That is the primary a part of a two-part collection.
Hossein Amirabdollahian, Iran’s new international minister, is known for his exceptionally shut relationship with the Quds Drive, the international operations department of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in addition to its regional allies.
Mr. Amirabdollahian, born in 1964, holds a PhD in worldwide relations from the College of Tehran. On the time of his appointment to the publish of international minister, he was the director-general of worldwide affairs in Iran’s parliament, international coverage advisor to the parliament speaker, one of many advisors to the Ministry of Overseas Affairs, and secretary-general of the Secretariat of the Worldwide Convention on Supporting the Palestinian Intifada. Till June 2016, Amirabdollahian was the deputy international minister for Arab and African international locations, a place he had held since 2011, underneath the Ahmadinejad administration. Mr. Amirabdollahian was additionally Iran’s ambassador to Bahrain from 2007 to 2010, and held key tasks relating to Iraq after the U.S. invasion: he was particular assistant to the international minister for Iraqi affairs from 2003 to 2006, and was in command of the Overseas Ministry’s particular headquarters on Iraqi affairs from 2006 to 2007.
On Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s web site, not less than 10 analyses of Amirabdollahian will be discovered within the type of articles or unique interviews; that is uncommon and noteworthy, because the publication of even a single unique evaluation on this web site is seen as a major privilege for an Iranian official. He’s clearly nearer to the supreme chief than his predecessor, Mohammad Javad Zarif. The brand new international minister can be extra pessimistic concerning the West, friendlier towards Russia and China, and extra decided to defend Iran-affiliated militia forces within the area than Zarif.
Nevertheless, Amirabdollahian is seen as not being as hardline as Saeed Jalili, Iran’s high negotiator underneath Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or Ali Bagheri, the deputy of worldwide affairs of Iran’s judiciary. Bagheri, as one of many closest associates of Jalili, was Amirabdollahian’s rival for the place of international minister, and, like Jalili, is a staunch opponent of the Joint Complete Plan of Motion (JCPOA).
The brand new international minister can communicate English, however movies of him speaking to non-Iranians point out his fairly restricted capacity. In consequence, he has usually most well-liked to talk to English-language networks with the assistance of an interpreter (for instance, see right here, right here and right here). On the similar time, though his Arabic is clearly higher than his English, he has normally used an interpreter throughout his interviews with Arabic networks as nicely (for instance, see right here, right here and right here).
In these new circumstances, Western officers might discover negotiating with Tehran’s high diplomat tougher than along with his predecessor, not solely due to his harder political stance, but additionally as a consequence of his extra restricted language expertise. Nonetheless, some optimistic analysts in Iran consider that nearer relations between the supreme chief, on the one hand, and President Ebrahim Raisi and Amirabdollahian, on the opposite, is likely to be helpful in sure phases of the nuclear talks. They consider that if — and provided that — the Iranian regime decides to succeed in an settlement with world powers sooner or later, the Raisi administration would face much less opposition from hardliners, compared with the earlier administration underneath Hassan Rouhani.
Particular relations with Gen. Soleimani
Amirabdollahian’s shut ties to the Quds Drive have repeatedly made information, particularly throughout his time as deputy international minister for Arab and African international locations in addition to when he was in command of Iraqi relations. This closeness was due primarily to the truth that the strategic insurance policies of the Overseas Ministry within the Center East should at all times be consistent with the priorities of the Quds Drive, such that even the Iranian ambassadors to international locations within the area should be accepted by the drive.
However along with these extra systematic connections, Mr. Amirabdollahian had a really private relationship with the previous commander of the Quds Drive as nicely. A few of his narratives about Gen. Qassem Soleimani even display his unusual fascination with the overall. For instance, in an interview for Ayatollah Khamenei’s web site on Might 23, 2020, Amirabdollahian claimed that Soleimani’s brokers had infiltrated “the bedrooms of the senior officers of the Zionist regime.” In a tv interview on Dec. 31, 2020, Amirabdollahian quoted some Soleimani associates in Syria as saying, “Throughout sure operations towards the Zionist forces within the area, some nights the Common got here to our goals and confirmed us the roadmap for the operation.”
