effect, would be boycotted by the Western world, and even though Russia would dearly love to get her hands on these supplies, they cannot be moved to Russia without first constructing an exceedingly costly pipeline through some of the most difficult pipeline country on earth.

Persia’s recent behavior had just about convinced the world that the country was incapable of seeing reason; now, it seems, there is just a faint hope. Meanwhile, far too many people still believe that this was a case of old-fashioned imperialist exploitation, and Britain has been inexcusably slow in stating her side of the case.

Her case, as it turns out, is very strong. Even before nationalization was enacted by the Majlis, Anglo-Iranian had agreed to terms which would have guaranteed royalty and other payments, this year, of not less than $84,000,000, and later offered a straight 50-50 split of all operating revenue. (If the Alberta government could get a deal like this, we could all retire.)

Anglo-Iranian [AIOC] would take all the risks, pay for all the capital equipment, refine the oil, ship it to market, sell it, and then split the profits evenly with the Persian government, which was not required to lift a finger. Furthermore, all oil sold in Persia would be sold for 25 per cent under the world price. If this is exploitation, let us hasten to be exploited on the same scale in Alberta. The imperialists are welcome to move in any time.

Richard Stokes’ Second Thoughts on Iranian Oil (1951 Letter)
Richard Stokes' Letter to Clement Attlee, Aga Khan Concurs (1951)

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Related links:

A Curious Form of ‘Oppression’ | Montreal Gazette, Oct. 6, 1951

Latest Turn of the Whirling Dervish | Calgary Herald, Oct. 17, 1952

President Truman “Most Disappointed” By Suspension of Iran Talks (Aug. 23, 1951)

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

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