The Era of Decline in Iranian Diplomacy

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The Era of Decline in Iranian Diplomacy

The Decline of Iranian Diplomacy

According to experts, the performance of the Iranian diplomatic apparatus has been ineffective and inconsistent over the past three months, especially after the start of the Gaza war. The blame for this is mostly directed towards Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the head of the diplomatic apparatus.

During his recent two and a half years as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir Abdollahian has left behind a controversial track record. He was closely aligned with Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and the traditional and classical conservatives within the main cabinet.

Who is Amir Abdollahian, the Minister?

While whispers of Ibrahim Raisi’s inclination to appoint Ali Bagheri as the Minister of Foreign Affairs were heard from the very beginning, it is said that the Office of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic has opposed this appointment, and in a way, it can be said that Amir-Abdollahian also has the approval of Ayatollah Khamenei. In other words, the weak performance of the diplomatic apparatus under Amir-Abdollahian’s leadership can be attributed to the leadership. Many believe that the current Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic is not only the minister of Raisi and his associates, but exactly and directly the minister of Ayatollah Khamenei, and his performance is also attributed to him.

Inaction from day one

The first and most important file that existed and still exists in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Amir-Abdollahian’s leadership is the nuclear file of Iran and the nuclear negotiations. This file has been ongoing for over 20 years, and the Hassan Rouhani government was able to bring this long saga to a near conclusion. However, due to reasons such as the emergence of Trump on the scene, the dynamics changed, and the arrival of Raisi in Iran completely altered the equations. Nevertheless, Amir-Abdollahian took over the nuclear file under certain circumstances, where negotiations with the Biden administration had reached a suitable point for reviving the JCPOA. Even Raisi had promised a powerful and decisive implementation of the JCPOA during the elections.

But over time, it became clear that not only do the leaders of the system have no inclination for a permanent and definitive solution to this problem, but also the key players in the diplomatic apparatus lack the ability to implement policies that secure national interests. Hussein Amir-Abdollahian, as the top figure in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has shown that he not only lacks the ability to lead negotiation teams but also faces complete resistance and passivity even in front of the responsible team for nuclear negotiations.

This is while the relationship between Javad Zarif and the nuclear negotiation team is still fresh in the minds of the audience and has not been forgotten. This shortcoming was so damaging that Ali Akbar Salehi, as the direct responsible for nuclear negotiations with European, Russian, and Chinese countries, made catastrophic decisions. The most important and well-known of these decisions was delaying negotiations and agreements with the excuse of the harsh winter in Europe, a policy that not only placed Iran’s interests below Russia’s interests but also caused a severe wave of currency price increases in the country.

On the other hand, in the summer of 1401, when such a decision was made by the negotiating team and the hardline elements in power, no one could have imagined that just a few weeks later, we would face one of the most important and widespread waves of nationwide protests in the country. These protests dealt a fundamental blow to the image of the Islamic Republic in the world and also shook the foundations of the country’s weak and fragile economy more than ever before. In the midst of all this, the role of Amir-Abdollahian as an uncertain and weak minister was clearly evident to the audience, and no one considered him and his deputy team as effective.

From the Gaza war to Pakistan’s invasion of Iranian territory

The seventh of October 2023 is one of the most significant moments in the history of the Middle East, which will likely be talked about for years and decades to come. The semi-military attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad on Israeli kibbutzim in the occupied southern territories not only resulted in the deaths of thousands of people in this region of the world, but also served as a starting point for creating crises, both small and large, in various parts of the world, especially the Middle East.

Naturally, from the very beginning, the name of the Islamic Republic of Iran was heard as one of the main supporters of Hamas as the main actor behind this attack, as stated by Israeli tribunes. However, the Biden administration has so far prevented direct confrontation with Iran by pressing the proposition that there is no evidence of Tehran’s involvement in the operation known as ‘Operation Quds Storm’. Nonetheless, the performance of Amir-Abdollahian in dealing with this major development in the Middle East was strangely amateurish and counterproductive.

His contradictory statements at the United Nations and his aimless and Quixotic trips to Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria sent a message to Iran’s regional rivals that Tehran does not have a specific plan to confront the Gaza war. However, this inconsistency reached its peak when the pressure on the Israeli government was reduced, and Netanyahu gradually managed to free himself from a huge volume of criticisms.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government began targeting influential Iranian figures in the region, including the most important of these figures, the commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria and Lebanon. In addition, the Israeli army killed several key figures of Hezbollah in Lebanon through coordinated airstrikes.

Amir-Abdollahian’s passive stance in response to this situation was summarized only through slogan-like speeches in meetings with officials of regional countries. No one was waiting to hear the positions of the Islamic Republic from the mouth of the foreign minister anymore, and they preferred to wait for the next speech by Ayatollah Khamenei to better understand the existing alignments.

However, this situation continued until terrorist attacks occurred in the port of Rask and also in Kerman, resulting in the deaths of dozens of innocent men, women, and children. The Islamic Republic immediately attributed these attacks to Israel and ordered operations in Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan. These operations mainly involved rockets and drones, targeting alleged terrorist positions in the region according to Tehran’s claims.

However, the problem arose when the Islamic Republic dragged the game into a new and dangerous field called Pakistan, a country that fundamentally had no conflicting interests with Iran and was not considered a threat to the country. But this action by the Revolutionary Guards on January 16, 2024, angered the public and the government of Pakistan. In the first step, the Iranian embassy’s charge d’affaires in Islamabad was summoned, and the return of the Iranian ambassador to Pakistan was also prohibited.

This incident occurred when it was expected that Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, as the Foreign Minister, would use diplomatic tools and prevent any strong reaction from the Pakistanis. However, his weakness and the government of Ebrahim Raisi led to the Pakistani army launching drone and rocket attacks on Iranian soil in the early morning of 28 Dey 1402. This attack took place while the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs had full control over the media coverage of the incident and was providing information to the news outlets.

But in Tehran, the situation was different, and each responsible official in the Raisi government pursued their own agenda without taking a clear position on behalf of Tehran. It was this passivity on the part of the diplomatic apparatus that escalated the level of hostility to such an extent that Iranian-Pakistani relations were seriously jeopardized.

This position of the Foreign Minister and the diplomatic apparatus in Tehran continues to be passive, and it seems to be causing the escalation of hostilities between Tehran and Islamabad. It is said that Pakistani officials have spoken about the need for a more serious approach towards Iran, and the Iranian embassy in Pakistan remains without an ambassador. This is happening at a time when diplomacy is supposed to be at its peak during conflicts and confrontations, but it appears that neither the Foreign Minister of the 13th government nor any intention exists to adopt such an approach.


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