By: Mir M.Hosseini
During Mozaffaroddin Shah's visit to England in August 1902, he asked for The Order of Garter which had been given to Naseroddin Shah by Queen Victoria in 1873. King Edward VII primarily refused to grant it to a Muslim fearing that it will arouse the jealousy of Constantinople. After the Shah left England unhappy, the British changed their mind. On the same day that the British planned to bestow the Order of Garter to Mozaffaroddin Shah during a ceremony in Tehran, Russians announced that a commercial convention signed on Oct, 27, 1901 would come into force on Feb, 14, 1903, a cold shower for England.
According to this new convention, Iran's tariffs on Russian goods that were set at a %5 in the infamous Turkmenchai Treaty in 1828 were reduced in half in favor of Russian trade. On the other hand, Iran's main exports which were wheat and barley were charged %13½ and %25 respectively while tariffs of Russian sugar and petrol became %2¼ and %1½ respectively. The convention not only damaged Iran's exports but also harmed British trade so that duties on piece goods from England were raised to %9 while there was a %10 duty on tea that came from the Indian colony. This Russian trade victory somehow outraged the board of trade in London and turned Iran into a scene of backstage competitions mainly between Russia and UK.
However, the Qajar court was too corrupt to use this condition in favor of Iranians and bribing officials for concessions became a tradition in the Iranian administration ever since.
Little by little, Russians undermined the state of Persia so effectively that it was never supposed to recover. During the World War I, Iran was the battleground of Turkish, Russian and British forces and if it wasn't for the constitutional movement, the German card that was played with ingenuity together with the Bolshevik revolution, Iran would have only become a jungle of small emirates and khanates after the WWII.