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the foundation of political philosophy in Iran-constitutional period

The foundation of political philosophy in Iran-constitutional period


Iranian Contemporary History No. 60


History Hall


  Britain, Oil & Bakhtiaries 
Alireza Abtahi
The early years of the 20th century were the changing years in the relations of the European states and constitution of the political poles. From the early years of this century Iranian government gave the petroleum concession to an English citizen, WILLIAM NOX DARCY, which was the origin of the effective conflicts and upheavals on inner, regional and international level. You may find no other advantage as effective as Darcy’s concession in the Iranian 20th century history.
The reason is that economy, industry and the international politics have direct connection on oil and the shake-up on one effect on the other.
If we add Russia, Britain and then Germany competition over Iran to the function and influence of the petroleum the issue importance will be manifested. Oil and the affiliated issues became a part of the European states completion circle and then the United States, the completion which sealed political, economical and social fate of the country.
The British government in the Qajar era which had an up-and-down but developing relation in IRAN looked at IRAN as a barrier land between Czarist Russian and the crown colony, India, for this reason it didn’t make much effort to invest in Iran and defend of that investment and the likely profits because it wanted to hinder the intensive competition and bearing the expenses against Russia due to the adjacency of Iran & Russia and the far distance of the Britain & Iran. Furthermore the British policy in IRAN laid on the axis to hinder the development of Iran, weakening of the central government, partition of the strategic areas and eventually fragmentation of Iran followed by the Britain. One of the weakening ways of establishing regional bases in the sensitive areas such as Bakhtiaries and KUZESTAN which were noticed by the foreigners.
With a glance to the internal status of the political and military structure of Iranian government in these years, the weakness and debility of the government was clearly on the make. The debility of the central government in one hand and the tribal syntax of Iranian society on the other hand brought forth Darcy petroleum company relationship with Bakhtiaries due to the colonial programs of the U.K.
When Iranian government decided to grant oil concession to Darcy, it had not only enough information on its strategic importance in the arena of politics, economy& developing industry in various societies but also it felt no need to discover, produce and utilize of petroleum, while this relation was based on the British industrial needs and awaking those needs and the way to dissolve the needs in profitable and one-way form.
English got familiar slightly with Bakhtiaris from the early years of Qajar dynasty, gradually by passing the time on the straight of gaining business profit and developing its influence after opening KAROON River on the international business looked more precisely at Bakhtiari’s territory and the southern and central zones in Iran. Afterwards, by close relationship (contracting a compact of making KAROON ROAD named LINCH) their information and interests about Bakhtiaris and the necessity of their tribal life increased.
What followed by this new relationship with high speed changes, was Darcy & the partners’ attention to Iran‘s southern areas particularly the residence and territory of Bakhtiaris in the suburb of MASJED SOLEYMAN and today’s KHUZESTAN.
Due to Darcy petroleum contract, Iranian central state has to provide the security needed for Darcy &the partner’s. This was the accident point as a result of debility of the central state and the structure of Bakhtiari tribe. Because neither the central state was able to provide the impressing power and the security nor the Bakhtiari side was ready to abide by and be silent.
Having a glance at the content of the correspondence clearly proves that the British part at first was not ready to offer any advantages to Bakhtiaris for getting permission for its activities, because it scared to face with developing demands in all parts of Iran which was the geographical bound of Darcy’s concession.
Moreover Iranian government had no accurate and vivid obligation to fulfill.
If we analyze the issues from the viewpoint of national benefit and territorial integrity we have paved the wrong path, because for Bakhtiaris, the clan benefits particularly the heads of the clan’s in different types were in priority and due to clannish syntax in Bakhtiari clan and the Iranian society of that time something like the national benefits seems unrespectable
Therefore if the discussion is hurting the national benefits by making a relationship between Bakhtiaris and the British side; we must say for Bakhtiaris the national benefits were not posed nor could it be posed. Since Bakhtiaris were in the stage of transmission an association rather than participating in power.
The surface of the issue shows that an English citizen gets the oil concession and tries to utilize it and for the cause of debility of the central state for providing of the security, Darcy & the partners confront with Bakhyiari clan, inevitably share Bakhtiaris in the benefit of the stock for providing security. But by discovering oil & deepening of this connection and utilizing to enforce& pressure the central state it is known that great aims embedded in the simple relation.
From now on, the British side and the British government had a new view on Bakhtiaris land and the heads of the clans which were particularly economical and business view.
