The London Times4 April 1919

PERSIAN AMBITIONS

CLOSER RELATIONS WITH GREAT BRITAIN.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

TEHERAN. MARCH 22 (delayed).
There is much loose speculation here about possible awards by the Peace Conference in favour of Persia. The newspapers publish fantastic estimates of the damage done by the belligerent forces and dreams of extended dominion over regions which Persia has neither the capacity, the arms, nor the resources to govern. General approbation is expressed of the friendly behaviour of the British troops in Persia, and the trend of public opinion generally is towards closer relations with Great Britain. Meantime the Cabinet is struggling to make headway with internal affairs. Experienced governors have been sent to troublesome provinces and efforts made to provide them with the means to enforce their authority. Discarding the old dread of Russian dominance, the Government is making more use of the Cossack Division, and is also organizing a central brigade under some of the Gendarmerie personnel as the nucleus of a uniform force. The South Persia Rifles, the force raised by Sir Percy Sykes, are retained at Fars in reduced numbers, pending their transfer to the Persian Government. No sign is yet apparent of any systematic plan to remedy the extravagance and venality admittedly rife throughout the public services. True, elections are proceeding, and a Mejlissmay assemble nominally competent to deal with such questions, and the Cabinet perhaps expects to find in it the strength and perseverance needed to enforce reform despite prejudice and corruption. But Persian Assemblies have not yet learnt to voice or impose the real desires of the people and hitherto have been fickle and short-lived. The Allied Consuls at Tabriz have resumed their duties, which were suspended by the Turkish occupation. The province submits to Persian rule, although the local Government lacks strength to repress tribal and factional disorders, and a section of the Turkish-speaking population retains a furitive desire for union with Caucasian Azerbaijan. The thorny question of the resettlement of the Assyrian and Armenian refugees from the Urmia region is becoming urgent. It is estimated that about 2,000 stayed on under the Turks, but 13,000 are still in Mesopotamia, 5,000 at Hamadan and Kasvin, while 1,000 have already arrived at Tabriz and are filtering back to their homes. Firm measures are necessary to regulate the restitution of property and to repress strife. The Kurdish chief Simko heads a movement to prevent their return. The Jungalis of Gilan still refuse submission to the Government, despite patient negotiations, and the situation has reached the point where sterner measures may be necessary to restore the allegiance of that province. Three noted brigands, Rejebali, Jafarkuli, and Rezajuzdani, are still marauding in the Isfahan and Yezd provinces, but the Bakhtiap Governor of Isfahan has given an undertaking to end their activities at an early date.



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