Puslapio vaizdai

evacuation. Russia, however, not only refused to evacuate Azerbaijan, but continued to treat it as though it were simple Russian territory. The provincial capital, Tabriz, was converted into a military base of operations against Turkey, the Turkish and German consuls were seized and deported to Russia, and Turkish and German subjects were killed by Russian soldiers in circumstances of barbarous cruelty. The natural result was that, toward the close of 1914, Turkish forces invaded Azerbaijan, and that unhappy province became a battle-ground for the Turkish and Russian armies, supported by their native partizans.

All this produced a most deplorable repercussion in other parts of the country. Although the Persian Government, composed as it had been ever since the Shuster episode of persons favorable to Russia and England, continued to stand for neutrality, the Persian people were swept by a wave of warlike passion and began to display unmistakable inclinations to join the Turks and throw off the Anglo-Russian yoke. The Turkish and German governments were well aware of the sullen animosity which rankled in Persian hearts, and a host of propagandists, well supplied with money, spread over Persia, urging the people to strike for liberty. Such arguments could not but find a ready response, especially as the brilliant German victories in Europe seemed eloquent testimony to strength of Persia's would-be friends. The activists found a rallying-point in the new Medjliss, most of the Nationalist deputies making no secret of their desire to throw Persia into the war on the Turco-German side.

Minister was quite obdurate on the matter of evacuation, but the British Minister was clearly moved by the force of Persian arguments. In the conference of December 23, the British Minister, Sir Walter B. Townley, thus plainly expressed himself in presence of his Russian colleague:

Frankly frightened by the trend of events, the Persian Government kept appealing to England and Russia, urging them to regularize Persia's position and calm the popular effervescence by withdrawing the Russian army from Azerbaijan. During the closing weeks of 1914 the Persian Premier held a series of conferences with the British and Russian ministers which are distinctly interesting from more than one point of view. The conversations disclosed, first, the fact that the Allied ministers were not in full accord. The Russian

If my Russian colleague attaches no importance to public opinion, I cannot take the same view, for the British Government has a great number of Mohammedan subjects. We get together here every fortnight, and we talk without coming to any result. If we go on this way, before two months are over Persia will be obliged to renounce her neutrality. We must, therefore, find a way out of this tangled situation. In my opinion, it would be best if the Russians evacuated Persia.

To this plain speaking the Russian Minister, obviously nettled, made no direct reply; but in subsequent interviews alone with the premier, Sir Walter made statements very interesting in the light of subsequent events. On December 30, Sir Walter told the premier:

I share absolutely your point of view and I certify that the Russians' attitude is hindering more and more the desired course of things. I remarked to the Russian Minister only day before yesterday that under present conditions there was no way of getting on. But, let conditions be what they may be, your Excellency knows sufficiently the aims of England, which are absolutely contrary to those of Russia. Whereas the latter, desiring a Persia weak and incapable of the least resistance, works in that sense, England, on the contrary, who sees in her present accord with Russia only a momentary rapprochement capable of changing at any moment to the hostility of former days, wishes a strong and powerful Persia; it is precisely to that end that all my efforts tend. Already Sir Arthur Nicholson, in his recent interview with M. Sazonoff1 went so far as to signify to him that the prolongation of the war in Persia might engender a grave conflict between England and Russia.

And further on in the same conversation Sir Walter suggested that, in case of hostilities with Turkey, Persia might

1 At that time Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

officer its forces with Englishmen from the Anglo-Indian Army.

For the time, it is true, these British efforts remained without effect. Russia, declining to evacuate Azerbaijan and thus release her hold on Persia, possibly to the profit of Great Britain, continued her war with the Turks on Persian soil, and these struggles in turn still further inflamed popular feeling against the Entente and in favor of the Turco-Germans. The Medjliss voted a whole series of strongly worded protests against the occupation of northern Persia by the Russians as well as against British landings at Southern points to repress local disorders; the Nationalist journals boldly proclaimed that the day of reckoning had come and that all true Persians ought to rush to arms to rid the country of the hateful infidel intruders, while the Turco-German propaganda took on fresh wings. The German Minister to Persia, Prince Henry of Reuss, proved himself an able propagandist, and the German legation at Teheran became the center of a web of intrigue whose meshes covered the uttermost parts of Persia. All through the summer of 1915 matters grew steadily worse, and in the early autumn the war party made a bold attempt to sweep Persia into the Turco-German camp. The Nationalists' great objective was to obtain possession of the young shah. Informed of these intrigues, the Russians suddenly marched upon

