Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Soviet Moves For Mastery Of The Middle East, India

By  DR. EMERY BARCS  1947-3-27

SYDNEY MORRELL, UNRRA's Associate Director for Public Information for Europe, is a versatile British foreign correspondent.

He had varied war service as an adviser on psychological warfare to the American Army and as director of the Overseas Branch of the United States Office of War Information. He was  stationed in Iran, Greece, Yugoslavia and Italy, and saw from inside the struggle between Russia and the Western Democracies for influence in these countries. Morell doesn't mince words in describing the mistakes committed by Britain and America.  He also has firm views on the intentions of the new Soviet imperialism in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

The subtle competition was most obvious in Iran, occupied during the war by the three Allies, Britain, the United States and Russia.  According to Morell one of the most disappointing facts of  this three-power occupation  was that no real comradeship existed among  the troops of the three countries.

 On lonely airfields he said,  scores of miles from civilisation, American and British troops has separate establishments, lived separate communal lives, carried on old prejudices.  British and American garrisons in the same towns lived in splendid isolation.  Occasionally, British and American fliers  and  men met and spoke to each other. The Russians were completely isolated from both, Red Army soldiers were not allowed to mix.  Even if the ban had been lifted, the language problem would have put an insurmountable barrier between them.

Morrell admits that British propaganda and diplomacy were more adroit in Iran than either American or Russian.  The Americans didn't care much and the Russians were too heavy-handed. Especially British liaison officers to Iranian tribes did good jobs in keeping up friendships. Some of them had strange experiences with the tribal chieftans.

Once, a British liason officer with the Quashgai tribe had to carry out negotiations with the chief of the tribe,  Nassa Khan. Squatting on the carpet inside Nassa Khan's tent, the cfficer produced the supply of drugs he had brought with him as a gift. There were the usual supplies of aspirin, empirin, laxatives, atabrine, and, finally, a simple supply of sulfanilamid. "This," the officer explained, with the customary awe-inspiring preliminary, "is the latest miracle drug that cured Mr. ChurchiII when he was taken ill on his way home from the conference in Teheran." Nassa Khan nodded  his head solemnly. "In that event," he pronounced, we will name it   Churchill Drug.''

Power politics and scheming is easy in this dagger-drawn atmosphere where everybody is everybody's  enemy and almost any man and woman can be bought.  The great clash in Iran is between Britain and the Soviet Union. Oil is not the main source of antagonism. The Russians want to get to the Persian Gulf to obtain a warm sea port.

But If they succeed, nobody can stop them grabbing the Iraq oilfields and occupying the "great Middle East Quadrangle," possession of which means the mastery of the Near East and India. This quadrangle is marked by the cities of Astrakhan in Russla, Teheran in Iran, Basra in Iraq, and Aleppo in Syria.  Russian foreign policy is moving skilfully towards these goals.

Iraq, Iran, and Syria are those vital spots of the Middle East where, according to Morell, Britain has been compelled  to retreat into the defensive in front of revived Russian imperialism. Another spot, says the author, is Greece, where the exreme leftist elements are in a minority, but entirely under Russian influence and well organised and well equipped.

If Britain had not arrived in time this minority would have grabbed power and established another Russian satellite State in the Balkans. Morrell believes that the present regime, although not entirely democratic, has the great majority of the Greek people behind it. The Greek Communist Party, the K.K.E., which dominates the former leftist guerilla organisation, E A M., has only a few followers, and, if it were not helped from outside, its part in Greek politics would be that of a small minority opposition party.

Morrel blames Allied politics for the tragedy of General Mikhailovich, the Chetnik leader, who was executed by the Tito Government. He says that, originally, Mikhailovioh wanted to fight the Germans, but received orders from Allied headquarters to organise his forces and wait. Britain and America did not wish to jeopardize the possibility of a large-scale uprising in Yugoslavia by a premature Chetnik revolt,  Mikhailovich,  a soldier a who understood what discipline was, did not move.

In the mean-time the Communist gangs, organised by Tito. waged an  all-out guerilla war against the Germans and Italians.  Thus, the Yugoslav people, which did not know the real reason behind the passivity of the Chetniks, flocked into Tito's camp. When the Allies realised the danger in this Communist-organised resistance front they ordered Mikhailovich to fight the Axis. By then it was too late.

Tito wanted power himself and had his own scheme for post-war Yugoslavia. Political differences led to clashes between the two groups and resulted in battles between the Chetniks and the Titoists. Morrell blames inadequate British intelligence for the failure to understand the Issues in Yugoslavia. Britain and America awoke too late to see what was going on behind the iron curtain of Tito's headquarters. When they realised the issues, Yugoslavia was firmly in the hands of Moscow's allies.

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