Russian troops on the move! Turkey would fight to the last man! United States would back Iran! People talk of another war! Let us try to explain a little of this action of Russian. In order to get a good understanding of the Russian moves, the reader should familiarize himself with the map of the Middle East. Russia desires here to bring her in direct conflict with Iran and Turkey but it may be said at once that it is more than a dispute among these three; it rather boils down to a direct clash between two powers–Great Britain and Russia–for both of these seek control in the Middle East or roughly speaking, the area between the following bodies of water: Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea. A glance at the map tells us that this area has strategic value for it is somewhat of a “bridge” between Europe and Asia and it was used for just that during World War II for in 1942 the British, American, and Soviet troops moved into Iran for the purpose of opening and protecting a supply route for lease-lend material from the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea to Russia. According to agreement Russian troops took the northern part (Azerbaijan), the province that revolted and is now under Russian domination, while American and British troops were stationed in southern Iran and all three powers agreed to have all troops leave six months after the war, that date being March 2. The U. S. left early. Great Britain shortly before the dead line, but Russia did not leave and refuses to leave, so she did not live up to the treaty terms.
Naturally the Iranian government charges that Russia encouraged the rebellion in Azerbaijan and became very much provoked when the Russian troops prevented the Iranian troops from entering in order to stop the revolt. Russia justifies her action in northern Iran by saying the people there are related to the people living in southern Russian and that the people were also kept in a backward condition so that the revolt was but a natural outcome of this situation.
Probably the most important reason for Russian moves in Iran is her desire to obtain oil. Iran is a great producer of oil and has given Great Britain a lion’s share of the output. Russia claims this to be rank favoritism for why should she not receive an equal amount of oil? Many observers think that this desire for oil is at the bottom of the Russian moves and even suggest that if Great Britain would share Iranian oil with Russia, it would quickly relieve the situation. However, Iran finds two great powers competing for her valuable resource-two powers interfering with her affairs.
Turkey also fears Russia, stating rather openly that Russia is after territory. Why? The answer is the Dardanelles’ Straits thru which Russian ships must pass in order to go from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Russia feels that she is cut off the sea! Turkey has held these straits for a long time and controls the passage of ships thru them today. In wartime Turkey has the right to close the straits to war-ships belonging to nations at war and she may close them to all ships if she thinks she herself is in danger. Russia demands a larger share in the control of these straits. Turkey fears Russia will grab some territory for this purpose.
Therefore, the Russian situation in the Middle East includes her aim to get an outlet in the south, influence here equal to that of Britain, equal share of resources, and a piece of Turkish territory or bases near the Dardanelles or both to protect her water route to the Mediterranean Sea.
The land of 400 million people, is asking for independence from Great Britain. There are 260 million Hindus and 295 Moslems, both asking for independence. The difficulty comes in the fact that these two groups openly hate each other. The Moslems especially, fear the Hindus and anticipate war when independence is granted to India. How can England satisfy both groups? One would not expect her to free India with millions opposing each other and yet Great Britain has expressed her willingness to grant India her independence. Could this be true under present situations? There must be strings attached to such an expression for anyone knows that to grant India her independence now would mean to open up a Civil war there among the millions and millions of Indians. England would certainly not allow this. Besides, India is having one of the worst famines in history which probably will cost the lives of five to ten million people this year. England will first have to work out a plan wherein these opposing groups settle their differences before becoming independent.