Diplomat of Resistance or Foreign Minister of Iran

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Diplomat of Resistance or Foreign Minister of Iran

Diplomat of Resistance or Foreign Minister of Iran

Amir Abdollahian began his career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1997 after completing his studies in International Relations at the University of Tehran. Over his 20 years of service at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs until 2016, he climbed the managerial ranks, and during the tenure of Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, he was selected as the Deputy for Arab and African Affairs.

Following the 2013 elections and the establishment of the eleventh government under Mohammad Javad Zarif as the Foreign Minister, Amir Abdollahian retained his position and worked as the Deputy Foreign Minister until 2016. After being dismissed from this position, he entered the Islamic Consultative Assembly and became the Director General of International Affairs.

In 2021, with the inauguration of the thirteenth government, Hossein Amir Abdollahian was nominated as the Minister of Foreign Affairs by the President-elect Ebrahim Raisi and was confirmed by the Islamic Consultative Assembly on 25 August 2021, with a decisive vote in favor and only 6 opposing votes.

Amirabdollahian served in various positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in different regions during his service.

In 2007, he was appointed as the head of the Special Iraq Desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and during the embassy of Hassan Kazemi-Qomi in Baghdad at the peak of internal conflicts in Iraq after the country was occupied by the United States, he led the negotiating team as the third round of trilateral talks between Iran, Iraq, and the United States. After this responsibility, he took over his first embassy duty and was sent as Iran’s ambassador to Bahrain.

Change in diplomatic literature of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In 2021, when Hossein Amirabdollahian was appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the diplomatic literature of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs changed in line with the policies of the new government.

Amirabdollahian’s first foreign trip after taking office as the Minister was immediately after receiving a vote of confidence from the Islamic Consultative Assembly to Iraq, to participate in the Baghdad Cooperation and Partnership Conference with the presence of some leaders of Arab countries and the President of France.

Amirabdollahian’s presence at the summit was controversial because when taking a souvenir photo, instead of standing in his designated place in the second row alongside other foreign ministers present at the meeting, he moved to the front row among heads of states and leaders. In interviews with IRIB about this action, he said, ‘I stood in a place that represented the true position of Iran and the representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran.’

After his appointment as a minister, Amirabdollahian chose Ali Bagheri as his political deputy and senior negotiator for Iran in the negotiations to revive the JCPOA.

The selection of Ali Bagheri, who was considered one of the critics and serious opponents of the JCPOA, as a negotiator to revive this agreement faced criticism.

During Amirabdollahian’s tenure as minister, Iran’s negotiations with the remaining parties to the JCPOA shifted from negotiations to revive the JCPOA to negotiations to lift sanctions. However, during Amirabdollahian’s tenure, these negotiations did not yield the desired results, neither reviving the JCPOA nor lifting the sanctions.

Nevertheless, the primary focus of the thirteenth government’s foreign policy during Amirabdollahian’s tenure as minister shifted to neighboring and developing relations with neighboring countries.

One of the most important events during the tenure of Amir-Abdollahian as Minister was the reconciliation agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia after 7 years of complete diplomatic relations cut-off. This agreement was reached with the mediation of China in Beijing. The agreement was signed by Mosaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, the national security advisor of the Saudi Kingdom, and Ali Shamkhani, the then Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, in Beijing. After signing this agreement, Amir-Abdollahian met and held discussions with his Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan, multiple times, and also hosted him in Tehran.

During Amir-Abdollahian’s tenure, the process of reopening the Iranian embassy in Saudi Arabia and the establishment of Saudi diplomats in Iran proceeded rapidly and practically. The resumption of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran had significant implications in the region, leading to some other countries, including Bahrain, beginning the process of normalizing their relations with Iran.

In this regard, relations between the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait with Iran improved, and the process of Syria’s return to the Arab League and the normalization of Syria’s relations with Arab countries was also expedited.

Amir-Abdollahian’s next project was an effort to normalize Iran’s relations with Egypt after decades of severed ties, which was not achieved during his tenure. Strengthening the focus on the East and Asia was another policy pursued during his less than three years as the Minister.

Implementing the 26-year Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation Document with China, joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, strengthening relations with Russia, and efforts to sign a new long-term agreement with Russia, joining the BRICS group alongside China, Russia, and India, as well as efforts to sign a free trade agreement with Eurasian Customs Union member countries were among the actions pursued during Amir-Abdollahian’s tenure as Minister.

