As Iranian students storm the British embassies in Tehran, historical comparisons are made to 1979 (the seizure of the US embassy there) and to 1980 (when the Iran embassy in London was seized by Iraqi terrorists and rescued by SAS). IP takes a longer view.
Hatred of Britain in Iran has deep roots. Ever since William Knox D’Arcy was granted a concession by the Shah of Persia to search for oil in 1901, the Persians resented the fact that oil profits went only into the coffers of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, the mighty conglomerate that counted among its paid lobbyists young Winston Churchill.
In April 1951, the Majlis (parliament) of Iran under the nationalist Mohammed Mossadeq nationalized the oil industry in Iran, and kicked out the then Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC). Britain’s response was to stage a coup against Mossadeq, and that it finally achieved with the help of the CIA in August 1953.
The AIOC returned to Iran, as a plurality owner (40%) of a new international consortium involving five American companies (40%), Royal Dutch Shell and Compagnie Française des Pétroles (now Total) (20%). The AIOC became the British Petroleum in 1954 when the above picture was taken. The companies continued to operate in Iran until 1979, when the new Islamic regime again nationalized the oil industry without compensation, bringing to an end the BP’s 70-year presence in Iran.
Shortly after the U.S. embassy was seized, and its own embassy was occupied, Britain closed its embassy in Tehran in 1980 — the beginning of the eight-year diplomatic hiatus. In 1986, the relations hit nadir as Iran pointedly nominated Hussein Malouk, who took part in in the 1979 student takeover of the U.S. embassy as Iranian chargé d’affaires in London. HMG refused to accept Mr. Malouk. In 1989, the diplomatic relations resumed briefly before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa on Anglo-Indian author Salman Rushdie. In the 2000s, the terse diplomatic dance continued. In 2004 and 2007, the Islamic Republic briefly arrested groups of British soldiers for straying into its waters from Iraq. Salman Rushdie’s knighthood and the Green Revolution further exacerbated the relations.
But, no matter how unsalvageable that relationship is, this blog has always viewed the diplomatic immunity as sacrosanct and the host country as the power responsible for protection, security and well-being of envoys and diplomats. By turning the blind eye to this raid, and by tacitly condoning and perhaps even encouraging actions of this angry mob, the Islamic Republic has proven itself to be an unreliable, duplicitous, and crass entity.
6 thoughts on “British Embassy in Iran Seized”
Oh c’mon those students raided only the Embassy but those diplomats raided their country for years and they still want to.
Thanks-you – excellent post. The history of Anglo-Persian oil interests is a tortuous, and interesting one. More here:
[…] British Embassy in Iran Seized « Iconic Photos By thequintessential As Iranian students storm the British embassies in Tehran, historical comparisons are made to 1979 (the seizure of the US embassy there) and to 1980 (when the Iran embassy in London was seized by Iraqi terrorists and rescued by SAS). … https://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/british-embassy-in-iran-seized/ […]
“Republic has proven itself to be an unreliable, duplicitous, and crass entity.” Your just figuring this out about Iran now? Way to pay attention.
“But, no matter how unsalvageable that relationship is, this blog has always viewed the diplomatic immunity as sacrosanct… By turning the blind eye to this raid…the Islamic Republic has proven itself to be an unreliable, duplicitous, and crass entity.”
What an utterly hypocritical and ridiculous assertion!
So the Islamic Republic is a crass duplicitous entity, but the UK government which murdered Iranians and bombed Iran in an attempt to regain control of their oil is a beacon of freedom and righteousness am I right?
Where are your priorities?! One country illegally bombs another and murders people and receives no condemnation, but another allows some students to ransack a building and whoaa here comes the internet moralizing!
Iran was destroyed by the US and UK campaign to retake its oil after it was nationalized. Iraq was destroyed by the US and UK campaign to retake its nationalized oil (which has succeeded). And now they are trying to do it all over again in Iran, and all you can come up with is some ridiculous self-righteous internet moralizing about “sancrosanct diplomatic immunity”. My, how rich!
Stick to what you know – photographs – and leave the internet moralizing to people less biased, who still consider human life and the sanctity of national borders more important than a symbolic building.
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