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Mejliss, or Parliament, became more and more evident. Finally, in December of 1907 a crisis occurred. The Shah refused to dismiss the reactionary advisers who were intriguing against the Cabinet. The Ministry resigned. The Premier and several others were arrested. The deputies in the Mejliss demanded their release. Fighting broke out in the streets, between the constitutionalists and the royalists. The former appealed to the European legations. The British minister demanded the release of the Premier, who had been educated in an English university.
He was allowed to depart quietly for Europe. Violent opposition to the Government continued. After a few days, the Shah, fearing a general revolt, once more took the oath to the constitution.
Had it not been for the Anglo-Russian agreement the military faction in Russia, supported by the reactionary court clique, would probably have forced the Czar's Government to interfere on behalf of absolute monarchy. In that event the English military agitators at home and in India, in response to appeals from Persian liberals, would have urged the occupation of the southern part of the country. A conflict would have been all but inevitable.
The parliamentary victory of December had the unhappy effect of making the Mejliss overestimate its power. For several months it remained triumphant. Late in May of last year a group of discarded courtiers decided to demand the dismissal of the existing palace clique. The Mejliss seconded their demand. The Shah yielded, ostensibly, at least, and announced their dismissal on June 2. Two days later he suddenly sallied forth from the palace attended by a military escort and surrounded by the six presumably dismissed courtiers. A royalist camp was formed outside the city and rapidly grew in size. On June 16 the president of the Mejliss, attended by a committee of six, attempted to read a memorial to the Shah. The latter snatched the document, grasped the hilt of his sword, and bade them remember that his predecessors had won their power over Persia by the sword and he would maintain it by the same means if need be.
The ruling Khajar dynasty, as well as the dominant faction throughout the country, are really foreign, being descended from the Mongolian Turks who conquered the country some five or six centuries ago. The subject majority are, in the main, of the original Persian Aryan stock. The dynasty and its adherents have lost both ability and popularity.
A week after the Shah's indignant reception of the Mejliss committee royalist troops surrounded their meeting place. Many liberal leaders were seized and summarily hanged or shot. Workmen were engaged and the building was razed to the ground. Regulations were promulgated for the election of a new Mejliss to meet within three months. There was probably no intention of keeping the promise. Reactionary administrators were sent to all the provinces to reestablish the absolute régime. Revolutionary activity was resumed in various parts of the country. It was especially active in the northwest about Tabriz, the second city in importance and the chief commercial center. This has been the hotbed of constitutionalism since the movement began. For nearly three months after the coup d'état there was little change. The Shah was triumphant. The constitutionalists were cowed.
During this second crisis Great Britain and Russia, both faithful to the agreement, kept aloof, save for the expression of absolutist sympathies by certain insubordinate semiofficial Russian agents not yet in touch with the new policy under the convention.
In September it yielded its first positive results. An identical note presented by the British and Russian legations urgently recommended that the Shah redeem his promise and call an election for a new Mejliss, since the three months were nearly expired. Late in the month the Shah replied, refusing to renew the constitution until the revolution in the northwest, which was becoming more and more menacing, should be subdued.
In response to new admonitions from Russia and England, the reactionary Ministry replied in November that the Shah personally had constitutional tendencies, but that the nation was anticonstitutional. A few days later came the startling declaration that the constitution was entirely abolished, on the ground that it was contrary to the laws of Islam. The British and Russian legations immediately protested against the proclamation. The Shah weakened and ordered it to be withdrawn and all copies destroyed. On December 1 the Persian Minister for Foreign Affairs intimated to the British and Russian ministers that the Shah was willing to concede a new Mejliss. But the next day the suppressed rescript abolishing the constitution was again published. A new, strong joint note from the two legations again induced the Shah to order the rescript withdrawn.
In the meantime, fighting continued between the constitutionalists and royalists in Tabriz and the surrounding province of Azerbaijan. The British consulate at Tabriz attempted to mediate. The Shah refused to promise immunity to the deputies to the next Mejliss, or amnesty to revolutionaries. Finally, about the middle of last month it was announced that the long-threatened declaration of independence had been issued. A revolutionary republic had been set up composed of the province of Azerbaijan. The populace is rallying to its support. It is expected that other provinces will follow its example.
So far, Russia and Great Britain remain faithful to the convention and preserve a neutrality, which it seems would not have been possible had not diplomacy scored its triumph just in the nick of time.
RECALL OF MINISTERS
The recall of American diplomatic agents is a subject which has been occupying public attention recently. The practice under our Government has been to recall most of the heads of missions when the administration changes, and such a recall has no reference to the character of the services which have been rendered the Government. When the administration passes from one political party to another the changes in the service are sweeping; but when the new administration is of the same political complexion as the old a few heads of missions and many secretaries remain undisturbed. American diplomatic agents are not appointed for a specified term of office, but it is the custom for ambassadors and ministers to place their resignations in the hands of a new President soon after his inauguration. Subordinate diplomatic officers usually wait to be requested to do so before resigning. During recent years a number of secretaries have been promoted to be heads of missions, and, having performed longer diplomatic service than usually falls to the lot of American diplomatic representatives, they may with reason suppose that they have some equitable claim to continuance in the service. Whether the claim will be recognized is a question which will be answered in a few months. In law all members of the diplomatic service have their tenure of office at the pleasure of the President.
