Heir Apparent

August 4, 1956 — The Kansas City Times

The Mossadegh Project | March 22, 2021                     

Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970)

An editorial on Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970) in a Kansas City, Missouri newspaper.


THE Egyptian embassy in Washington has promptly disavowed the action of its commercial secretary who sounded out an official of our government on the possibility of American technical assistance in operating the newly-organized Suez canal. But the fact that such an inquiry was made, even on an “individual” basis, is noteworthy. For it suggests an interesting parallel with another hasty nationalization of a complex industrial property.

Back in 1951 the Parliament of Iran under the spell of Mohammed Mossadegh’s oratory voted to take over the Anglo-Iranian Oil company. Mossadegh, who became premier shortly thereafter on a wave of national enthusiasm, argued that the Iranians were perfectly capable of running the huge Abadan refinery and distributing its product, if necessary without the aid of British technicians. To put it mildly, this estimate proved overoptimistic.

The net result was a calamity for Iran—and Mossadegh. The Anglo-Iranian property had seemed a rich prize. And the British, by following an unenlightened policy under their contract with Iran, undoubtedly had helped to provoke the seizure. The Iranians, however, were not equipped to handle the business. For some two years Mossadegh’s government struggled along, deprived of its oil royalties.

Then, with the country on the verge of bankruptcy, the premier was overthrown, the moderates took over and Iranian oil began to flow back into the world market. Now Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser appears to be facing a somewhat similar dilemma. He, too, has unilaterally abrogated an international contract. He faces the necessity of operating a tremendous physical plant without assistance from the experienced foreign personnel of the old Suez Canal company.

Unless the issue of guaranteed international use of the waterway is satisfactorily settled, that could turn out as formidable a task for Egypt as the nationalized oil company did for Iran. Mossadegh tried to bull it through, by playing footsie with the Communists. [A lie] His experience might be instructive for Nasser.

Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Gholi Ardalan in 1956.

CAIRO, 1956: President Nasser shakes hands with Ali Gholi Ardalan, Iran’s Foreign Minister and a member of the Suez Committee.

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Related links:

Nasser Asks for Trouble | Cedar Rapids Gazette, Sept. 9, 1956

Trying Mossadegh’s Tactics | UPI, July 31, 1956

West’s Iran Problem Has Been Cleared Up | Spokesman Review, Feb. 20, 1956

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

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