The obligation of this point of view was establishing security, peace & quiet to develop the activities.
Therefore trying to bring security & quiet was on the top of the agenda by the petroleum company & the British government in this zone. What stain this point of view was the age-old conflict between CHAHARLANG sect & HAFTLANG sect and the ILKHANI, HAJI ILKHANI, ILBEYGI lineage from one hand and from the other hand the racial difference of the Bakhtiaris with their neighbors, especially in XUZESTAN territory (Arab territory) the region under Sheikh Khaz’al control, so trying to close the clan heads was necessary because the sectarian differences within Bakhtiaris & among their neighbors was a menace for stability & benefits of the British who had an economical view on this land, rather than their political viewpoint.
If we look at the two sides relations in the second episode, from 1905 till the end of world war the I, we will understand that the British wanted to lead their aims by getting along with the clans and dealing with them by haggling with them on getting financial, economical, and even political concessions such as try and support to govern on different towns and these were all because of not having powerful and impressive military force at that time.
After discovering oil and proving the existence of large oil reserves in Bakhtiari’s territory, the importance of the southern areas of Iran particularly the Bakhtiari’s territory increased. Parallel to the new situation, Bakhtiari clans as the other clans’ throughout Iranian history especially after Safavid era, wouldn’t lose the opportunity to meddle with the central government and gaining the power, and therefore tries to enter the governing circle and gain a share for itself. Reaching as high-ranking officials, to the extent of prime minister by Bakhtiari head clans after TEHRAN Conquer, boosted their social and political position and afterwards Bakhtiaris not only from the angle of their residence but also as one of the main players in the political arena of Iran vis-à-vis British and Russian governments appeared.
All these measures didn’t mean that Bakhtiari clan-heads forsake maintaining and development of their own benefits in the region or country-wide .Consecutive haggling with the British side &the Petroleum Company on the issues of maintaining & conservancy of petroleum areas ,conveyance the required land for the petroleum Co. ,shares of the clans in the active companies of the region such as Bakhtiari Oil Company ,and contracting consequent compacts shows that they also try to maintain & develop their benefits in the beneficiary views.
However the political and economic status of Iran between 1909-1914 years paved the way for close relationship between Bakhtiaris and the Iranian-British Petroleum Company and the British government as well .Signing 1907 contract consequence caused a kind of survey on relations between the two sides and this made attending of BANGAL Infantry regiment in the oil regions .Next upheavals ,especially after utilizing Bakhtiari’s military competence in great and national activities closed the two sides more and more and the consequence of this close relationship shown in compacting 1912 contract. Despite of purchasing more than half of the stocks of Iran-Britain Petroleum Company by the British government and it was considered the trade and political partner of Bakhtiaris, but Bakhtiaris didn’t attend in the negotiations of 1916 contract and they were not ready to forswear adhesion to royalty .But the relation of the sides during world war I intensified and reached its apogee.
Compacting 1905 contract influenced on Bakhtiaris &Darcy and impressed on the internal status and kind of Bakhtiaris and clan-heads relationship with their external society and interacted them closely with the concession syndicate and the political delegation of the Britain and solidified Bakhtiaris teetering steps for the next upheavals because they had authority to have new finances .these new financial resources and their increasing relationship with the petroleum staff and political officials of the British government assisted the clan-heads to take giant leaps to exit local status and involving in the national issues and interfering in TEHRAN CONQUER fulfilled a new situation to participate in the power syntax in the national level.
Afterwards new revenue resources, political relations and achieving city governing and high-ranking state officials, gradually separated the clan-heads from their preliminary status and their life style within their tribes as far as residence and involving in Bakhtiari territory was marginalized negligible and ignoble.

Boosting relationship with the Britain and the Petroleum CO. especially after purchasing IRAN-BRITAIN Petroleum CO. by the British and happenstance of World War I, the German activities and occurrence of Russian revolution and outbreak of Bolshevism closed the Bakhtiari clan-heads to maintain their situation & the British government to maintain their benefits, particularly oil .Wherever the Petroleum Company agents and the British government faced with a serious hindrance, they would utilize the age-old conflict & competition between two major lineage ILKHANI & HAJI ILKHANI and achieved their aims .In the relationship between Bakhtiari clan-heads and the British which was improving up to the end of world war I, HAJI ILKHAN household, particularly GHOLAM HOSSEIN KHAN SARDAR MOHTASHAM and his brother NASIR KHAN, Commander of the army showed more collaboration with the British and in most cases resolved the problems & disputes.

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