Back of the practice of recalling diplomatic agents, when an administration changes, lies the theory, often advanced to support it, that by long residence in a foreign country the agent becomes attached to it and grows lukewarm toward the interests of his own country, and that a more zealous representative is, therefore, to be found in one who comes fresh from the body of the people. In some quarters, also, there is a prejudice - which is, however, diminishing -- against the trained diplomat, in the belief that the training has been chiefly in the hollow trivialities of life and has tended to unfit him for solid usefulness. John Adams used to say that militia diplomats often accomplished more than regulars, and Thomas Jefferson, when he was President, laid down the rule that no head of mission should be permitted to serve for more than eight years. The principles involved in these two announcements still survive in America.
THE CASABLANCA INCIDENT AND ITS REFERENCE TO ARBITRATION AT
The controversy which for a time troubled the foreign offices of France and Germany, caused by the desertion and arrest on September 25, 1908, of six foreigners from the Fiench foreign legion in Morocco, and the alleged improper assistance furnished them by the German consul, is to be submitted to arbitration at The Hague. The tribunal shall find the facts, apply the law, and determine the situation of the individuals arrested. The submission to arbitration prepared by Messrs. Renault and Kriege, jurisconsults of the French and German foreign offices, was concluded November 24, 1903. The text of this important document, which, it is hoped, will be not merely a model but a precedent for the pacific settlement of international controversies, follows:
The Government of the French Republic and the Imperial German Government having agreed, November 10, 1908, to submit to arbitration all the questions raised by the events which occurred at Casablanca, September the 25th, last, the undersigned, thereunto duly authorized, have agreed upon the following compromis :
ARTICLE 1. An arbitral tribunal, constituted as hereinafter stated, is empowered to decide the questions of law and fact brought up by the events which occurred between the agents of the two countries at Casablanca, September 25 last.
Art. 2. The arbitral tribunal shall be composed of five arbitrators, chosen from among the members of the permanent court of arbitration at The Hague.
Each Government, as soon as possible and within a period not to exceed fifteen days from the date of the present compromis, shall choose two arbitrators of whom one may be its national. The four arbitrators thus chosen shall select an umpire within fifteen days from the date they are notified of their designation.
Art. 3. The 1st of February, 1909, each party shall furnish the bureau of the permanent court with eighteen copies of its mémoire, with certified copies of all papers and documents which it intends to bring up in the case. The bureau shall insure their transmission without delay to the arbitrators and parties, that is, two copies for each arbitrator, three copies for each party. Two copies shall remain in the archives of the bureau.
The 1st of April, 1909, the parties shall deposit in the same way their contremémoires (replies), with the evidence and their final conclusions.
ART. 4. Each party must deposit in the international bureau, at the latest on April 15, 1909, the sum of 8,000 Netherland florins, as an advance on the expenses of litigation.
ART. 5. The tribunal shall meet at The Hague the 1st of May, 1909, and shall immediately proceed to examine the question.
It shall have the power temporarily to proceed, or to delegate one or several of its members to proceed, to such place as seems 'necessary for the purpose of securing information under the conditions of article 20 of the convention of October 18, 1907, for the pacific settlement of international disputes.
Art. 6. The parties may use the French or German languages.
The members of the tribunal may use, as they choose, the French or German languages. The decisions of the tribunal shall be published in both languages.
ART. 7. Each party shall be represented by a special agent to serve as intermediary between it and the tribunal. These agents shall give explanations as demanded of them by the tribunal and shall present whatever methods they judge useful for the defense of their cause.
Art. 8. As to matters not provided for in the present compromis, the provisions of the aforesaid convention of October 18, 1907, which has not yet been ratified, but which has been signed by both France and Germany, shall be applicable to the present arbitration.
ART. 9. After the arbitral tribunal has decided the questions of law and fact which are submitted to it, it shall determine the situation of the individuals arrested September 25 last, in regard to which there is a dispute.
Done in duplicate at Berlin, November 24, 1908.
The tribunal has been selected and will be formed as follows: For Germany, Dr. Kriege and Mr. Fusinato; for France, Professor Louis Renault and Sir Edward Fry. These four have chosen as the fifth member and president of the tribunal, the Swedish diplomat, Knut Hjalmar von Hammarskjold. The tribunal as constituted is admirable in every respect, for although Messrs. Renault and Kriege are naturally prejudiced in favor of the interests of their countries they are jurists in the highest sense of the word, and may be relied upon to apply impartially a principle of law to the facts found. Mr. Fusinato is professor of international law, a member of the Institute, formerly minister of public instruction, and a very prominent figure at the Second Hague Conference. Sir Edward Fry was for many years a worthy and distinguished lord justice of England, experienced with international arbitration by having acted as judge of the Hague Court and having been connected with the international commission of inquiry. He was present at the Second Hague Conference and worthily represented his country.