SAIFPOUR FATEMI, Nasrollah (Naṣr-Allah Saifpur Fāṭemi, b. 16 June 1909, Nāʾin; d. 23 March 1990, New York), journalist, political figure, and university professor.

Saifpour Fatemi was born into a landowning family in Nāʾin. His father was a prominent clergyman and held the title of sayf-al-ʿolamāʾ (Sword of the learned), conferred on him by the Qajar king Moẓaffar-al-Din Shah. Saifpour Fatemi began his early education first in a maktab  and then in a school in Nāʾin, and continued his education at the Stuart Memorial College in Esfahan (N. Saifpour Fatemi, 1989, pp. 551-52; see also Great Britain xv. British Schools in Persia). Soon after graduation, he was assigned a teaching position in the Stuart Memorial College and began translating articles from English into Persian. His translation of a part of Edward G. Browne’s A Literary History of Persia appeared in installments in the newspaper ʿErfān , founded in 1927 by Aḥmad Marāḡaʾi ʿErfān (1894-1951) in Esfahan.

In 1933 in Isfahan Saifpur Fatemi established Bāḵtar, a weekly magazine of literary and cultural research, with Amirqoli Amini as its editor. Moḥammad-Taqi Bahār (Malek-al-Šoʿarāʾ) who lived in internal exile at Isfahan, was the magazine’s scholarly advisor (Parvin, p. 540). His very first poems and articles, including a series of articles on the Šāh-nāma, were published in the magazine (Ṣadr Hāšemi, no. 267). Scholars and writers like Saʿid Nafisi and Reżā-zādeh Šafaq, who lived in Tehran, used to send articles for publication in Bāḵtar. The publication of Bāḵtar terminated in 1935.

Soon after, Saifpour Fatemi resumed the publication of Bāḵtar in new attire, this time dealing mainly with political commentaries and news, under the editorship of his brother Ḥosayn Fāṭemi . When Saifpour Fatemi was appointed as the mayor of Shiraz in 1939, he transferred much of the task of running the newspaper to his brother, who moved the journal to Tehran in 1942 and published it as an afternoon daily (ʿĀqeli, p. 850). Ḥosayn Fāṭemi was later appointed as the minister for foreign affairs during the premiership of Moḥammad Moṣaddeq, and he played an instrumental role in the nationalization of oil industries. He was executed a few months after the overthrow of Moṣaddeq’s government in 1953 (see COUP D’ETAT OF 1332 Š./1953 ).

After serving for a short period of time as the mayor of Shiraz, Saifpour Fatemi was appointed as the city’s governor, a position he held for two years, and for some time he was  the acting governor of the province of Fars. He initiated tangible improvements in the city’s refuse collection, water supply system, bakeries, hospitals, and historical monuments (Āyina-ye ʿebrat, II, pp. 1111-14).

In 1943 Saifpour Fatemi was elected to the 14th Majles (parliament), representing the constituency of Najafābād, near Esfahan. The Iranian government, for much of the time under the premiership of Aḥmad Qavām, had to deal with such critical issues as the occupation of Azerbaijan  by the Soviet Union and the establishment of the Republic of Kurdistan in Mahābād, which by extension led to momentous confrontations and debates in the 14th session of the Majles (Key-Ostovān, II, pp. 223-25; N. Saifpour Fatemi, Āyina-ye ʿebrat, I, pp. 261-66, 318-23). Saifpour Fatemi, as reflected in the proceedings of the 14th Majles, strongly supported the government’s military intervention to ensure the return of the two provinces to Iran (Abrahimian, pp. 205-9; see also Faramarz S. Fatemi, pp. 100-101, 173-77).

Putting the turbulent world of wartime Iranian politics behind him, Saifpour Fatemi departed for the United States in 1946 and pursued his studies in social and political sciences at Columbia University and the New School for Social Research. He was a lecturer at Princeton University from 1950 to 1955.

