A Hero’s Welcome

Ebrahim Norouzi & Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | February 18, 2011                       

Mossadegh in Egypt In 1951, the anti-colonial phenomenon known as ‘Mossadeghism’ was at a high. Iranian Premier Mohammad Mossadegh was generating worldwide attention during his six week stay in the United States, where he defended Iran’s oil nationalization at the U.N. and met with President Truman and other American officials. Before returning home, he had one last stop — Cairo.

Iran’s struggle with Britain over its oil resources had inspired many neighboring nations, and nowhere was this more evident than in Egypt, which was embroiled in a contest of its own with the British over control of the Suez Canal. And so, at the invitation of Egyptian prime minister Mustafa el-Nahas Pasha, Mossadegh topped his journey with a four day visit to the North African country.

On November 19, 1951, Mossadegh stepped off the plane at Farouk Airport to the applause of a huge crowd of admiring Egyptians. Chanting “Long live Mossadegh” and “Long live the leader of anti-imperialism”, the people carried him off to his car, taking him directly to Abdin Palace to sign the royal register, where another crowd estimated at 20,000 waited to greet him in its square. “Mossadegh has won freedom and dignity for his country” wrote Al-Ahram, and “Iran and Egypt have taken up the sacred duty of freeing themselves from the shackles of colonialism”. 1

Farouk Airport

Supporters at Farouk Airport. Banner in both Farsi and Arabic reads:
“Long Live Mossadegh, the Warrior Friend of Egypt”.

Iran’s defiance of British hegemony had emboldened the nationalist surge in Egypt already underway. Nahas Pasha had recently asked the Egyptian parliament to abrogate a 1936 treaty that had given the British control of the prized Suez waterway. At the time of his visit, the anti-British, pro-Mossadegh crowds filling the streets of Cairo were reported to number around two million.

Egyptians for Mossadegh
Egyptians filled the streets of Cairo for Mossadegh’s arrival.

Nahas Pasha and Mossadegh Although several ministers were present at the airport to greet Mossadegh, Premier Pasha himself, strangely, was not. Mossadegh was displeased, according to son Dr. Gholam-Hossein Mossadegh.

When he and his father arrived at the hotel, his father was told that Pasha had come to greet him. Still annoyed by his absence at the airport, Mossadegh went directly to his room, using the excuse of fatigue. He then accepted Pasha while lying down on his bed.

Nahas Pasha welcomed Mossadegh to Egypt and kissed his hand. The roaring crowd and sounds of “Long live Mossadegh” in the street prompted Pasha, speaking in French, to invite Mossadegh to the balcony to greet the people gathered to see him. When Mossadegh saw the highly jubilant crowd, he excitedly told Pasha, “Brother, with these people you must push the British out from the Suez canal”.2

Mossadegh with Prime Minister Nahas Pasha
Mossadegh with Prime Minister Nahas Pasha (left) and unidentified man.

Later in his trip, Mossadegh also met with King Farouk, feminist leader Doria Shafik, and the entire cabinet of the Egyptian Parliament. In addition to a gala dinner in his honor, he received an honorary doctorate at Fouad University. In his acceptance speech, Mossadegh explained the significance of removing the foreign presence from Abadan.

“We have not nationalized our oil industry only for commercial interest and the amount of revenue it brings to us”, he remarked. “The fact is that as long as the former oil company continues to operate [in Iran], our independence will remain severely tarnished.”3

Fouad University

Mossadegh capped his trip with a friendship treaty, signed jointly with Premier Pasha, stating that ‘A united Egypt and Iran can destroy British Imperialism’. He left Cairo on November 23, 1951.

After a 47 day sojourn, Mossadegh and his entourage arrived home in Tehran, welcomed by tens of thousands of their countrymen. Though Mossadegh’s popularity was soaring, there would soon be new setbacks for his government.

Three months after his visit, the U.S. State Department announced its refusal of a $120 million loan that Mossadegh had requested for Iran while in Washington. Two months after that, in May 1951, new Assistant Secretary of State Henry Byroade visited Mossadegh and bluntly told him that so long as Iran does not make full use of her own resources, America would not help beyond what she receives through Point Four [Truman’s technical assistance program].4

60 years onward, in 2011, the two ancient cultures continue to experience turmoil and instability in their lands. Today, Iran’s freedom fighters bravely persevere in the face of draconian punishment from a homicidal theocratic regime. And in Egypt, Mubarak’s authoritarian military dictatorship was finally pushed out by the Egyptian people in eighteen consecutive days of popular protest.

The uprising, echoing the 1979 Iranian revolution which removed another US-supported dictator’s three decades of rule, along with other democratic outbursts in the Middle East, remind us of this inevitable truth — Freedom and Independence are basic human values that cannot be denied.

All quotes translated by Ebrahim Norouzi, MD. © The Mossadegh Project


1 Colonel Gholam-Reza Nejati, MOSSADEGH, Years of Struggle and Resistance, Volume I
2 Gholam-Hossein Mossadegh M.D, In the Company of My Father, Mossadegh (translated by Ebrahim Norouzi, MD)
3 Bahram Afrasiabi, Mossadegh and History (translated by Ebrahim Norouzi, MD)
4 L.P. Elwell-Sutton, PERSIAN OIL, A Study in Power Politics


Related links:

Sec. of State John Kerry’s Historic Iran Deal: Smart Diplomacy of Appeasement?

Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders on Iran, U.S. Foreign Policy

House of Commons Ponders Apology For 1953 Coup In Iran

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Tumblr   Instagram