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publish date : 2 Sunday July 2017      2:48

Four Reasons Javad Zarif Should Continue as Iran’s Foreign Minister

Reformist website Entekhab recounts the benefits of the 57-year old diplomat remaining in his post.

With the second administration of Hassan Rouhani going to begin its term in one month, speculations are rife about likely reshuffling of the cabinet. On Thursday, Reformist newspaper Aftab-e Yazd carried the headline “Hesitant Generals” along with a picture of Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Petroleum Minister Bijan Zanganeh, claiming that unrelenting attacks by hardliners have made the two, generally believed to be the most successful ministers of Rouhani’s cabinet, uncertain about continuing their service as ministers.

 

Javad Zarif’s response was diplomatic: “I will give no remarks until President [Rouhani] makes his decision,” he said when asked about the rumor during his European tour. Nonetheless, the Reformist website Entekhab felt the urge to publish a case for continuation of the 57-year old diplomat as foreign minister in Rouhani’s cabinet.

 

Entekhab lists four reasons that make it necessary for Zarif to continue his role in the cabinet. The first reason: the strong trust that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani have in Iran’s foreign minister.

 

Zarif has been praised by Ayatollah Khamenei in several occasions, Entekhab reminds us. At the pinnacle of hardliners’ attacks on Rouhani’s foreign minister for negotiating with world powers over Iran’s nuclear program, Zarif was called “trustworthy” and “a child of the [Islamic] Revolution” by Iran’s Supreme Leader. “Pious”, “conscientious” and “responsible” were other characteristics of the diplomat according to Ayatollah Khamenei.

 

Zarif also enjoys a long history of working relationship with President Hassan Rouhani, beginning with the early stages of the nuclear negotiations in 2003 with E3 (France, Germany, Britain) and culminating in the 2013-2015 intense talks. “We were not at this point where we are if anyone but Dr. Zarif had led the negotiating team” Entekhab quotes Rouhani. “Indeed, I chose the best person for this responsibility.”

 

Zarif’s mastery over the subject of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA, and his positive role in its sustention is another key reason which necessitates the continuation of his service, Entekhab argues. Former US Secretary of State John Kerry called Zarif “a patriot …who fought hard for his nation’s interests” reminds Entekhab, adding that he is one of the few diplomats familiar with the details of the nuclear agreement and thus, able to stop US from further violating the deal. Zarif is also able to mobilize Europeans in defense of JCPOA, the website says.

 

The third reason Entekhab mentions as necessitating Zarif’s reintroduction as foreign minister is his cordial relations with European and Asian diplomats, thanks to his long years of service in Iran’s mission to the United Nations. Entekhab names Russian FM Sergey Lavrov and former Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoğlu among top diplomats who hold close relations with Iran’s foreign minister. Zarif is able to forge agreements with his Eastern and Western counterparts and his continued service guarantees the ‘moderation’ policy of the government, Entekhab concludes.

 

The Reformist website also warns of a likely disillusionment among Rouhani’s support base in case Zarif does not continue with a second term. “Lack of a figure [e.g. Zarif] who has revived Iran’s image in the region and the world … can lead to disappointment among those who voted for Rouhani” Entekhab says, adding that it was thanks to Zarif’s prudent policies that the nuclear negotiations led to conclusion of JCPOA and Iran’s performance of a key role in regional crises, from Syria to Qatar. “Iran needs Zarif for a happy ending to the nuclear saga, and for regional challenges to benefit Iran in the best way” Entekhab concludes.



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