It was as if I had taken a trip back in time, to one of the most disgraceful periods of contemporary Iran history. A time that saw the inefficient Qajar dynasty relinquishing vast territories to the surrounding neighbors, especially Russia, with little to show in return. Back in 1828 AD, with the help of the British, the incompetent Persian monarch, Fathali Shah, surrendered what is today known as Armenia, Nakhjevan and Talesh. Thus was the disgrace of the infamous “Turkmenchai” treaty that has been etched in all Iranians’ minds.
In 1921, between the late Reza Shah and Lenin and then in 1940, there were two treaties signed by the two states sharing this vast water resource, Iran and Russia. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union and formation of several states Iran faced a new front with the new states laying claim over the Caspian and thus a further division of each nation’s share. Iran failed to stake its claim of the bilateral treaty that originally allowed each of Tehran and Moscow about 50% of the waters and with that, it saw its share plummet to a mere 20%, as Russia refused to accept division of its share between the 4 nations.
Flash forward to the year 2010 and we stand on the threshold of yet another shameful event in which Iran may stand to lose even more territories due to the incompetence and bad policies of its ruling regime. On 18th November, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad represented Iran in the multi-state conference on Caspian region where the other heads of state from Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan were in attendance.
One of the points of discussion was to deal with the territorial divisions between the 5 nations of the Caspian waters and resources. But due to time limitations the topic was postponed to a later date. However, it does not change the fact that under the strong-arm handling of Iran by Moscow and the inability of the Ahmadinejad’s government to stand up for its rights since that may jeopardize the flimsy, occasional supportive remarks from Moscow in the UN security council, there are talks of further reducing Iran’s share from the present 20% to a paltry 11%! An affront to any sensible and fair minded person. And yet, given how the Islamic regime has bent over backwards trying to hang onto the little support it gets from the likes of China and Russia, pundits worry that we may yet concede more territories and rights.
Come the new five state conference, will Ahmadinejad stand up to the council in favor of Iran’s rights? Or will he succumb and buckle and miserably accept the new “legal regime” and relinquish precious waters of our Caspian sea?