What Realities Made Britain Think about Apologizing to Iran?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Amir Hossein Yazdanpanah
Expert on International Issues

It took the British politicians 61 years before they remembered that they owe an apology to Iran. Since the military coup d’état that was staged against the then Iranian prime minister on August 19, 1953, up to the present time, a host of official documents have been released which have proved the part played by Britain in providing ground for the coup. The last of those documents was released a few weeks ago. Now, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons has published a report noting that the British government should officially apologize to Iranian government for the role it played in staging the coup d’état of August 19, 1953, in Iran. Last fall, Jack Straw, a former British foreign secretary clearly noted that the August 19 coup was interference in the internal affairs of Iran.

It should be noted that this development, namely, the fact that the British politicians have officially owned up to the consequences of one of their plots against Iran and have admitted that their country had interfered in the internal affairs of Iran by toppling the legal government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq through coup d’état and should now apologize for it, is per se, a positive development. The question, however, is why the British government has made this decision at the present time, that is, 61 years after it has been proved beyond any doubt that Robert Charles Zaehner, a former member of the British intelligence service, had been a major protagonist behind August 19 coup d’état in Iran?  Of course, the historical memory of the Iranian people will never forget many instances, including the role played by Britain in the assassination of Amir Kabir [an Iranian prime minister under the Qajar king, Nassereddin Shah], London’s role in developments related to the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry; Britain’s involvement in the August 19 coup and restoration of Mohammad Reza Shah, the former king of Iran, to power; Britain’s support for former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, during his eight-year war against Iran; and London’s effective role in intensification of international sanctions against Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program in line with the United States policy. However, the recent report published by the British parliament should be considered from two major viewpoints.

The first noteworthy point about the report is the emphasis put by the British parliament on the importance of having relations with Iran. For example, take this part of the report into account, “The lack of full diplomatic representation in Iran hinders the UK's ability to shape events, gather information, and reassure its regional allies that it could make fully informed assessments of Iranian opinion and intentions. ” Iran is a stable country in a region where all countries around Iran are by no means suitable and secure for investment. The country is located in West Asia and due to its high population, is one of the most important consumer markets in the world. As a result and due to proximity to major consumer markets, any investment in the country can become rapidly profitable. Apart from this issue, having diplomatic representation in Iran will enable the British politicians to have more real information on what is actually going on in this sensitive part of the world. This part, that is, gathering information, may be even more important to the British government than the first part, which is trade and economic cooperation with the Islamic Republic.

The second, and of course more important point about the report prepared by deputies of the British parliament has been embedded in another paragraph where it says, “‘the prolonged period of silence between the UK and Iran has resulted in the UK being less visible in the country’ and that as a result, other countries ‘are now looked at as better choice partners in international relations’.” In reality, even George Curzon, who had extensive plans for the division of Iran between Russia and Britain in early years of the 20th century, was also afraid of this issue. He was afraid the day would come when other countries would take advantage of Iran. It was for this reason that he drew up the 1919 contract according to which British advisors took control of all civil, military and financial affairs of Iran after the deal was signed by then Iranian prime minister, Vosough-od-Dowleh. The situation, however, is totally different now. In those days and through telegrams that traveled among Delhi, Tehran and London, British politicians expressed concern about possible influence of Russia in Iran and sought to pave the way for their own country to sway influence over the Iranian government. Now, the existing conditions have forced them to make a new decision in the face of a new and powerful Iran in the region. This issue had been also mentioned in the annual strategy of the European Union toward Iran, which was published about three months ago. In that document, the 28-nation bloc clearly owned up to the regional power of Iran and specified that its strategy toward Iran is “independent” of other partners. The British politicians are well aware that the strategic position and increasing regional power of Iran in West Asia cannot be easily ignored. On the other hand, the fragile structure of power in other regional countries has forced Britain to choose a stable political system as its regional partner. This is true as they have correctly understood the determining role that Iran played in developments of Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade and the role it is currently playing in new developments of Iraq and Syria.

When the former British foreign secretary, William Hague, suddenly stepped down a few days ago and gave his place to the former defense secretary, Philip Hammond, some politicians of the Labor Party were taken by surprise. They believed that Hague was not supposed to change in the foreseeable future. However, when the aforesaid developments and the recent report by the British parliament are taken into account as a collection, it becomes clear that Britain has chosen a military man as his new foreign secretary; a man who has extensively studied various regional powers in West Asia for long years, has been relying on real information, is well versed about the situation in the region, and is also well aware of the power of Iran. They have interests in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf and naturally, it would not be a favorable situation for Britain to have weak or undermined relations with a powerful country in this region. Apologizing to Iran will be very costly for the British government, of course, if it goes beyond paperwork and takes place in practice. However, in return for paying that high cost, they will have the opportunity to attract Iran's attention and such an opportunity is valuable enough to encourage them undertake that high cost.

Key Words: Britain, Apologizing to Iran, British House of Commons, Coup d’état of August 19, 1953, Mohammad Mosaddeq, Lack of Diplomatic Representation, European Union, Persian Gulf, Yazdanpanah

Source: Khorasan Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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