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Interview with Doctor Enaytallh Reza: Soviet Union Alignment with Great Britain in Opposition to National Movement of Iran

I believe that oil issue was a political matter from the beginning. The long-standing rivalry between Russia and Britain in Iran made people to consider oil as a political issue. Subsequent flows exacerbated the political aspect of the issue. Oil became a political phenomenon in 1932 and 1933...

By: M. Rasoulipour

 

□ In the years after World War II with the new blocking between the great powers, oil and restoration of rights were considered as a special political significance for Iranian politicians and became the pretext for the Iranian independence and getting out from British colonial rule. Please explain more about this case.

I believe that oil issue was a political matter from the beginning. The long-standing rivalry between Russia and Britain in Iran made people to consider oil as a political issue. Subsequent flows exacerbated the political aspect of the issue. Oil became a political phenomenon in 1932 and 1933 and oil contract extension thread also during World War II and the years thereafter. In the event of Azerbaijan, Iran could lead to degradation due to oil issues. Thus, separation of oil into either political or economic phenomenon is not right. But these two were mixed together. The two-emergent plan of doctor Mossadegh in the Fourteenth Parliament about franchising ban on foreign oil as well as the single article layout of Gholam Hossien Rahimiyan’s cancellation of unilateral contract of southern oil were political phenomenon.

 America had a major role in the Allied victory in World War II, because it helped Europeans to create a second front to deal with Germany. With the opening of the front which was Soviet Union, the U.S. position was promoted by the day. Aside from the fact that during the war, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki provided a specific situation, but it can be seen from post-war that with Marshall Plan situation would be in some other way. The pressure of public opinion as well as the United States efforts led Britain to withdraw from its colonies such as India; thus many countries were released from colonies and became independent which I'm not going into this discussion. The other issue was to save Europe from the destruction of war and Marshall Plan as well as American assistance led to Europe being revived. And because England was no exception and needed the American assistance, in addition to the loss of its colonies had to being close to the U.S. I believe that approaching to the U.S. was a rational approach for its own survival. 

 Another important issue was the subject of energy. U.S. was relied on just its energy and oil and the Middle East oil was in British hands. Certainly, Americans understood that the world's oil reserves are limited and more resources should be brought from Middle East. At the time, Saudi Arabia and Iraq did not have a clear situation in terms of oil resources and Iran was in the superior position. The Soviet Union used its own resources but the extraction of domestic resources was not enough for it because its oil resources had been damaged and exploitation of the Baku oil extraction was limited. There was an amount of oil in Siberia which was not enough for extraction and yet needed new energy sources. Due to changes that were found after the war in the status of India, the Soviet Union was possible to influence the Indian Ocean and decided to be close to India. After World War II, the Allies were going to leave Iranian territory, Soviet forces forced to leave Iran after pressure from the UN and the U.S. But they were supporting the dependent forces in Azerbaijan. However, as you know, The Soviet provided withdrawal from Iran and Azerbaijan issues by getting the oil concession in northern Iran; which finally they failed and the Fifteenth Assembly abolished the privilege. The Soviets found that America is the main challenger and was able to reinforce Europe and unite the continent with itself. Another rival of Soviet was China that had socialist revolution in appearance but in interior claimed the Siberian lands and it still remains on the claim. Another issue that separate Soviet Union from the U.S. and Europe it was that immediately after the war declared that won’t return back the aids which assistance during the war and thus isolated itself in that situation. Hence, the Marshall Plan was not considered the country.

 

□ After more than fifty years of oil nationalization, still some people consider the policy of Doctor Mossadegh from contrast between the powers and his approach to U.S. as an unrealistic policy. What is your opinion about this?

My understanding is that after the nationalization of the oil industry, Doctor Mossadegh initially wanted to cut British hands of Iran's oil reserves in the situation. As a politician, he needed American assistance and perhaps he wanted to use the U.S for his own advantage. Of course, I can’t judge in this case; but apparently he wanted to take the advantages of circumstances for Iran and he used oil nationalization as a mean to mobilize the community and to achieve national independence. Now, what specifications and features being practical with the purpose of intend is another matter.

 

□ Please tell us more about the Soviet Union and Tudeh Party policies against Mossadegh's government and please let us know that why the government was consistent with the oil embargo against Iran by England?

