Unpardonable Sin
August 31, 1951 — The Maryborough Chronicle

The Mossadegh Project | November 9, 2018                       

This was the lead and sole editorial in The Maryborough Chronicle newspaper (Maryborough, Queensland, Australia).

Persia Could Be Much More Reasonable

It is reported that inexperienced Persian technicians are already in trouble over the maintenance of the former British oilfields in Persia and the running of the Abadan refinery — one of the greatest oil refineries in the world. The Persians — and this applies to their Government, also — are beginning to realise that they have bitten off more than they can chew.

Even the Premier, Dr. Mossadeq, is coming under fire. He is being sharply criticised by some of his political opponents, including the more extreme Nationalists, who have accused him of leading Persia to disaster. These are the very people who, recently, were fanatically ordering him to give no quarter to the “hated British” in his negotiations with representatives of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the British Lord Privy Seal, Mr. Stokes, during the crisis period in the Persian oil dispute. [Richard Stokes]

To-day Dr. Mossadeq apparently has committed an unpardonable sin because the negotiations were broken off, and the Persians themselves have been left high and dry. His critics cannot have it both ways. Persia will either have to adopt a more conciliatory tone or pay the penalty of its own folly and its insensate hatred of Britain. [“hatred”] The Egyptians, too, have adopted a high-handed attitude to Britain in recent times. There is evidently an impression in Cairo and Teheran, though entirely false, that Britain is on the down grade, and, accordingly, is a “sitting shot” for any snipers.

Other countries than Persia and Egypt have sometimes forgotten that Britain can be a good friend in need. The Persian oil crisis is a case in point. The British Government has accepted the principle of Persian nationalisation of the oil industry in that country. The British Government itself believes in that doctrine in application to the coal and steel industries of Britain. [making Iran’s point]

The negotiations, however, broke down on the question of terms and the future technical management of the oil fields and the huge oil refinery at Abadan. The British offer, which included a greatly increased share by Persia of the revenue from Abadan, was regarded by impartial observers as very reasonable. Moreover, it involved a virtual partnership under which Persia would have the direct benefit of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company’s technical staff and the company’s efficient marketing organisation with its special tankers and world-wide ramifications.

That offer was rejected, not because it was unfair, but because anti-British propaganda had influenced the Persian Government and blinded it to its real interests. To that extent, therefore, critics in Persia, themselves annoyed because their hostile propaganda has gone loo far, are now accusing Dr. Mossadeq of “leading Persia to disaster.”

It is true that the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company’s complete evacuation from Abadan and the Persian oil fields will hit Persia very hard. Other sources of oil supply are still available to the outside world. The loss of Abadan — unless the Persian Government adopts a more reasonable attitude — will merely compel foreign oil interests, formerly dependent on Persia, to develop oil resources in other parts of the world.

The loss of outside custom will seriously affect employment in Persia and Persia’s economy as a whole. Before long the repercussions will be felt, probably in growing internal discontent against the Premier of a government that drove Anglo-Iranian oil interests out of the country. Persia will make the inevitable discovery that it cannot carry on such a tremendous project without the aid of skilled British technicians. The Persian Government, if not blinded by its own foolish prejudices, would find it profitable to enter into a partnership with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company which recognised the just interests of both sides.

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Related links:

Persian Oil Blaze | Goulburn Evening Post, June 22, 1951

Persia Is Adamant | The Advocate, September 27, 1951

Twisting the Lion’s tail | The Singleton Argus, May 15, 1953

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

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