December 15, 2013


Iran's long distrust of the 'Old Fox' Britain (Con Coughlin, 14 Dec 2013, The Telegraph)

[B]ritain's first direct involvement in Iranian affairs during the modern era can be traced back to 1813 and the Treaty of Gulistan, under which Persia was forced to concede territory to Russia. The treaty was put together by British diplomat Sir Gore Ouseley and is regarded in Iran as a humiliation.

It was by this treaty that the myth - or reality - of the devious British was established.

Britain was also instrumental in setting Iran's borders with India in the 1860s.

Then in the 1920s, British forces in Iran under General Edmund Ironside (later British land forces commander in the Second World War after Dunkirk) helped put Reza Shah on the Peacock throne. His son was Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah overthrown in the Islamic revolution of 1979.

But the event that ultimately decided the fractious nature of Anglo-Iranian relations, which has lasted until the modern day, was the direct involvement of British intelligence in the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadeq, the country's first democratically-elected prime minister, in 1953. As in the early 19th century, the primary motivation for Britain's supposedly clandestine intervention in Iran's internal affairs was to prevent Tehran from falling under Russian influence, especially as this was the height of the Cold War and the restless Soviets were forever looking for new territories to dominate.

Though the operation achieved its goal, it laid the foundations for decades of Iranian mistrust, particularly as British intelligence officers continued to maintain close links with SAVAK, the brutal intelligence service operated by the Shah, whose survival in office owed much to the backing of his British and American backers.

The fact that scores of former SAVAK officers found their way into the new Iranian intelligence service created by the ayatollahs following the 1979 Iranian revolution, meant that the new regime founded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was left in no doubt about the perfidious activities of the British.

Hence, while the ayatollahs have demonised the US as the Great Satan for its refusal to accept the uncompromising tenets of the Iranian revolution, Britain - along with Israel - is regarded as Little Satan because of its slavish support for American policy, as well as its long history of meddling in Iranian affairs.

Everyone trying to understand Iran should read My Uncle Napoleon.

Posted by at December 15, 2013 8:32 AM

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