CLIO mr brice - page 30

So, considering we have just seen how Iran was certainly
not very complicit with the Nazi regime, what ulterior
motives could possibly be had for the Anglo-Soviet
invasion? The real purpose was to secure Iranian oil
fields, and ensure Allied supply lines for the Soviets
fighting against Axis forces on the Eastern Front. British
forces were spread thin after the North African defensive
against the Italian effort to break into Egypt, and the
arrival of Rommel and his German Afrika Korps forced
a retreat back towards Alexandria in the late spring of
1941. Anti-British revolts were being instigated in many
areas that Britain were currently exploiting, necessitating
intervention by British troops. This exacerbated the issue
at hand, leaving Britain in a weak position filled with
uncertainty and doubt. Seen in that context, the British
and Soviet incursion of Iran during August 1941 was
an essential strategical measure that intended to hit two
birds with one stone, due to the critical juncture the
Allies had reached in the war. Hitler had achieved great
successes all over Europe, occupying swathes of land,
leaving no viable paths for Britain and the Soviet Union
to support each other, barring the hazardous Arctic route
to Murmansk. Once Hitler initiated the Barbarossa
offensive by sweeping into Russia, the Soviets urgently
needed supplies from its Western allies to help equip its
armies in order to fend off the advancing Germans. The
route from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian, as arduous as
it seemed, appeared to be the only answer to such a crisis.
A large scale military operation was needed in order to
not only secure trade routes, but also to access an eight
million-tonne oil reserve essential for Allied War efforts.
With the element of surprise on Britain's side, Iran was
taken in under a month. This was done through an
invasion from both sides; Britain invaded Khuzestan
then Central Iran, whereas Russia took the approach
of occupying northern Iran. The Allied forces met little
resistance from the Iranian army which Reza Shah had
spent so much attention and money in modernising.
After three days, the Shah ordered his troops to cease
further resistance. British and Soviet forces met in central
Iran, and entered Tehran on September 17, 1941, and
the Shah abdicated in favour of his son, Mohammed
Reza.
The humiliation of the invasion, the presence of the Allies,
the food shortages, the economic disruption caused
by the war, the weakness of the government – all of it
helped to stimulate another upsurge in political activity,
especially within those pertaining to a nationalistic
sentiment. During the constitutionalist period, new
newspapers – and this time new political parties – grew
exponentially. The die had been cast, consigning the
Pahlavi dynasty to the doom of glorious revolution, as
these new political parties gave radical revolutionaries the
means to contest against the autocratic regime, the new
newspapers a platform from which they could rile the
people's’ discontent. The blood spilt in such a revolution
baptised the revival of Islamic fortunes in Iran, and
instilled a confrontational nature to the newly reborn
state of Iran that sought to reject foreign interference
for fear of exploitation. In the modern political climate,
many Western countries dislike the current Iran. In
many respects, they only have themselves to blame.
To conclude, we can see that the Anglo-Soviet Invasion
of Iran crippled its process of modernisation. Reza
Shah, although by no means perfect, had set on an
ambitious program of economic, cultural, and military
modernization; baby steps which the Anglo-Soviet
Invasion of Iran comprehensively subverted. From
looking at Iraq in recent times, and Syria these days,
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s words ring painfully
true: “We learn from history, that we do not learn from
history.”
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