Boris Johnson and the tricky issue of dealing with Iran
Hardliners in Tehran have long been suspicious of the British and their intentions
Britain has a special place in the Iranian psyche. And it is not a good place, as Jack Straw, the former UK foreign secretary, explains in his new book, The English Job. This “neurosis” was nurtured by the outsized power Britain exercised over Iran in the 19th and 20th centuries. It has mellowed among a young population that is favourable to Western ideas, but endures to this day within the regime and among its supporters.
In 2001, Straw was the first British foreign secretary to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. He understands more than most the country’s proud history and what drives its behaviour. But when he went on holiday there in 2015, he experienced the full force of anti-British sentiment. He writes of the colloquial sayings in everyday use: “Behind the curtain there’s always an Englishman,” is one example.