October 5, 1951 — The WORLD This WEEK

The Mossadegh Project | October 8, 2014                   

While Mossadegh was set to arrive in America, The WORLD This WEEK, a syndicated package of news and editorial content seen in U.S. newspapers nationwide, provided a concise recap of the “dangerous British-Iranian dispute” thus far.

IRAN: Middle-East Powder Keg

PREMIER MOHAMMED MOSSADEGH of Iran is a dramatic little man who spends a lot of time in pink pajamas and frequently holds state conferences at his bedside.

The announcement that he would appear before the U.N. Security Council in New York to present his country’s case in the Anglo-Iranian oil dispute seemed to fit in well with his flair for theatrics.

The British failed to appreciate these characteristics of the frail, nationalistic premier. They clearly wanted to take strong action when Mossadegh ordered the last remaining British oil technicians to leave the great Abadan refinery. With a general election looming in Britain October 25, any vacillation by the Labor Government in the crisis could be construed by the Conservatives as weakness—and turned into more political ammunition.

Prime Minister Attlee’s [Clement Attlee] decision to quit Iran reversed his promise to the House of Commons last July that it was not the intention of his government to withdraw entirely. At that time, Conservative chief Winston Churchill had warned against any such evacuation.

Uncertainties Balk British

The British, however, could not proceed in the face of what they called “uncertainties of the situation.” One big uncertainty was the official U.S. attitude. The United States, after receiving an appeal from Prime Minister Attlee, advised moderation. The U.S. wanted to be in the middle in order to arbitrate effectively the crisis, and that’s where she stood. Britain, “as a matter of principle,” took the Iranian case to the U.N., although it was fairly certain that final action in the fracas by the U.N. would be blocked by a Soviet veto.

British resolutions calling on Iran to abide by the International Court of Justice’s ruling—rejected in Tehran—that the status quo be maintained for the time being, and asking that Iran cancel the order to British technicians to leave Abadan were put before the Security Council by Sir Gladwyn Jebb.

Russians Object

The Russians, as expected, raised objections and claimed the Council had no jurisdiction. In a surprise move, Yugoslavia supported the Russian objection. The Security Council overrode both of them and decided to take up the dispute. It looked for a short while as though Britain had won the first round, but she was out-maneuvered when Iran got the Security Council to agree to a 10-day postponement of the debate.

While Jebb delivered a blistering attack on Iran and called for action to protect Britain’s stake in the rich Iranian oil industry, Iran’s permanent U.N. delegate, Ambassador Ali Gholi Ardalan, sat quietly at the Council’s big horseshoe table. Then he announced he had no power to take part in the debate and said his government would need 10 days to get a “high ranking” representative to New York.

Warship Patrol Maintained

In London, a foreign office explanation indicated that the withdrawal of British technicians from Abadan was considered a temporary measure, but officials of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company have always felt that once the British were out of Iran it would be almost impossible, politically, for any Iranian Government to invite them back.

Britain still planned to maintain 10 warships in Iraqui waters. [Iraqi] They could enforce a sort of blockade to prevent Iran from shipping oil to other costumers. [sic—customers]

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Related links:

Meeting With Mossadegh at Walter Reed Hospital | Oct. 24, 1951

“Iran Problem” Now Is To Keep Her On Our Side — Bruce Biossat, October 9, 1951

Mossadegh Pays a CallThe WORLD This WEEK, October 13, 1951

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

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