25/12/1915 Persia: Ahmed Shah decides to side with Russia and Britain

King Ahmed Shah of Persia has been toying with the idea of throwing his lot in with Germany and its allies. His country is notionally independent but in practice divided into spheres of influence by Russia and Britain. Perhaps with German help Persia could become truly independent once more.

The Allies were less than pleased with Ahmed Shah’s German intrigues. British and Russian diplomats have warned Ahmed Shah to expel German and Turkish agents from his country. To make the point in a more forceful manner, Russia has marched an army to Teheran, where they have defeated a force of pro-German Persians.

Ahmed Shah had sent leading officials from his court to the holy city of Qom, less accessible to Russian forces. Perhaps the young king had planned to join them there, emulating the flight to Medina of the Prophet Muhammed. But he demurs and decides against confronting the Allies. Instead of fleeing to Qom, Ahmed Shah appoints Prince Firman Firma as prime minister. The new prime minister is reliably pro-Allied; he sets to work chasing German and Turkish agents out of the country.

Ahmed Shah’s decision to row in with Russia and Britain may have been motivated by more than just caution. Faraway Germany is not really in much of a position to supply him with active assistance. The Turks are closer, but their ability to help is also limited. And in any case, while the Germans may genuinely want to advance the independence of Persia, Ahmed Shah knows that the Turks would prefer to dominate his country. In siding with them he could just be exchanging one set of masters for another.

image sources:

map (Fouman: Iranian History)

Ahmed Shah (Wikipedia)

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