While in the United States he represented Iran at UNESCO’s regional conference held in 1947 in New York and served as Iran’s delegate to the United Nations from 1952 to 1953. It was during this period that Moḥammad Moṣaddeq, now Iran’s Prime Minister, travelled to the United States to attend the Security Council’s session on the Anglo-Iranian oil dispute.

In 1960 he was appointed Chairman of the Department of Social Sciences at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and he served as the university’s Dean of the Graduate School from 1965 to 1971. He also founded and directed the Graduate Institute for International Studies in 1971. His work at Fairleigh Dickinson eventually won him the title of Distinguished Professor. He was a member of the Executive Committee of International Universities and played a prominent role in organizing international seminars in the Wroxton Campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University in Oxfordshire, England. Many distinguished political figures and economic experts from all over the world participated in these seminars. He retired from his academic career in 1981.

Saifpour Fatemi produced works in Persian and in English. In one of the most noted among them, Oil Diplomacy: Powderkeg in Iran (New York, 1954),  he provides a wealth of information on the oil dreams of the Soviet Union and Great Britain in Iran (pp. 233-39) and on the secessionist movements in Azerbaijan and Kurdistan and the power struggle in which the Tudeh Party played a significant role. His publications in English also include: Diplomatic History of Persia, 1917-192: Anglo-Russian Power Politics in Iran (New York, 1952), The Dollar Crisis: The United States Balance of Payments and Dollar Stability (New York, 1964), Multinational Corporations: Problems and Prospects (New Jersey, 1975), and While the United States Slept (New York, 1982). He co-authored, with Farmarz S. Fatemi and Fariborz S. Fatemi, two books on Persian Sufism: Love, Beauty and Harmony in Sufism (South Brunswick, N.J., 1978), and Sufism: Message of Brotherhood, Harmony and Hope (South Brunswick, N.J., 1976).

Among his works in Persian is Āyina-ye ʿebrat (Mirror of hard lessons), in three volumes. Although the work takes the form of an autobiography, it is a valuable, detailed history of   20th-century Iran and gives eyewitness accounts of many developments in which he had a role or of which he was a witness. Nasrollah Saifpour Fatemi was married to Šāyesteh Ostovār (d. 2004) and had three sons.   



Bāqer ʿĀqeli, Šarḥ-e ḥāl-e rejāl-e siāsi va neẓāmi-e Irān, vol. II, Tehran, 2001, pp. 850-51.

Ervand Abrahimian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, Princeton, 1982.

Ḥosayn Key-Ostovān, Siāsat-e movāzena-ye manfi dar Majles-e Čāhārdahom (The policy of negative equilibrium in the 14th Majles), 2 vols., Tehran, 1948-1950.

Moḥammad Ṣadr Hāšemi, Tāriḵ-e jarāʾed va majallāt-e Irān, Isfahan, 1327 Š./1948-1332 Š./1953, nos. 267-68.

Nāṣer-al-Din Parvin, “BĀḴTAR,” in Encyclopaedia Iranica III, 1989, p. 540.

Idem, “BĀḴTAR-e EMRUZ,” in Encyclopaedia Iranica III, 1989, pp. 540-41.

Faramarz Saifpour Fatemi, The U.S.S.R. in Iran: The Background History of Russian and Anglo-American Conflict in Iran, South Brunswick, N.J., 1980.

Nasrollah Saifpour Fatemi: Oil Diplomacy: Powder Keg in Iran, New York, 1954.

Idem, Āʾina-ye ʿebrat: Ḵāṭerāt o ruydādhā-ye tāriḵ-e moʿāṣer-e Irān (Mirror of hard lessons: Memoires or the chronicle of current events in Iran), 3 vols. The first two volumes of the book were published in London, 1989 and 1991, and the third volume (ed., Farāmarz Saifpur Fāṭemi) in New Jersey, 2010. Volumes II and III were published posthumously.

(Lotfali Khonji)

Originally Published: January 1, 2000

Last Updated: August 14, 2012