In , an ambitious American was invited by a budding Iranian democracy to bring financial stability to the country. He went with the blessing of the British and Russian governments, both of which enjoyed a wide sphere of influence in the region. However, no one expected him to succeed so quickly in making Iran into a credible democracy and he was ousted by the actions of the Russian and British governments. Strangling of Persia offers keen insights into the timeless methods used by powerful nations to achieve their own ends. Note: This book was orginally published in by The Century Company.
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In , an ambitious American was invited by a budding Iranian democracy to bring financial stability to the country. He went with the blessing of the British and Russian governments, both of which enjoyed a wide sphere of influence in the region.
However, no one expected him to succeed so quickly in making Iran into a credible democracy and he was ousted by the actions of the Russian and British governments. Strangling of Persia offers keen insights into the timeless methods used by powerful nations to achieve their own ends. Note: This book was orginally published in by The Century Company.
Morgan Shuster, or the Anglo-Russian agreement. Yet what happened then helps explain how Russia was shut out of the Persian Gulf and why Iranians behave as they do today. Before that pact, Iranians looked upon Russia as a traditional enemy and Britain as a well-meaning friend. Britain had aimed to keep all rivals, especially Russia, away from approaches to India, notably the Persian Gulf. The gulf was virtually a British lake, charted, mapped and cleared of pirated by the British Navy… Hardly had he arrived when Shuster became embroiled in a dispute with Russia over customs policy.
Shuster departed but then wrote a forceful book, The Strangling of Persia. There are several peculiar features about writing any detailed account of the recent political events in Persia which make necessary some slight explanation. The first point is that Persian political affairs, fraught as they are with misfortune and misery for millions of innocent people, are conducted very much as a well-staged drama-I have heard some critics say, as an opera bouffe.
The reader will find the same old characters weaving in and out of the story, at one time wearing the make-up of a Royalist Minister, at another the garb of a popular patriot. Cabinets are formed and dissolved with unreal rapidity. Men high in the councils of the nation sink in a day into perfect obscurity,-only to emerge again as the ceaseless whirl of intrigue drags them into public favor. All these men belong to what may be described as the professional governing class in Persia, and there is very distinctly such a class.
Indeed it is only in recent years that the idea has been even admissible that a man of mediocre parentage, or without a title, could fill any official position.
Thus the fortunes and hopes of millions of voiceless subjects are largely dependent upon the line of action which some professional cabinet officer, or governor, or self-styled general may decide to adopt at a given time.
Another feature which is very puzzling to the uninitiated is the-to foreigners-absurdly complicated system of names and titles. It is rather difficult for foreigners to remember these appellations, especially as a great many of them end with one of the four words Mulk kingdom , Dawla state , Saltana sovereignty , or Sultan sovereign.
Still another difficulty is in spelling with Roman characters these names and titles. Half a dozen people are apt to write a Persian name in six different ways. Thus, one of the prominent Persian cabinet officers during the past year writes his own title in English as Vossough-ed-Dotleh; others write it Vossuke-Dowleh; while Professor E. To avoid confusion the writer has deemed it best to follow, so far as possible, the method of spelling these names and titles which has been adopted by Professor Browne in his various writings on Persian history.
Most readers are more familiar with ancient Persian history than with modern events in that strange land. During the past generation the most striking evidence of the power and desire of the Persian people to have even a small voice in their public affairs was the remarkable prohibition on the use of tobacco proclaimed by the Islamic clergy and immediately obeyed by the people when, in , the famous Tobacco Concession was actually put into force.
One quarter of the profits was to go to the Persian government, which meant to the Shah and his ministers and court. Even the long-suffering Persians had grown tired of this wholesale selling of their rights and industries, and in December, , as a result of a religious decree, all the tobacco-shops closed their doors, the people destroyed or put away their waterpipes, and in a marvelously short time the use of tobacco practically ceased.
His assassin was a fanatic named Mirza Muhammad Riza, of the city of Kirman, and the motive, though never clearly established, was not unconnected with the general belief that the rights of Persia were being rapidly sold out to foreigners.
Some six months before his death the Persian people, whose discontent with the tyranny of their rulers had been constantly increasing, commenced an open agitation for the granting of a constitution, and in July, , by a measure which was as remarkable as it was successful, they brought about this result. Some 16, people of Teheran, from all walks in life, after being exhorted by the Mullahs or priests, took refuge or sanctuary-bast it is called in Persia-in the vast compound of the British Legation, and in the mosques and other sacred places.
After various attempts to break up this peculiar form of resistance, the Shah and his government were compelled to yield, partly through the strange humiliation which the adoption of this course by the people conveys to the minds of the Persian governing class against whom it may be directed, and partly through fear of further and more active measures of opposition.
On August 5, , the so-called constitution was granted and the people resumed their homes and ordinary avocations. Thus, by an almost bloodless revolution, the centuries-old absolutism of the Persian monarchs had been legally modified by constitutional forms, imperfect in many respects as they were, and, what was even more important, the people had learned something of their real power and were more determined than ever to save their nation from the straight road to disintegration and decay along which it had been for generations skillfully piloted by its hereditary rulers.
