TEHRAN (Iran News) – If we take a look back at the history especially in the 16th and 17th centuries, we realize the most famous sea pirates have been British and even the famous Hollywood movie the Pirates of the Caribbean has been inspired by the history of the British pirates.
The most famous pirate of them all was probably Edward Teach, more commonly known as Blackbeard. Blackbeard was born in Bristol and started his career as a crew member for the pirate Benjamin Hornigold. He looked like a devil who had stepped right out of hell and onto a pirate ship and most of his victims simply surrendered their cargo rather than fight him.
Now after almost four centuries, it seems the British have not quit their bad habit and they still continue piracy but in a modern and sophisticated style by taking hostage and freezing the assets of countries under different pretexts.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the victims of the British piracy as the country’s money has been blocked in the UK despite the court’s order for its return. Britain owes as much as £450m to Iran arising from the non-delivery of Chieftain tanks ordered by Iran’s former monarchical regime. An international arbitration in 2008 ruled the UK owed the debt.
Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Britain and Iran had relatively close relations, with Britain offering support to the Persian state in exchange for concessions in sectors such as oil and banking.
The relationship was bumpy at times: in 1953, Britain urged the CIA to carry out a coup against the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, who had nationalized the oil industry.
From 1971 to 1976, the ex-Shah of Iran – faced with the rise of Arab nationalists in Iraq and elsewhere – turned to Britain for a large order of tanks: 1,500 Chieftain battle tanks and 250 repair vehicles in total.
The bill added up to £650m, and the Shah paid it up front, rather than on delivery. Britain managed to deliver 185 tanks to Tehran before history got in the way. Then came 1979, the Shah’s exile and the creation of the modern Islamic Republic of Iran. Relations between London and Tehran went south quickly, with Britain suspending all diplomatic relations. The Islamic Republic of Iran was no longer an ally of the United Kingdom, and it was no longer reasonable to send state-of-the art tanks there. And therefore, British habit of piracy revealed itself once again.
In September 2020, the British Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace, for the first time acknowledged that he is actively seeking to pay a debt to the Iranian government. The UK is thought to owe as much as £450m to the Iranian government arising from the non-delivery of Chieftain tanks ordered by the Shah of Iran before his overthrow in 1979.
An international arbitration in 2008 ruled the UK owed the debt, but in subsequent protracted court battles, lawyers acting for International Military Services, the Ministry of Defense’s now-defunct arms sales agency, have questioned not only the debt’s size, but at times whether any debt was payable.
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in meeting with the new British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss once again urged that the UK take action towards repaying its debt towards Iran.
Rebuilding of the bilateral ties took serious action, Amir-Abdollahian asserted, urging London to note that taking such action on its obligations constituted the only means of reconstructing the relations.
Tehran responds proportionately to any positive and constructive step, he, meanwhile, pledged. The British official, for her part, alleged that the UK was prepared to repay the debt.
But it is not the first time that the British statesmen announce readiness for repaying the debt but each time they have refrained from paying due different baseless pretexts like the U.S sanctions.
The British should stop their habit of piracy and respect the international norms and laws and they should not forget this fact that the end of the hit-and-run is over and the Islamic Republic of Iran is not like the Shah’s era and it will fight for any bit of its rights. They should now this fact that Iranians historically have no positive approach or trust to the British and they used to blame the British for any incident in the country.
So if the British want to win Iranian’s trust, they should first repay their debts and stop following the U.S.’s wrong policy of sanctions because it is useless and the West and especially the U.S. and UK will see its backlash in the future as the Islamic Republic is determined to stand against any hegemonic and hit-and-run policy.