the capital with the avowed object of expelling the German Minister and his partizans. Unable to resist the Russians, the Nationalist leaders obtained an interview with the shah and besought him to declare himself openly for Turkey and leave with them for their stronghold in central Persia. Before their arguments the youth was almost persuaded and actually ordered his carriage, but at this critical moment the British and Russian ministers were announced. What passed at the ensuing interview has never been made public, but the tenor of the conversation can be gaged by a Russian note handed to the Persian Ministry, warning them that if it should happen that there was any truth in the rumors then current that Persia had concluded an alliance with Turkey and Turkey's allies, the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907, "which was founded upon the principle of the maintenance of the integrity and independence of Persia," would immediately lapse: in other words, that the last vestiges of Persian sovereignty would be summarily snuffed out. At any rate, the Anglo-Russian counterstroke was a success. Thoroughly cowed, the young shah refused to budge, the Nationalists fled, and Teheran fell under Allied control.

The story of the next year and a half is a confused welter of anarchic turmoil which need not long detain us. It was a terrible time for Persia. The Northwest continued to be the theater of a


Photograph by Brown Brothers Lord Curzon

sanguinary struggle between Russians and Turks. Central Persia was mainly in the hands of Turks and Nationalist partizan bands, while in the South England slowly tightened her grip and prepared for later eventualities. A British officer, Sir Percy Sykes, well acquainted with the country, recruited a native force among the wild Southern mountaineers, and this corps, known as the "South Persian Rifles," in conjunction with increasing numbers of Indian troops, presently formed a respectable army. The opening months of 1917 saw concerted strokes from both Russians and British. In the North the Russians roundly beat the Turks and virtually expelled them from Persia. At the same time Sir Percy Sykes made a rapid dash through central Persia, scattering the Nationalist forces and ultimately reaching Teheran, where he found the Russians already established. Thus by the late spring of 1917 Persia was firmly under Anglo-Russian control, all organized resistance being at an end.

So complete was the Anglo-Russian grip in the spring of 1917 that, but for one untoward event, Persia would have given the Allies no further concern. That event, the Russian Revolution, upset all military and political calculations and radically transformed the whole Persian problem. The original Cadet Provisional Government of Russia (the Miliukof-Lvoff cabinet) wished to continue the general Persian policy of czarist Russia, minus its extreme "forward" features. But the Cadet Government soon gave place to the socialist Kerensky régime, and one of Kerensky's first acts was a disavowal of all "imperialistic" designs, including most emphatically Persia. In July, 1917, the Kerensky Government ordered the Russian commander, Baratoff, to stop his advance through Persia and announced the withdrawal of the Russian forces at the earliest possible moment. This caused unbounded rejoicing in Persia, particularly in the

North, where the long years of Russian occupation had borne hard. Extraordinary scenes took place, took place, Russians and Persians fraternizing in the streets and forming revolutionary joint-committees for the fraternal settlement of outstanding difficulties. Throughout Persia the patriots once more raised


The shah in state passes through the north gate

their heads, feeling that now at last the Persian people stood a chance of being left free to develop their own politica! institutions without the continual dread of being crushed by the imperialistic appetites of the great powers. The entry of the United States into the war and the idealistic pronouncements of President Wilson further added to their confidence in the dawn of a better day. The people began demanding the reconvocation of the Medjliss, dissolved through Anglo-Russian pressure after the autumn crisis in 1915, the organization of a fairer system of elections, and the pardoning of Nationalist deputies who had been imprisoned or banished. It was also hoped that the shah would appoint a new cabinet which would endeavor honestly to preserve Persian independence and which would be subservient neither to Russia nor to England. Indeed, so far as Russia was concerned, no further apprehensions were felt. The Bolshevik Government of Russia went even further than had Kerensky in disclaiming designs upon Persia,

and on February 1, 1918, Foreign Minister Trotzky stated officially to the Persian minister at Petrograd that so far as Russia was concerned, the AngloRussian Convention of 1907 was null and void. This roused immense enthusiasm in Persia and emboldened the Persian Government to declare null and void all the treaties and concessions imposed upon Persia in recent years, particularly the convention of 1907.

