Between Abadan and Suez: The Rise of Mossadeghism and the Anti-Colonial Struggle in Egypt

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University of Texas at Austin
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Lior Sternfeld holds a B.A. (Magna Cum Laude) in Middle East Studies and Jewish History, and an M.A. in Middle East Studies, the subject of his thesis being : “Between Abadan and Suez: The Emergence of ‘Mossadeghism’ and the Anti-Colonial Struggle in Egypt.” He is currently a PhD candidate at the Department of History, University of Texas at Austin.

The period of power of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, Iran’s democratically-elected Prime Minister in 1951-1953, has been—up to the present moment—studied as a distinctively Iranian affair.  While acknowledging the importance of previous scholarship on the topic, my proposed paper examines the ways in which Mossadegh’s policies and the crisis they precipitated helped to inspire the nationalist anti-colonial struggle against the British in Egypt. By drawing on works that read metropolitan and colonial cultures together, and on Persian, Arabic and British archival and media sources, I demonstrate that the spirit of “Mossadeghism” inspired Egyptian nationalist politics in the 1950s, leading to and through Nasser’s fateful nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956. Mossadegh, who had established a nationalist anti-colonial movement in Iran, also left an impressive imprint on national politics in Egypt.
A new word has come into Arabic recently—tafris—to describe Iran’s purported endeavor to achieve domination of the Arab Middle East. Reflecting mainly Egypt’s fear of Iran’s motivations in the Arab Middle East, this word is currently used in a negative sense. In my proposed paper I thus deal with an earlier period of Tafris, a period when Egypt’s nationalist leaders had seen the extension of Iranian influence in their country in a different, more positive light. This was the period of “Mossadeghism” in the 1950s.

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