Strategic Coalition: Sacrificing Minor Interests for Major Goals

  December 15, 2021   Read time 2 min
Strategic Coalition: Sacrificing Minor Interests for Major Goals
One consequence of the new Anglo-Russian friendship was the destruction of the new Iranian parliament.

Foreign hostility, with domestic aid, destroyed the foundations of the Constitutional government twice in about four years. Prior to the 1907 convention Great Britain had acted as a midwife of the new order, but subsequently, in spite of Grey's good intentions, British performance generally favored Russia at the expense of Iran.

Grey’s policy toward Iran from beginning to end was nonintervention and friendship with Russia, and, if the two objects clashed, the former had to yield. “If the Persian question was mismanaged,” he argued, “the Persian question might disappear, and bigger issues would arise.” It was this conviction which governed his actions, resulting in the subordination of purely Iranian interests to the demands of the European situation.”

Russia was quite aware of British thinking and took advantage of it. S. D. Sazonov” aptly described the situation in a significant letter to the Russian Minister at Tehran: “The English, engaged in the pursuit of political aims of vital importance in Europe, may, in case of necessity, be prepared to sacrifice certain interests in Asia in order to keep a Convention alive which is of such importance to them. This is a circumstance which we can, of course, exploit for ourselves, as for instance, in Persian affairs.”

Russian opposition to the Constitutional government was welcomed by Muhammad Shah from the beginning of his reign on January 19, 1907. His acts defying the Majlis are too numerous to mention here,” but the nature of his fight against it is well summarized by E. G. Browne:
On the one hand we see a King, selfish, obstinate, headstrong, who having looked forward to enjoying one day the unrestricted power of his predecessors and indulging in his turn in their lavish extravagance, suddenly finds himself checked and thwarted in his aims by a young but sturdy Parliament, for the destruction of which he is willing to pay any price, even the price of Persia's freedom and independence. On the other hand we see an ancient and talented people, long oppressed and downtrodden, long schooled to servitude and silence, but now suddenly awakened to new hopes and conscious of new powers, and resolute not to suffer the cup of Freedom, as yet hardly tasted, to be dashed from their lips.