chapter  IV
35 Pages

The Search for an Accommodation: the Sipahsalar Agreement of August, 1916

In the south British forces controlled the Gulf ports and protected the oilfields, and the Bakhtiari were vaguely loyal, but in almost every major city in the south - Isfahan, Yazd, Shiraz, Kerman, Hamadan, etc. - the nationalists and Germans had succeeded in driving out the British officials and communities. The gendarmes had defected virtually to a man to the nationalists; and at Qom the exiled nationalists, Majlis deputies, government officials and enemy legations began to organize a counter government, collecting taxes, calling for support from the countryside, and fOrming an army to dispute Russian control of the north. There was a threat that this force, augmented by the gendarmes, tribes and local brigands might link up with regular Ottoman forces and in combination drive the Allies out of the country, or so the British thought. And until the Russians proved they could handle this threat in the north, and the campaign in Mesopotamia had time to work its moral charms, British officials at the Foreign Office and in Iran began to consider more formal arrangements with the Persian Government to buttress the Allied position.