British Advisers and Untrusted Government

  February 22, 2022   Read time 1 min
British Advisers and Untrusted Government
Domestic and international uproar cast a shadow over the ratification of the Anglo-Persian Agreement, although this did not stop its advocates from trying to implement some of its terms.
The Vosuq al-Dowleh government began employing British civilian and military advisers, who practically were to run government ministries, reform the country’s finances, and try to realize the long-standing aspirations for a uniform Iranian army. With British financial backing—essentially resuming the monetary payments negotiated during the war—the Iranian government managed to score a few successes, primarily in quelling unrest in the provinces.
The persistent Jangal rebellion, sustained heavy blows from the joint operations of the Iranian regular army and the Iranian Cossack and Gendarme regiments. Since the end of the war, they had both enjoyed the logistical backing of British forces. In Kashan, too, the highly disruptive Na’eb Hosain, a bandit whose raids terrorized the entire region, was captured and hanged. Most of his men were disbanded as well.
Yet the possibility of Bolshevik advances toward Tehran, however remote, never dissipated. Nor were the Iranian nationalists or the young Ahmad Shah ever convinced of British sincerity. In a rare display of courage in his otherwise unhappy career as the last Qajar monarch, Ahmad Shah showed evident signs of dismay over the conclusion of the agreement during his official visit to Britain in September 1919.
It is likely, however, that his hesitation was motivated by his exclusion from receiving a share of the British commission for the conclusion of the agreement surreptitiously paid to his minsters. Having lost backing from Britain, in June 1920, the Vosuq al-Dowleh government was dismissed by the shah. With domestic and international pressure, the chances of the agreement ever being ratified by the prospective fourth Majles had faded.
By early 1920, it became evident even to Curzon, and his critics in the British parliament, that the Anglo-Persian Agreement was essentially dead. In Iran no one celebrated the demise of the agreement, not even the vociferous nationalist press. Most people recognized that as long as Britain maintained a military presence, held sway over the political elite, and controlled the southern oil fields, it was unlikely to give up its interests in Iran.

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