Soviet was shown its intense enemy after the defeat of Soviet by Ghavam Al-Saltaneh about Azerbaijan issues. At the time, Tudeh Party had issued instructions to its staff. One of the instructions was clearly written that the attack must be focus on Mossadegh. For me, the question was why Tudeh Party acted like this? Some people like Kianouri knew exactly what they were doing. Others were opposed perhaps because they were unaware. Later it became clear to me when I got more about Soviet policy. On the 19th Congress of Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Stalin declared their overall global strategy. He explicitly said: “long time ago Bourgeoisie had he national flag of fighting. Now the flag is on ground and only the working class can take the flag from the ground”. By utterance of these words, Stalin cleared the duties of working class in the world national bourgeoisie in the colonial and dependent countries. After this incident – a year before Mossadegh’s fall and before Stalin’s death- communist parties in India, Indonesia, Iran and other countries were placed in a path that Stalin wished. As a result, Communist parties in these countries began their actions against Nehru, Sukarno and Mossadegh. When England and oil companies were passed sanctions and blockade against buying oil from Iran; so the Soviet Union was no longer willing to buy oil from Iran. As far as I know, Mossadegh had said that Hungary and Czechoslovakia and other Eastern European countries were our oil customer; why are you blocking them. Soviet authorities had responded to him that we do not need your oil anymore. Hence, Mossadegh asked the Soviets to return back the demanded eleven tons of gold during World War II. The answer was that the gold belongs to the Iranian nation and will grant to a government which be a true representation of the people. I read this article in Soviet Union’s newspapers while I was there.

 Another example is that, I remember the Azerbaijan Democratic Party was active in the Soviet Union during Mossadegh’s government. They had a radio which aired policies and programs against Mossadegh’s government and Iran. I read articles that would air on radio. I truly was not aware of the activities of the Tudeh Party in Iran and our relationship with Iran was not really clear, however, this issue was raised that why the Democratic Party in the Soviet Union is so opposed with Mossadegh’s government. We used to say “the man (Mossadegh) is currently fighting against imperialism. Imperialism that brought all this evil upon our society; why do you disagree with him? Ghiyami who knew Mossadegh very well was in the meetings too. In one of the sessions he said to the chairman of the Democratic Party: I do not understand why you disagree with Mossadegh? Mr. Padgan - the chairman of the Democratic Party- replied: we should beat Mossadegh hardly. Then Ghiyami asked: so what would be happened then? Padegan responded: we’ll form a government. On 28 Mordad which in Mossadegh’s government was overthrown, I was listening to the news on radio in Baku at my house and meanwhile suddenly the phone rang. It was Mr. Ghiyami. He said “immediately come to the cult's mansion, I'm waiting for you there”. I was confused that what is happened with this man, when I saw him I said hello. Immediately he grabbed my wrist and without saying a word took me to the Padegan’s room. When we reached the room, he opened the door and looked into the room and while still taking my hand said to Padegan: Mr. Padegan, Mossadegh is already beaten, please set your government up! And he turned to me and said: I just wanted you be a witness, that’s all. After Stalin's death and the issues that were raised at the Fourth Plenum created divisions within Tudeh Party. Each side was accused by the other side. Some would say that your way against Mossadegh was not right and did betray, and others argued that this was global agenda that we've done. I think if at that time the Party had not focused its attacks on Mossadegh, perhaps something else would have been happened.

 Arrogance and character of the leaders of the Party was so that would prevent to consider the truth at critical moments. I remember when the difference took between the Soviet Union and China off; I was responsible for the organization in Moscow. I and colleagues believed that we should not interfere in this issue. Meanwhile, some people who were consistent with the policy of the Soviet Union tried to force us to interfere the issues. Since we often did not attend meetings, in short, meetings were canceled. I remember that one day Radmanesh said to me: buddy, why you bother us? I said: are we now only suffering the problems of China and the Soviet Union? I will never forget what Radmanesh responded: Soviet authorities have told us that they would pay our expanses but in the last 6 months you have not written anything against China. And you are saying this is not related to us, so do not bother. I got very angry at this reply and said: you are just doing copycat. Radmanesh got angry and left. It seems he was forced to say such these things. Some other leaders of the Party were the same and they were always in conflict with themselves, just like Iraj Eskandari.

 

□ Aside from the opposition of the Party and the Soviet Union with Mossadegh, some of his close friends and leaders of the movement were later separated their way...

Actually I’ve a memory about this case. Years later in a meeting with doctor Baghaei I asked him: Mr. Baghaei, is not clear to me why you were opponent against Mossadegh, what was the cause of this hostility? When the documents were discovered in the Sedan house, one of the documents relating to the doctor Matin and revealed that he was a British spy. I worried how to say this to doctor Mossadegh. So the doctor decided to send delegations to the United Nations in the United States and doctor Matin was on top of this board. I visited Mossadegh and tried to convince him to not send doctor Matin as one the delegations. Mossadegh responded: why, what is wrong? I said: there are reasons and documents that show it is better not to send him. But he was serious about his decision. Finally, I said: the documents in the Sedan house is related to this man as well. Doctor said: this is not true. So, I had to bring out the documents and show them to doctor Mossadegh. When he looked at the letter, just put it under his pillow. I did not say anything else, I said goodbye and I got out because I thought he is very upset and will reverse his decision. The next day, surprisingly I noticed that doctor has enforced his sentence and then was about to send Matin to America. I immediately grabbed him and said: sir! Yesterday I gave you the document. Why would you do this? Mossadegh replied: it’s not your business. Doctor Baghaei said: “since that time I did not trust him anymore”. I don’t know Baghaei was telling truth or not.

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