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Atom Chief Becomes Acting Foreign Minister

by HOMYLAFAYETTE

13 Dec 2010 21:0010 Comments
SalehiMusing.jpgMajles foreign affairs chair: "Isn't Mr. Mottaki on a trip?"

[ dispatch ] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has unceremoniously replaced Manouchehr Mottaki, the longtime foreign minister of the Islamic Republic, with the head of the country's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, according to a terse statement posted to the presidency's site early Monday afternoon.

Salehi was named the caretaker of the ministry as any change to the cabinet must be confirmed by the legislature before it becomes official. Article 135 of the constitution allows the president to name a caretaker minister for a maximum of three months.

This development may signal a new round of acrimony between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Majles. Mottaki reportedly enjoyed broad support in the parliament and had been endorsed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a televised meeting with the government on August 30. "If Mottaki is replaced, the president should expect a strong reaction from the Majlis," Mohammad Karamirad, member of the National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee of the legislature, had said around the same time.

The president's office published a two-sentence decree appointing Salehi and a separate short letter thanking Mottaki for his service. No further information or explanation was provided in the statement.

The dismissal appears particularly brusque since Mottaki is currently in Senegal, bearing a message from Ahmadinejad to President Abdoulaye Wade.

Alaeddine Boroujerdi, the chairman of the National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee, told Khabar Online's reporter that he was unaware of the news. "Isn't Mr. Mottaki on a trip?" he asked the reporter. "You mean the dismissal decree was issued while he was on a mission?"

Boroujerdi directed the reporter to contact Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast for more information.

Homylafayette, a Tehran Bureau contributor, blogs here.

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10 Comments

One annoying aspect of the Iranian culture is how "friendly," we are always said to be toward foreigners.

This stands in sharp contrast when compared with the cold and calculating cultures of the West.

To those Iranians who have lived and worked abroad in an unsheltered environment, it quickly becomes evident that if you are unduly "friendly," to an average foreigner they will always assume one of two things about you: 1. you want something from them, and 2. you are afraid of them.

You learn the above lesson very quickly if you have ever 'worked,' abroad on your own without depending on anyone; notwithstanding dad's money!

But if you are the foreign minister of a powerful country, and you are unduly 'friendly,' with your foreigner counterparts, and you smile too much, they will think you are incompetent. This is what may have happened to Mottaki. He was on the job for five years, and yes, one too many 'friendly,' gestures with foreign counterparts or colleagues and what happens is he takes his eyes off the ball.

This is what happens when you smile at foreigners too much. They come and live on your soil (Mr. Gass, are you out there?) and they criticize you unduly, when their own countries have such pathetic human rights violations' records. Someone ought to remind Mr. Gass about his government's actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, we won't bother to mention what MI6 is up to in various regions in Africa.

The latest rows with Gambia and embassador Gass are a few recent symptoms of a foreign ministry that was taking its eyes off the ball much too often.

It was time for Mr. Mottaki to go. Excellent decision by President Ahmadinejad.

Ekbatana / December 14, 2010 5:12 AM

@Ekbatana: Too friendly? You have literally no idea what you are talking about, especially in relations to international diplomacy. Iranians are not friendly or warm at all, they just act that way, and are just as cold and calculating if not more so, so why don't you pack up your outdated stereotypes and go home. I've received more kindness from strangers in the West than I have from some of my own Iranian relatives.

Even if governments have an adversarial relationship, it is the responsibility of diplomats to keep channels open

Case and point the Nixon-Kissinger negotiations with China in 1969. Even though these countries were bitter enemies, they were able to recognize mutual interests and negotiate. Despite the bitter relationship (remember the US and China had fought in the Korean War, and the US supported the PRC's bitter enemies in Taiwan), Zhou Enlai and other negotiators were pragmatic and took a friendly attitude toward Kissinger because they understood foreign relations were iterated long-term affairs, and even easily gave concessions on minor issues to build trust and rapport.

