Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq
Symbol of Iranian Nationalism and Struggle Against Imperialism
Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq
An eccentric European-educated lawyer whose father was a bureaucrat and whose mother descended from Qajar kings, was born in 1881. Dr. Mosaddeq served as a minister and governor before he opposed Reza Shah's accession in the 1920's.
He was imprisoned and then put under house arrest at his estate in the walled village of Ahmadabad west of Tehran. Eventually he bought the village, growing crops, founding an elementary school and beginning a public health project.
When Britain and Russia forced Reza Shah from power in favour of his son, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, in 1941, Dr. Mosaddeq became a member of Parliament. He was hailed as a hero for his fiery speeches on the evils of British control of Iran's oil industry. In 1951, when Parliament voted for Oil Nationalization, the young shah, recognizing the nationalists' popularity, appointed Dr. Mosaddeq prime minister.
He amassed power. When the shah refused his demand for control of the armed forces in 1952, Dr. Mosaddeq resigned, only to be reinstated in the face of popular riots.
He then displayed a streak of authoritarianism, bypassing Parliament by conducting a national referendum to win approval for its dissolution. Meanwhile, the United States became alarmed at the strength of Iran's Communist Party, which supported Dr. Mosaddeq.
In August 1953, a dismissal attempt by the shah sent Dr. Mosaddeq's followers into the streets. The shah fled, amid fears in the new Eisenhower administration that Iran might move too close to Moscow.
Dr. Mossadeq entering court for his trial.
Yet Dr. Mosaddeq did not promote the interests of the Communists, though he drew on their support. Paradoxically, the party turned from him in the end because it viewed him as insufficiently committed and too close to the United States. By the time the royalist coup overthrew him after a few chaotic days, he had alienated many landowners, clerics and merchants.
After a trial, he served three years in prison and ended up under house arrest at his estate. In March 1967, in his mid-80's and weakened by radium treatments for throat cancer, he died.
In the developing world Dr. Mosaddeq became an icon of anti-imperialism.