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Muhammad Mussadegh

Mussadegh, Muhammad (mōhämˈmäd mōˈsädāg) [key], 1880–1967, Iranian political leader, prime minister of Iran (1951–53). He held a variety of government posts (1914–25) but retired to private life in protest against the shah's assumption of dictatorial powers in 1925. He returned to government (1944) as a member of parliament and quickly established himself as an opponent of foreign interference in Iranian affairs. He successfully fought Soviet attempts to exploit the oil fields of N Iran and led the movement to nationalize the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. He became immensely popular, and after parliament passed his oil nationalization act (1951), the shah was forced to appoint him prime minister. Mussadegh's refusal to negotiate a settlement with the British alienated the shah and members of Iran's ruling class. A political crisis developed; the shah openly opposed him and, after trying (1952) to oust Mussadegh, was forced into temporary exile. In Aug., 1953, Mussadegh's government was overthrown by the shah's supporters with CIA aid. After serving three years in prison, Mussadegh spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

See S. Kinzer, All the Shah's Men (2003); C. de Bellaigue, Patriot of Persia (2012).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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