Relations were strained ahead of the 1907 Anglo-Russian convention, and the sore points were Persia and Afghanistan
Friday August 31, 2007
".......And an important anniversary also has contemporary resonances: today is the centenary of the Anglo-Russian convention of August 31 1907. Relations between the two countries are strained at present, and the Russian government is very unpopular here, as it was 100 years ago, but the issues that the agreement addressed - Persia and Afghanistan, as well as Tibet - are eerily topical. If Sir Edward Grey, the great foreign secretary who negotiated the agreement with Russia, had been told that Persia - now called Iran - would come to be seen as one of the gravest threats to international peace, and that British troops would be fighting in Afghanistan on the centenary of his pact, he would have been perplexed, and more than a little depressed.......
One of the mysteries of our age is why Nato remained in existence at all after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its empire, let alone why Nato's reach was expanded to the Gulf of Riga and the Persian Gulf as an undisguised agent of American policy, rather than a pact for mutual aid, which allowed the members, as the original Nato treaty said, to take necessary collective action, "including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the north Atlantic area". Quite how that covers the "record drug seizure in Afghanistan" which Nato's website boasted late last year (prematurely, as it may seem) is as yet unexplained.
Another unintended consequence of the 1907 convention was the future of Persia-now-Iran. Writing in this newspaper (then the Manchester Guardian) on the 50th anniversary of the agreement, AJP Taylor said glibly that its work had ensured "the buffer states of Asia survive. Tibet is safe from Russia or the British empire [though not from China]. Afghanistan is still neutral and independent [no more]. Most remarkable of all, Persia still defies imperialist encroachment from every quarter." Since that was written in 1957, only four years after the Anglo-American coup in Tehran that restored the Shah, it was surprisingly obtuse; and Iranian resentment of outside interference goes back not just to 1953 but to 1907......."