Mossadegh and the Legacy of the Non – Aligned Movement

One of the first — if not the first — Third World leaders to challenge the legitimacy of the rights and contracts of colonial powers, Mohammad Mossadegh (1882-1967) was the champion of Iranian anti-colonial nationalism and represented a generation of anti-colonial nationalists who transformed the world. But, on the heels of a century of Qajar Dynasty mis – management and political turmoil in Iran as well as decades of British exploitation of Iranian oil resources, a groundswell of nationalism captured the country with Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh – the “Patriot of Persia” – as the physical manifestation of this movement. It is widely acknowledged by analysts that had Mossadegh been allowed to be in office, he would have been a natural ally of the Non-Aligned Movement, perhaps one of its founding figures. Some even contend that the coup against Mossadegh was one of the pivots behind the rallying of prominent global anti colonial leaders like Yugoslavia’s President Josip Broz Tito, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ghanian President Kwame Nkrumah and Indonesian President Sukarno and the subsequent genesis of the Non Aligned Movement in 1961 in Belgrade.
Mossadegh was one of the prominent global leaders who took a firm stand on anti-colonialim and led the Iranian movement against the British colonialism achieving the nationalization of Iranian oil. He firmly believed in the concepts of nation building and modernization, envisioning a free and democratic Iran. He sought to do this by ending the control of Iran’s oil reserves by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), owned by the British government, which refused Iran any significant share of the high profits from oil. In 1951, with the unanimous support of the Iranian parliament, Prime Minister Mossadegh nationalized AIOC, now known as BP (British Petroleum). The nationalization created an international dispute, causing the British to sanction Iran economically and even threaten with war. Mossadegh travelled to the United Nations and made a plea to the Security Council for what he thought constitutionally belonged to the Iranian people. This led to him gracing the cover of Time Magazine as ‘Man of the Year’. Thus, through his actions, Mossaddegh had set a precedent that the voices of the developing world against exploitation by the developing countries- could now be heard on international forums such as the UN. In current times, it is the Non Aligned Movement which is carrying this legacy of Mossadegh further as the representative of the collective voice of the global South.
Mohammad Mossadegh’s actions were motivated by a selfless dedication to improving the living conditions of the people his democratically elected government had the responsibility to serve. Accordingly, he courageously resisted the entreaties of special interest. Brief years of his rule have had a deep and long lasting significance as championing the cause of inclusive democracy, his was the most determined attempt ever seen in Iran to create a government upheld by popular support and to use it in order to obtain not simply an improved position within the imperial system but complete independence. In this regard, his ideology can be termed as a precursor to the Non Aligned Movement’s ideology of anti-colonialism and struggle against exploitation of an underdeveloped country. Through his peaceful resistance and Gandhi-like revolution, Mossadegh took a stand for Iran’s nationality, economic stability, freedom and democracy. Mossadegh without shedding a drop of blood kept the multi-ethnic region in peace and united as Iran. These actions bear stark resemblance to the NAM’s philosophy of peaceful coexistence and the principle of non-aggression.
Mossadegh stood for democracy, national independence and social justice and was unswerving in his fight for these principles as an embodiment of the genuine aspirations of the third world people for progress, justice and democracy and his legacy still lives on today, in demonstrations and protests not only in Iran but in the developing world fighting for its legitimate rights.. His face is adorned on posters, and his memory is indelibly imprinted in the minds of those who knew and respected him for his courageous stance in the face of powerful interests and adversity. Mossadegh’s legacy still lives on today, in demonstrations and protests around the country. His face is adorned on posters, and his memory is indelibly imprinted in the minds of those who knew and respected him for his courageous stance in the face of powerful interests and adversity.

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