Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 June 2019

Iran's Mohammad Zarif resigned over Bashar Al Assad visit snub

The spokesman for the foreign ministry has reportedly said the minister was not told in advance

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaking at the Munich Security Conference on February 17 just before the crisis unfolded. Reuters
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaking at the Munich Security Conference on February 17 just before the crisis unfolded. Reuters

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was not informed about Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s trip to Tehran last week and that was a reason why he submitted his resignation, the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) quoted a senior ministry official as saying on Tuesday.

The news agency cited foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi as the source of information in its report.

President Hassan Rouhani rejected Mr Zarif’s resignation last Wednesday, bolstering a moderate ally who has long been targeted by hardliners in factional struggles over the 2015 nuclear deal with the West.

“The ministry of foreign affairs did not have information at any level [about the trip] and this lack of information was maintained until the end of the trip,” Mr Qassemi said, according to ISNA.

“One of the reasons for the resignation of Dr Zarif was this type of lack of co-ordination with the ministry of foreign affairs. And as it has been announced before, the resignation of the honourable minister was not a private and individual issue and the goal and intent of that was a positive effort to return the ministry of foreign affairs and the diplomatic system of the country to its main place.”

Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, the branch of the elite Revolutionary Guards responsible for operations outside Iran’s borders, was present at a meeting last week between Mr Al Assad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader.

After the resignation, Mr Soleimani said last week that Mr Zarif was the main person in charge of foreign policy and he was supported by Mr Khamenei.

The message appeared a concession from the shadowy Quds commander to publicly recognise Mr Zarif’s precedence in foreign affairs, even as he continues to pursue the country's military role across the Middle East.

Updated: March 5, 2019 03:34 PM

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