The chief cloud upon the Nationalist horizon was the attitude of England. The British Government made no sign of seconding Russia's action declaring the 1907 convention abrogated. In fact, when the Persian Government's formal denunciation of that instrument made some British statement imperative, Lord Curzon announced in the House of Lords that the matter was temporarily "in suspense" and that it would be considered further after the termination of the war. Meanwhile, in Persia itself the withdrawal of Russia had left England master of the situation, and Sir Percy Sykes energetically increased his activities until his patrols covered virtually the whole country. All this roused the suspicions of the Nationalists and tended to throw them once more into the arms of the Turco-Germans. A group of Medjliss deputies actually went to Berlin, and Turkish forces invaded Azerbaijan. During the summer of 1918 the situation was very tense, but the rapid collapse of the central empires in the autumn and the end of the war removed all possibility of outside intervention, and left England without a rival in the Persian field. In fact, England now not only dominated Persia itself, but had extended her control to most of the surrounding regions. Both Mesopotamia and Turkish Armenia to the west were occupied by British troops, while to the North British naval units commanded the Caspian Sea.

Such was the condition of affairs in Persia when that country sent a delegation to the Versailles peace conference to lay before that august assembly Persia's claims. At the moment of their departure the delegates had good grounds for optimism. The Persian Government had received assurances of

sympathy and support from several of the Allied governments, notably France and the United States. Arriving at Paris in January, 1919, the delegation presented Persia's claims to the peace conference. This document pressed for a confirmation of Persia's recent denunciation of the various treaties, conventions, and precedents limiting its independence and freedom of action, together with such guaranties for the future as the abolition of extra-territoriality, revision of onerous economic concessions to foreign interests, and the absolute right to employ foreign advisers without the necessity of obtaining the consent of any foreign power. The delegates awaited expectantly the calling of their case. They continued to wait. They sent in supplementary memoranda and "reminders." They published "Green Books" and pamphlets, and bombarded the Paris press. All in vain. The peace conference ignored the Persian delegation, and Persia's case was never called to the bar. The reason was, of course, the stubborn veto of England. Great Britain was determined that Persian affairs should not come up for discussion at Versailles, and Great Britain had her way. The one sop which Persia received was her inclusion in the list of states invited to assent to the Covenant of the League of Nations, thereby nominating Persia as a presumptive member of the league, and thus by implication recognizing her as a sovereign state. This, however, was cold comfort in view of rumors as to what was afoot between Great Britain and Iran.

These rumors proved well founded, for on August 15, after Germany had signed the treaty and the European decks were fairly clear, the British Government showed its Persian hand. On that date it announced, as the culmination of negotiations lasting nine months, the Anglo-Persian "agreement." That "negotiations'" avowal is most illuminating. Nine months backward from mid-August, 1919, brings one to the exact time of the armistice which ended the European War. In other words, the instant fighting ceased on the western front, Great Britain got busy about Persia. Another highly significant thing

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is the place at which these negotiations were conducted. Not in Paris, not in London, but in Teheran, were held those conversations so fateful for Persia's future. The best and strongest minds of Persia had gone to Paris to plead their country's cause. There they were held inactive and impotent through Great Britain's veto. Meanwhile, British diplomacy, so leisurely at Paris, acted with executive promptness at Teheran. With many of the country's best defensive brains absent in Paris, the personnel of the Persian Government that remained at home was still further depleted, patriots being dropped and replaced by Anglophiles. And of course Sir Percy Sykes and his "South Persian Rifles" stood ever outside the door. The upshot was naturally a foregone conclusion.

Now for the treaty itself. This precious document naturally contains the customary diplomatic "In the name of God, Amen." At the outset we are told that "In virtue of the close ties of friendship which have existed between the two governments in the past, and

in the conviction that it is in the essential and mutual interests of both in future that these ties should be cemented, and that the progress and prosperity of Persia should be promoted to the utmost"; and toward the end we are assured "in the most categorical manner" of the pledges which the British Government has "repeatedly given in the past to respect absolutely the independence and integrity of Persia." As a press critic wittily remarked, "Had the document opened with the doxology and ended with the benediction, it could not have conveyed more unctuously the impression of suave sincerity and effusive good-will."

Diplomatic verbiage being thus disposed of, let us get to the meat of the matter. The salient feature is a British loan of 2,000,000 pounds sterling, at the modest interest of seven per cent., redeemable in twenty years, secured by a lien on Persia's customs and telegraphs, and taking precedence of all other Persian debts except a former loan (also British) dating from 1911. We are further assured that this is merely the

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