891.00/11–2145: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

12224. In discussing Iranian situation with us today Baxter, Head of Eastern Department of Foreign Office, said no confirmation had yet been received of reported stopping of Iranian troops by Russians but that in any event situation was obviously serious and British perturbed. There was no doubt, he said, that in view of development of affair Russians are behind present agitation but concrete evidence to that effect adequate to serve as a basis for representations to Moscow is still lacking.

On other hand, Baxter expressed view that it might be erroneous to attribute these difficulties entirely to Russians since there has been long historic precedent for special treatment of mixed population of Azerbaijan area by central authority in Tehran as for instance during Kajar regime46 when Crown Prince was often made governor of area. Recent evidence of this lack of homogeneity has been afforded when certain dissident elements in Azerbaijan had welcomed Russian occupation in 1941 and seems probable that these persons may well view with dismay prospect of Russian troop withdrawal.

Baxter observed difficult to assess ultimate Russian intentions but he suggested that Russian support of both Azerbaijan and Kurd agitation might have as at least one of its objectives bringing pressure to bear on Turkey as well as Iran.

Baxter said British had recommended to Iranians that their best weapon in circumstances would seem to be publicity and he remarked that Iranian Ambassador in Washington apparently needed no coaching in that regard judging by press reports. Concerning Iranian [Page 441]note advising Russians of intended sending of troops into Azerbaijan, Baxtor said British questioned whether it might not have been better tactics to move troops without prior notifications on assumption that Russians would not interfere. Since such notification had in fact been given however, British had thought that publicity should be given to it in order to prepare ground for possible release of subsequent material as situation developed. Regarding call of Iranian Ambassador47 on Bevin yesterday, as reported in press, Bevin said Ambassador had called under instructions in order to outline situation but that he had contributed nothing of interest which British did not already know.

Asked regarding possible effect of these developments on British troop withdrawal Baxter said British proceeding as planned and that they had no reason to believe Russians not likewise intending to complete evacuation by agreed date. In Commons today Foreign Secretary was asked whether, in view of latest developments, he would reaffirm assurances given by his predecessor that it was Government’s intention in all circumstances to safeguard British imperial interest in Southern Persia and Persian Gulf. Bevin reported to have replied that it was Government’s intention to safeguard British interests in whatever part of world they may be found.48

Sent Department as 12224, repeated Tehran as 30.

Winant
  1. The Kajar dynasty was established in Iran in 1779. It lasted until 1925 when the Majlis deposed Shah Ahmed and proclaimed Reza Khan his successor.
  2. Seyed Hassan Taqizadeh.
  3. For texts of question and of reply by Mr. Bevin, see Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 416, col. 441. For further statement on November 21 by Mr. Bevin, on the situation in Persia and the withdrawal of British troops from that country, see ibid., col. 545. The “assurances given by his predecessor” refer, presumably, to the statement made in the House of Commons on June 6, 1945, by Richard K. Law, Minister of Education in the “caretaker” government which took office on May 25, 1945, and, prior to that, Minister of State, ibid., vol. 411, col. 858.