Analysis by PMOI/MEK
March 7, 2019 - About a week ago, the Iranian regime’s foreign minister Javad Zarif announced his surprise resignation on his official Instagram account and swiftly withdrew it after about 48 hours. And although both major political factions among the ruling elite in Iran did their best to normalize the scandal, there isn’t a day where a new aspect of the depth of the underlying rift and the fragility of the regime’s power structure isn’t revealed.
Zarif’s resignation was simultaneous with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s official visit to Tehran where he met with Iranian regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and regime president Hassan Rouhani. The visit was intended to be a show of power for the Iranian regime and showcase its influence in the region in defiance of growing political and economic isolation across the world.
But Zarif’s resignation changed the whole equation for the Islamic Republic.
Not only did the news of the Syrian dictator’s visit to Tehran become eclipsed by the internal political controversy, but political fragility in the top tier of the Iranian ruling elite was also added to a whole lot of other major problems that the ruling mullahs in Iran face since the popular uprising in December 2017.
Iranian pundits from both factions agree that the resignation theatre damaged the whole regime.
Now, after decisions about the fate of the FATF bills in the Iranian Expediency Discernment Council have been postponed, some so-called reformists claim that Zarif withdrew his resignation because he was able to secure a promise to approve the required bills to join the world’s de facto anti money-laundering body.
Opponents don’t agree.
Hossein Mozaffar, member of the Expediency Council from Khamenei’s faction and a former minister in Mohammad Khatami’s government, said on March 3: “Zarif’s resignation will have no impact at all in the decision-making process of the related bills.”
“This resignation at the time of Bashar Al-Assad’s important visit of the Supreme Leader has damaged Zarif’s political credibility internally and on the international stage,” he added.
“We thought about him [Zarif] differently and we thought that Zarif is more resilient. Maybe Zarif was under pressure, nevertheless his action [resignation], especially at that point in time, was wrong,” he said.
Siasat-e Rooz newspaper, close to Khamenei’s faction, wrote on March 2: “With a political blackmail in terms of the country’s FM resignation, the foreign policy establishment was trying to put pressure on the Expediency Discernment Council to swiftly approve the four FATF bills.”
Although Iran newspaper, the government’s mouthpiece, reiterated Zarif’s commitment to the Islamic Republic on March 2 and wrote that “his statements didn’t violate the regime’s major policies and views in the slightest way,” Javan newspaper, a semi-official outlet for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps., described Javad Zarif’s resignation “a malign scenario with the goal of drawing an issue into the public.”
“We shouldn’t forget that Zarif’s resignation has also revealed some people’s hypocrisy, deception, and conflict of interest. Those people who have for years considered the government and the likes of Zarif without power and authority and used terms like ‘the selective sector’, ‘the hidden government’, ‘they don’t let the government work’, etc. for the public; Fortunately, Zarif’s resignation has revealed this hypocrisy and conflict of interest in presenting a dual picture of the relations between parts of the government,” Javan further wrote.
Asadollah Badamchian, spokesperson for the regime’s Islamic Coalition Party, considered Zarif’s resignation a mistake at the worst possible time and said: “The foreign minister should have take advantage of the opportunity of Bashar Al-Assad’s important visit and made a decision at a proper time.”
Meanwhile, Rouhani’s cronies are gradually revealing the rifts in the foreign policy establishment and talk about meddling by organizations close to Khamenei.
Mohsen Aminzadeh, former deputy foreign minister of Mohammad Khatami, said on March 2: “The reason behind Zarif’s resignation is the meddling of irresponsible security and military organizations, especially the Quds Force, in foreign policy [matters]. Since assuming his post in 2013, Zarif was facing this big problem. In the process of Bashar Al-Assad’s visit to Tehran, this problem has presented itself more clearly.
“Indeed, meddling in foreign policy isn’t limited to the Quds Force. Other military and security institutions also meddle in foreign policy. These meddling are so frequent that you can say that such an extreme situation is unprecedented.”