The Perfidy of Albion
July 7, 1951 — The Courier

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | December 1, 2021                   

Percival Leroy Prattis (1895-1980) Percival Leroy Prattis (1895-1980) was a journalist, reporter, foreign correspondent, and executive editor of the nationally circulated black newspaper The Pittsburgh Courier.

In this 1951 column, Prattis attempted to summarize the background of the oil dispute between Britain and Iran.

July 7, 1951

By P. L. Prattis

British Should Share Oil Profits and Learn to Take Orders in Iran To Ease Tensions

I HOPE I may be excused for having a continuing interest in the Anglo-Iranian oil situation. My interest remains alive because what is taking place in Iran is a prime example of the kind of behaviour on the part of Western nations which has angered the peoples of Asia and Africa, white, black, brown and yellow.

In this case, it is clearly disclosed how the British went into Iran, took control of the oil which belonged to the Iranian people (whether they were using it or not), and paid the Iranians as little as they could for the oil they took out. Furthermore, they set up a little British principality WITHIN IRAN. [Abadan]

I do not know the entire story about British oil dealing in Iran, but some of the things I have read (if half true) show up clearly the perfidy of Albion.

•    •    •

IT SEEMS that about fifty years ago, the British began drilling for oil in Iran and were able to make a deal which left the Iranians almost nothing. By and by, the Iranians caught on and said: “Look, give us a cut on this! After all, it’s OUR OIL!” [Actually, the original agreement was better than the revised one]

The swag of the British was so great that they were ashamed not to kick in — a little bit. So, some years ago, another deal (contract) was signed whereby the Iranians were to be given twenty per cent of the net profits of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. [1933 Agreement]

Of course, the British were slick. They knew that in stipulating net profits, they had left an area for some flexible accounting when time came for the pay-off.

After the passage of several years, it began to dawn upon the Iranians that their twenty per cent did not mean much. Before the net profits were reached, the British had taken almost the whole hog. As one example, it has been brought out that the British Government had been extracting an eighty million dollar annual tax from the company BEFORE net profits.

•    •    •

THE IRANIANS saw that they had been tricked.

What they ask now is that they have the right to own their own oil wells and that if there are any profits, they, the owners, receive 75 per cent, and the British (who own the machinery) receive 25 per cent.

The British are balking and sending battleships around.

There is in Iran a British oil community of about 7,000 souls. Half of these people work at the refineries. They are referred to as technicians. They are the men (and women) who have the know-how for operation of the refineries.

The Iranians say: “When you had a chance, you didn’t help us to learn how to operate this business. You brought in your own people and gave them the lush jobs. So we still have before us the job of learning. But we don’t want you to suffer. We want production kept up. You’ve been operating the wells. Go right ahead. We’ll pay you the same salaries you have been making, for the same work. All we want is production and a proper share of the profits.”

•    •    •

THAT SEEMS fair enough. doesn’t it? But not to the British. They want to quit. They want to create a crisis. Their general manager [Eric Drake] refuses to work for the Iranians (at the same salary). The British workers run away from their jobs. Wives and children are sent home, fearing that the hatred of some Iranians is going to be turned loose against the British. There are persistent reports that the British Government intends to protect its nationals in Iran.

That probably means that the British (if they think they can get away with it) will land troops from the air in Iran. That will start something real big.

The British are missing an opportunity. If they would recognize the rights of Iranians to own their own natural resources (despite British contributions to its development), they would make a convincing demonstration of friendship to the Iranians and win another friend in Asia for the West.

•    •    •

AS IT is, the British are forcing the extremists among the Iranians to look north to the Kremlin.

The British are running the risk, not only of losing oil and a friend, but also of converting the oil and friend to the side of the Communists.

The issue is so simple and clear that it is difficult to understand why the Anglo American combine doesn’t act promptly and positively to meet it.

Journalist Percival Leroy Prattis Condemns U.S.’ Iran Policy (1953)
Journalist Percival Leroy Prattis Denounced US' Iran Policy In 1950's


Related links:

British Kept Iranians From Learning Western Oil Production Methods | June 2, 1951

Britain and Iran | Evening Herald (Shenandoah, PA), June 21, 1951

Pres. 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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