The British Legation in Teheran, 1911 to 1914
During the period 1911 to 1914, Britain’s relations with Persia were characterised by a series of crises interspersed by shorter periods of relative calm. The crises revolved around the unsatisfactory nature of the Anglo-Russian Convention of August 1907 which created zones of Russian and British influence, as well as an interceding neutral zone in Persia. By 1911 attention focused on the pretensions of the former Shah, Mohamed Ali, and his supporters, who had Russian support. Traditionally, the historiography in English of this subject has focused either upon policy emanating from London or Delhi. However, the neglected element in this equation was the British Legation in Teheran. There, successive British ministers struggled with an increasingly chaotic political situation. Specifically, this paper will highlight a number of issues which are illuminated in the private papers of William James Garnett, who served at the British Legation from 1911 to 1914. Garnett believed strongly that the nature of Russian ambitions in Persia, the nature of Persian politics, as well as the weakness of British policy, made partition of the country between Britain and Russia inevitable. To that extent, the paper challenges the idea that the ‘Great Game’ between Britain and Russia ended with the Convention of 1907.
Keywords: British, Foreigh Relations, Persia, Pre-1914
Dr. John Fisher
Senior Lecturer, International History, University of the West of England