Has Iran’s Zarif Just Resigned? Rumors and Ambiguous Reports Abound

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TEHRAN – Western and Middle Eastern media are discussing reports about the largely unexpected and sudden resignation of Mohammad Javad Zarif from the post of Iranian foreign minister.

According to the U.S friendly, the Qatari’s Al-Thani dynasty owned Al-Jazeera television channel, they reported on Tuesday morning, February 26th, that the head of the Rouhani’s office “strongly denied” rumors in the media about the resignation of Zarif by the Iranian president.

Reuters agency represents Zarif as one of the “architects” of the multilateral agreement on Iran’s nuclear program concluded in July 2015. Recently, rumors about his likely resignation have intensified around the figure of Zarif as head of Iranian diplomacy. The local conservatives blamed “foreign policy failures” on the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May 2018, the ambiguous position of leading European countries towards Iran, which, on the one hand, remained representative of the representative of the moderately reformist cabinet of the President of the Islamic Republic Hassan Rouhani. as part of a nuclear deal, but on the other hand, they continued to accuse Tehran of continuing its own missile program and “aggressive behavior” in the Middle East.

Why would Zarif have resigned?

According to media reports, the “diplomatic incident” within the Iranian leadership served as the immediate reason for the resignation.

It is indicated that Zarif was not informed about the visit of Syrian President Bashar Assad to Tehran , which took place on February 25th. As a result, the Foreign Minister was allegedly “offended” and immediately announced his resignation from the post of Foreign Minister.

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A certain plausibility of this version is indicated by the unconventional (for Iranian leadership) method of informing the public about its decision. 59-year-old Zarif brought this news to the public in a rather exotic way by posting a resignation message on his Instagram page. In the message, the minister expressed regret for all the mistakes he made in this post, thanked the Iranian nation and its leadership, and apologized for the “further inability to continue the service.”

Another version indicates that the foreign ministry was not informed due to a previously known about undisclosed security breach within the Iranian foreign ministry, a breach which occurred under Zarif’s watch. In such a scenario, Iranian security would not have informed the foreign ministry about the arrival of the Syrian President for security concerns over the life of the popular and democratically elected Syrian leader, given that Atlanticist powers could have attempted to take down his plane, or other form of assassination.

The U.S’ Role

The United States said it continues to study reports of the resignation of the head of the Iranian foreign office. At the same time, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted earlier , “our policy remains unchanged – the (Iranian) regime should behave like a normal country and respect (its) people.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has reportedly confirmed the resignation of Zarif. Meanwhile, his immediate superior, president and head of government, Hassan Rouhani, has not commented on the situation at all and has not made a statement about accepting or rejecting Zarif’s petition. This would contradict the Al Jazeera report on some level. Therefore, FRN will be closely monitoring this situation for clarity. 

 

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