This infamous individual arrived at Teheran on December 17, , the Shah being very ill, and was crowned on January 19, , having previously pledged himself to observe the constitution and rights granted by his father. Muhammad Ali Shah Qajar was perhaps the most perverted, cowardly, and vice-sodden monster that had disgraced the throne of Persia in many generations. He hated and despised his subjects from the beginning of his career, and from having a notorious scoundrel for his Russian tutor, he easily became the avowed tool and satrap of the Russian Government and its agent in Persia for stamping out the rights of the people.
The reign of Muhammad Ali Shah started out most inauspiciously. He began by ignoring the Medjlis and mutual suspicions and open dissensions became the rule.
The Medjlis proposed to exercise some of its hard-won authority, while the 03hah with his favorites, thoroughly reactionary ministers and court party, was equally determined to wield all that old arbitrary and cruelly oppressive power for which the House of Qajar has been notorious. The deputies of the Medjlis were becoming more and more convinced that the Shah and his party regarded them as enemies to his plans, and they determined to assert their strength to bring about the reforms which were most urgently needed.
They particularly desired to prevent any further loans from Russia and England, as they had come to regard the rapidly increasing foreign indebtedness of the Persian nation as a source of danger to her independence and safety.
Naus, a Belgian who, with a number of his countrymen, had been employed for some years to organize the Persian Customs, and who had succeeded in acquiring a large fortune and in establishing himself as a political and financial power of the most baleful description. The Medjlis also planned to establish a national bank, to be capitalized with money raised from internal subscriptions, in order that their dependence on foreign financial assistance might be lessened. On February 10, , the Shah was compelled to dismiss Mons.
Naus, and this one achievement vastly increased the prestige of the Medjlis with the people. This grandee, the Atabak, is perhaps the strongest figure in recent Persian history. Of unusually broad European education, widely traveled, but thoroughly despotic and corrupt, he had been condemned by the mullahs for his dishonest participation in the two Russian loans to Persia of and , and had been forced into exile in When his consent to return became known, the Russian Government lost no time in resuming warm relations with him, and he was conveyed across the Caspian to the Persian port of Enzeli in a Russian gunboat, with the highest official honors.
When he landed, the people of Resht, the capital of the province, compelled him to swear fidelity to the Constitution before permitting him to continue on his journey to Teheran. On reaching Teheran, the 26th of April, the Atabak found a state of disorder and chaos in every department of the government. The treasury was in its normally void condition and there were uprisings and disturbances throughout the entire Empire.
The Medjlis knew more or less what should be done, but the Shah was determined that they should do nothing unless to carry out his own plans. Matters went from bad to worse, and during the month of August, Russia, which had never been content with the establishment of a constitutional regime in Persia, began to threaten the Medjlis with intervention.
Troubles with Turkey also arose, and an army of 6, Turkish troops crossed the northwestern Turco-Persian frontier, and after occupying a number of Persian towns, actually threatened the city of Urmiah. All this time the Atabak had been working to bring about another Russian loan, though he was afraid to contract the same without the approval of the Medjlis. By the end of August he had almost succeeded in winning over to his project a majority of the deputies when, on August 31, he was shot and killed, as he was coming out of the Assembly building, by a young man named Abbas Aqa, of Tabriz, who immediately committed suicide.
This youth was a member of one of the numerous anjumans or secret political societies which had sprung up in great numbers, and his undoubted motive was the, to him, patriotic idea of saving the constitutional government from ruin and betrayal at the hands of the clever and intriguing prime minister, whom he considered a traitor.
Most of the members of this cabinet were believed to be favorable to the Constitution. They remained in the office until December, when they resigned. Petersburg between England and Russia.
On September 4 it was made public at Teheran, and despite its carefully worded assurances of respect for the integrity and independence of Persia, this famous document produced a most painful impression on the Persian people. In , the Iranian Minister in Washington asked the U.
Government for assistance in finding a financial advisor. Shuster was recommended and went on to serve for the duration of before being forced out at the end of the year.
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The Strangling Of Persia
Shuster was born in Washington, D. After graduation, Shuster became a customs collector for the U. In , the Constitutional Revolution of Iran sought to establish a Western-oriented, democratic civil society in Iran , then known as Persia to the outside world. The movement forced the Shah to agree to the election of the first Majlis, the opening up of a relatively free press, and a number of other reforms. After being recommended by the U. Persia was on shaky financial footing at the time due to heavy debts accumulated by the Qajars , the Persian royal family, to the two colonial powers of Great Britain and Russia in Iran.
The Strangling of Persia: A Story of European Diplomacy and Oriental Intrigue
The Strangling of Persia. Morgan Shuster. Powers of the Regent, the Cabinet and the Medjlis. Form of government and sources of revenue. The public debt.