The Appointment of Moshir-ed-Dowleh

  September 26, 2021   Read time 4 min
The Appointment of Moshir-ed-Dowleh
After Moshir-ed-Dowleh succeeded Vossough, Caldwell expressed surprise that the British had permitted the appointment of such a person.

The reality appears to be that Britain’s position—due to the British retreat from Enzeli and Rasht (see below), popular opposition, and the resignation of Vossough—had been greatly weakened. The fall of Vossough was a heavy blow to British prestige: The British have not been idle in this Prime Minister game, for they have realized that they were, in large measure, responsible for the discontent of the Persians and much of the ill will that is now and has been evinced and directed against the British. It must not be forgotten that Vossough is, body and soul, their man. So the British were most interested in keeping Vossough in power, but since that failed, they naturally tried for the one who would be most acceptable for themselves and at the same time apparently pander to the desires of the people. But most of the people want a Premier whose patriotism and integrity are unquestionable and the announcement in the local paper that the British Minister called upon the new Premier, Moshir-ed-Dowleh, and spent four hours in conference with him, immediately turned a number of Moshir’s former adherents against him.

By the summer of 1920, it was clear to all that the Anglo-Persian agreement was dead, with no hope of resuscitation. Caldwell observes: During a recent excursion from north to south, through Persia, upon discrete inquiry scarcely a Persian was found to be in favor of the recent Anglo-Persian agreement. The Cabinet seems to have definitely put off the treaty and all considerations connected therewith until the matter can be taken up by the Medjliss.

Meanwhile the whole matter is being held in abeyance and practically all the British advisers employed by the Persian Government under the recent agreement have been dismissed or ostensibly sent on three months leave of absence. It is true that a few are remaining here, but these, although paid regularly, are not allowed to work on governmental business. Vossough-ed Dowleh, the former Prime Minister, is still in India, apparently at Simla, the Summer Capital; and for the present he is keeping out of the limelight here, hardly being in communication even with his family.

A telegram was received by the undersigned in a mixed commercial code from a mutual friend, stating that Vossough-ed-Dowleh was well and requesting information as to the welfare of his family here. Vossough-ed-Dowleh, the late Prime Minister, could not possibly return to Persia at this time, with the prevailing situation. The British cannot be very pleased at the turn affairs have taken since the departure from Teheran of Sir Percy Cox (who has, by the way, just arrived in Mesopotamia to take charge there, after having been for several months in England). The British have steadily lost ground, although naturally every effort has been made to keep affairs in the condition in which they wish them to be. This has happened in spite of the indefatigable efforts of the present British Minister, Mr. H. Norman. When the very popular new Prime Minister assumed his post it was agreed between the British and the Persian Government that the monthly subsidies of three hundred and fifty thousand tomans per month should be continued until the end of October, so the present Persian Government has had some money to run on, but it has certainly been very limited, and what is to happen at the end of October remains to be seen. The Foreign Minister recently told me that it was hoped to have the Medjliss opened by the early part of November, but it is certainly to be doubted if a sufficient number of members can be here and ready by that time, even if the Prime Minister seriously desires it.

Caldwell then included a seemingly innocuous piece of information that would prove to be very ominous. Immediately after the return of Ahmad Shah and the impending fall of Vossough-ed-Dowleh, and even before the appointment of Moshir-ed-Dowleh, the British had begun preparations for a coup d’état: “About a month ago it was rumored that the British had reversed their policy and were about to withdraw their troops from Persia, but this is not believed to have been well founded, and doubtless the wish was further to the thought. However, General Champagne, who has for more than a year been in charge of the British forces in Persia, is recalled, and General Ironside has been sent to take over the command.”