In a nutshell, yes!
Following the Russian Revolution of 1917 Britain remained the sole power in Iran. Historian Professor Mohammad Gholi Majid of Princeton University in his book, "The Great Famine & Genocide in Iran: 1917-1919" (2013) cites the American Archives reported a widespread famine during WW1 and the spread of an epidemic disease estimating deaths following the British preventing important caused a famine killing around 8-10 million during the 1917-19 period, making this the greatest genocide of the 20th century and Iran the biggest victim of World War I (p.71).
"World War One was unquestionably the greatest calamity in the history of Persia, far surpassing anything that happened before. It was in WWI that Persia suffered its worst tragedy in its entire history, losing some 40% of its population to famine and disease, a calamity that was entirely due to the occupation of Persia by the Russian and British armies, and about which little is known. Persia was the greatest victim of WWI: no country had suffered so much in absolute and relative terms. As I have shown in another study there are indications that 10 million Persians were lost to starvation and disease. Persia was the victim of one of the largest genocide [sic] of the twentieth century. (M G Majd, "Persia in World War I and Its Conquest by Great Britain," 2003, pp. 3-4)
Iran had been one of the main suppliers of food grains to the British forces stationed in the empire's South Asian colonies. Although bad harvest during these two years made the situation worse, it was by no means the main reason why the Great Famine occurred. The American documents show the British prevented imports of wheat and other food grains into Iran from Mesopotamia, Asia, and also the USA. Ships loaded with wheat were not allowed to unload at the port of Bushehr in the Persian Gulf. Britain intentionally created genocide conditions to destroy Iran and to effectively control the country for its own purposes. Major Donohoe describes Iran of that time as a "land of desolation and death" whilst in his 1934 biography of the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, Harold Nicolson, who had served as a British diplomat in Iran during the 1920s, wrote:
"Persia, during the war, had been exposed to violations and sufferings not endured by any other neutral country." (Nicolson, "George Curzon: The Last Phase," 1934, p. 129)
In a memorandum of 1941, the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs at the US Department of State, Wallace Smith Murray, wrote:
"During the late World War, despite Iran's declared neutrality, she was invaded by both the Great Powers, which resulted in untold misery to the Persian people. It is estimated that during the famine of 1917-1918, caused by the chaotic conditions of the country, approximately one third of the population perished." (M G Majd, "Great Famine & Genocide in Iran,"p. 8)
But this event soon became the subject of a British cover up. The documents published by the British government overlook the genocide, and consequently, the tragedy underwent an attempted cover-up by the British government. The Foreign Office "handbook on Iran" of 1919 mentioned nothing related to the Great Famine.
Britain's role in Iran's Great famine, which killed nearly half of Iran's population, however was not unprecedented - similar examples appear in regions like India, Bengal and Ireland.
Economic policies: The British government implemented a series of economic policies in Iran during World War I that are believed to have contributed to the famine. These policies included the imposition of high taxes on agricultural products and the restriction of exports, which reduced the amount of food available in the country.
Military occupation: The British military occupied parts of Iran during World War I and requisitioned food and other resources for the war effort, which reduced the amount of food available to the local population.
Blockade of food imports: The British government also imposed a blockade on food imports to Iran, which prevented the country from importing food from other sources.
Inflation: The economic policies and actions of the British government contributed to inflation in Iran, which made food more expensive and less accessible for the population.
Drought: Drought and environmental factors also played a role in the famine, as the country experienced a prolonged period of dryness that reduced crop yields.
Mismanagement: Some historians argue that the famine was also the result of mismanagement by the Iranian government, which failed to adequately address the food shortages and provide aid to those in need.
In conclusion, the famine that occurred in Iran during World War I was a complex and multi-faceted disaster that was caused by a combination of economic policies, military actions, environmental factors, and mismanagement. While some historians argue that the British government played a significant role in causing and exacerbating the famine, it is important to recognize the complexity of the situation and the many factors that contributed to the disaster.
Here are some references for the information provided above about the famine in Iran during World War I:
"The Great Famine and Genocide in Persia, 1917-1919" by Mohammad Gholi Majd: This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the famine and its causes, including the role of the British government and its economic policies in Iran.
"The Great Famine and Genocide in Persia, 1917-1919: Revisited" by Mohammad Gholi Majd: This article provides an update to the book mentioned above and includes additional research on the famine and its causes.
"The Persian Famine of 1917-1919: A New Perspective" by Mark J. Gasiorowski: This article provides a different perspective on the famine, arguing that the British government's economic policies and actions in Iran did not play a significant role in causing the disaster.
"The Famine in Iran, 1917-1919" by Amir Arjomand: This article provides a brief overview of the famine and its causes, including the role of the British government and its economic policies in Iran.
"The Great Famine in Iran (1917-1919): A New Approach to an Old Tragedy" by Touraj Atabaki: This article provides an in-depth analysis of the famine and its causes, including the role of the British government and its economic policies in Iran. It also discusses the impact of the famine on the Iranian population and its lasting effects on the country.
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