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Nobody's Periphery: Pahlavi Iran and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

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Join us for the inaugural Zahedi Family Fellow lecture.

"Pahlavi Iran, alongside Turkey, was a rare case of a Muslim-majority state to have consistent relations with Israel. Much of existing literature often discusses this as an aspect of Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s Policy of Periphery. But the Shah’s relations with Israel were in line with his foreign policy conception of “National Independent Policy” and part of a careful balancing act that aimed to stake out a unique place for Iran in the global Cold War. Following the 1967 war, the Shah publicly criticized Israel and demanded its withdrawal from the occupied territories while Iran also maintained clandestine ties to the PLO and restored its ties to the leading Arab nation of Egypt. The Shah’s vision of Iran as a Muslim country and his opposition to remnants of European colonialism also motivated Iran’s policy in this era.  
Basing itself on a study of the Ardeshir Zahedi papers at the Hoover Library & Archives—which include accounts of Iran’s diplomatic meetings with countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia—this study attempts to flesh out the formation and execution of Iranian policy on the Arab- and Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the 1967-79 period."

Arash Azizi, a PhD candidate in History and Middle Eastern Studies at New York University (NYU), will be the first Zahedi Family Fellow at Stanford University, joining in spring 2022. His dissertation charts the history of Communist internationalism in the Middle East as part of the Global Cold War. Focusing on the ties between the Communist parties of Iran and Iraq, the dissertation looks at their transnational collaboration, their unique stance on Israel/Palestine and their rivalry with the New Left and Islamists. It looks to show how the Cold War was waged in the Middle East, not only by distant superpowers but by local actors such as the communists and their opponents such as the Shah of Iran.

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