In one other unique interview for Ayatollah Khamenei’s web site on Dec. 22, 2020, the diplomat emphasised his “face-to-face contacts with Common Soleimani for almost 20 years,” including that he normally “acquired the newest recommendation from the Common” earlier than conducting essential diplomatic talks. Amirabdollahian, for example, spoke of making use of Soleimani’s recommendation throughout his journey to London in October 2015 to debate bilateral and regional points with British officers, in addition to throughout his negotiations with Russian officers over Syria.
In one other assertion about his 2007 talks with the People — within the presence of Iraqi officers — the diplomat stated that Soleimani instructed him and his colleagues on communicate with the People throughout “tens of hours” of briefing classes earlier than the talks.
It ought to be famous that the 2007 talks between Iran and america on Iraq’s safety occurred after Ayatollah Khamenei, in an unprecedented touch upon Might 16, 2007, licensed the Overseas Ministry to carry face-to-face conferences with U.S. officers to “remind People of their dedication to Iraq’s safety.” Following the chief’s inexperienced mild, the Iranian and U.S. delegations held three rounds of trilateral talks in August 2007 the place Amirabdollahian headed the Iranian delegation in some classes.
Particular relations with anti-Israel militias
Along with his connections to the Quds Drive, Amirabdollahian has at all times had particular relations with the Islamic Republic’s anti-Israel proxies within the area as nicely. As an example, in a TV interview on March 2, 2018, he revealed his very shut ties with Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of Hezbollah in Lebanon. “The primary time I met him straight was in 2010, and since then I’ve seen him virtually each few months,” Amirabdollahian stated. Noting that a few of his conferences with Nasrallah had taken place at uncommon occasions, corresponding to 3 am, Amirabdollahian added, “The conferences we’ve collectively are between 3.5 to six hours on common.” It’s price mentioning that the date of the above interview was about two years after Mr. Amirabdollahian’s removing from the publish of deputy international minister, which indicated that the particular relationship of the interviewee with the secretary-general of Hezbollah was outdoors his official capability.
It was consistent with this particular relationship that on Jan. 13, 2019, following rumors of Nasrallah’s coronary heart assault, Amirabdollahian denied them from the place of an unique supply, commenting that, “Undoubtedly, there shall be no Zionists on the day when Hassan Nasrallah and the leaders of the Palestinian resistance will pray in al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Usually, emphasis on the downfall of Israel has been the topic of lots of Amirabdollahian’s feedback on numerous events. Maybe the clearest expression of his views on Israel will be present in his detailed interview for Ayatollah Khamenei’s web site on Might 23, 2020, throughout which he described Israel as a “most cancers tumor” and a “faux regime,” contemplating the “disappearance” of it essential for the nationwide safety of Iran. On this interview, he made numerous references to the “closing resolution” to the Israeli drawback, stressing that “when the Supreme Chief of the Revolution speaks of the ultimate resolution, he doesn’t communicate of a plan written on the clouds, however of a completely operational and possible plan.”
“After we speak concerning the closing resolution, we consider that the Palestinian individuals, together with Jews, Christians and Muslims, should resolve their very own future. … [Before that] the displaced Palestinians should return to their homeland … then a referendum ought to be held among the many real Palestinian individuals, together with Muslims, Christians, and Jews,” he stated.
Amirabdollahian went on to elucidate that after the chief’s instructed referendum, a authorities would come to energy in Palestine that would have the “particular process” of “figuring out the destiny of the uninvited visitors who’ve occupied the Palestinian territories,” i.e., Israel’s Jewish immigrants.
Marie Abdi is an Iranian political researcher specializing in the Islamic Republic’s home and regional methods. The views expressed on this piece are her personal.
Picture by Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Company by way of Getty Photos