After the October 7, 2023 incident and the start of the Gaza war, Amir-Abdollahian made several regional trips and held detailed negotiations with officials from regional countries.

Efforts to clarify Iran’s positions on Palestine, pursuing efforts for a ceasefire and preventing the massacre of Gaza citizens, as well as exchanging messages and diplomatic follow-ups before and after Iran’s response to Israel’s attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus were among the activities rigorously pursued by Amir-Abdollahian during the 7-month Gaza war.

The Diplomat of Resistance

Hossein Amirabdollahian was known as a diplomat with close ties to Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah in Lebanon. He was recognized for his close relationship with the resistance axis. In an interview with the Dastkhat program on IRIB, Amirabdollahian referred to his first meeting with Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in 1389 (Solar Hijri calendar).

He mentioned about his meetings with Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, stating that his first direct meeting with him was in 1389, and since then, he sees him almost every few months, with an average meeting duration ranging between 3 and 6 hours.

Before being appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, one of the most significant controversies related to Hossein Amirabdollahian was his dismissal from the position of Deputy for Arab and African Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the eleventh government under the tenure of Mohammad Javad Zarif. At that time, the selection of Hossein Jaberi Ansari as his successor in the position faced harsh criticism from conservative media.

Some conservative media interpreted Amirabdollahian’s dismissal as a weakening of Iran’s relations with the resistance axis.

In a report titled ‘Removal of Resistance Diplomat,’ the Vatan-e Emrooz newspaper wrote that Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a strange and noteworthy move, dismissed Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the Arab and African Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, a seasoned diplomat well-versed in Iran’s regional affairs.

Abdollahian, due to his expertise and knowledge of recent regional developments, had managed to serve as a special asset for the Islamic Republic of Iran, facilitating diplomatic negotiations in the region to the benefit of the Resistance movement. His performance in the Iraqi dossier, particularly his actions in Bahrain and the Persian Gulf, led to his recognition within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a regional specialist. Additionally, in the region, Abdollahian became known as a prominent diplomat of the Resistance movement, especially in recent years, and amid regional changes, the Saudi coalition’s efforts failed to undermine the plans of this diplomat of the Resistance movement in the region.

Although Amirabdollahian was selected as a consultant to the Minister after being removed from the position of deputy by Zarif, and it was said that he was supposed to go to Muscat, the capital of Oman, as the new ambassador of Iran, he decided to forgo this embassy and after a while, he became active as a special assistant to the Speaker of the Parliament and Director-General of International Affairs of the Islamic Consultative Assembly and Secretary-General of the Permanent Secretariat of the International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada.

Diplomatic Achievements of Amirabdollahian

Hossein Amirabdollahian reached the Foreign Ministry in times when the country faced many challenges in foreign policy due to the United States’ withdrawal from the JCPOA and the return of U.S. sanctions. During this period, the thirteenth government pursued joining some international institutions that had been prepared for joining in the previous government. One of the diplomatic achievements of this period was Iran’s formal accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS group.

Simultaneous with Iran’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Hossein Amirabdollahian considered this membership as a significant step in pursuing a comprehensive foreign policy, strengthening neighborly relations, and focusing on Asia. He also emphasized after Iran’s acceptance into the BRICS group, stating that the BRICS group, as a multi-polar structure, has a strong inclination for independent and influential role-playing in the global arena. In this regard, it can be one of our country’s desirable goals for pursuing multilateralism alongside other coalitions and important structures such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Eurasian Economic Union, ASEAN, and in the field of foreign policy and international relations.

Failures in Amirabdollahian’s foreign policy

Perhaps the biggest failure during Amir-Abdollahian’s three-year term as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran was the inability of the foreign policy apparatus to achieve the goal of lifting the oppressive sanctions imposed by the United States. Negotiations initiated by Ali Baqeri, the political deputy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from 8 Azar 1400 to return the US to the JCPOA, faced difficulties in Esfand 1400. Despite several attempts to resume negotiations, even a new draft agreement for the US return to the JCPOA was proposed in Shahrivar 1401, but these negotiations came to a complete halt with the protests in Iran in the autumn of 1401. Hopes for the US return to the JCPOA and the lifting of sanctions were significantly diminished.

During this period, some European countries took a harsh stance towards the Islamic Republic of Iran, which Iran’s diplomatic apparatus could not prevent the escalation of tensions in Iran’s relations with European countries following the protests in 1401. These events, along with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and accusations against Tehran of sending weapons to Russia for use in the Ukraine war, gradually led to a deterioration in Iran’s relations with European powers.


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