This idea that Ahmadinejad & Co's gesturing somehow makes him strong is a misnomer. Iran's diplomats have lost a lot of respect and this has considerably weakened Iran's position. This useless gesturing highlights Iran's impotence, if anything.

I suggest you read a book or even try working in negotiations before talking about something you clearly have no conception of.

Farzan / December 14, 2010 12:17 PM

Ekbatana,
1-Do you think that this excellent choice will be confirmed by the Majlis?and if he is!!!
2-Will his excellency add to the number of world powers like Borkina fasoa,Bolivia and the Komor Islands to IRI sphere of backers?
3-last but not least,will he be able to increase the number of U.N. delegates from the usual handful who might come to listen to Ahmadinejad's enlightening speach about The Messiah and world management next September?

(Safsate hadi darad)

Anonymous / December 14, 2010 4:54 PM

> They come and live on your soil (Mr. Gass, are you out there?) and they
> criticize you unduly, when their own countries have such pathetic human
> rights violations' [sic] records.
Interesting to see you claim the British Embassy is Iranian "soil", as by established precedent the embassies of foreign nations are the sovereign territory of their respective nation. I am aware that there has been a movement inside Iran to attack the British Embassy (indeed I seem to recall this issue was raised in the Majlis after the post-election protests), and we now hear the same claims ("nest of spies") that were raised before the highly-orchestrated US Embassy attack. Ho hum, business as usual then.

Ian / December 14, 2010 7:41 PM

@Farzan,
Mottaki had become a weak link and he had to go. Pure and simple.

"...I've received more kindness from strangers in the West than I have from some of my own Iranian relatives..."

Obviously, your Iranian relatives know you better than the starngers in the West.

"...it is the responsibility of diplomats to keep channels open..."

Correct! In that case, why did Mr. Mottaki went around his boss (President Ahmadinejad) and spoke with the Supreme Leader when he had some disagreements and differences of opinion with his own boss? If Mr. Mottaki could not even keep the channels open and resolve differences of opinion and strategy with his own boss, who speaks his mother tongue and grew up in the same culture as he, what chance did Mr. Mottaki have to be an effective diplomat when dealing with foreign diplomats? In fact, he did not have the necessary skills for the job. That is why he had to go.

"...Iran's diplomats have lost a lot of respect..."

If the deputy US secreatry of state had some deep differences of opinion and strategy with Mrs. Clinton and instead of settling the matter with the boss went around and spoke with Obama about it behind closed doors (not that that would be allowed) the deputy secretary of state would lose all respect, too; naturally, of course. Mottaki had to go.

@Anonymous,
"...Do you think that this excellent choice will be confirmed by the Majlis?"

If he survives terrorist attacks by the zionist intelligence service, Mossad, he might.


"...the embassies of foreign nations are the sovereign territory of their respective nation..."

Imagine that!! A zionist talking about the notion of "sovereign territory." The voice of the herd that justify violating the sanctity and destruction of tens of thousands of Palestinian homes day-in and day-out is the same voice that speaks of the "sovereign territory," of the British Embassy.

Ekbatana / December 14, 2010 10:53 PM

It's a change charged with a new sense of potential. Salehi is a very impressive figure. Will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

Ahmadinejad pulled off the change in a clumsy fashion, nevertheless this is a positive development.

Pirouz / December 14, 2010 10:57 PM

Farzan&Ian,
To have a meaningful debate and argument,you need people who can understand reason and logic.fortunately IRI defenders lack both.

Anonymous / December 15, 2010 12:55 AM

"...To have a meaningful debate and argument,you need people who can understand reason and logic..."

And those whom you imply possess a copyright on "reason and logic," should be stripped away from their nuclear arsenals and machine guns, because they have the power of "reason and logic," on their side.

Ekbatana / December 15, 2010 3:25 AM

Ekbatana

well said.

in his interviews, Mottaki consistently failed to explain Iran's position and he was too "nice." He easily backed off.

I recently saw Dr. Salehi's interview on Al-Jazeera, and I found him well versed, forceful yet polite and did not give an inch.

These guys would say anything just to humiliate Iran, including fabrication. The whole world is in economic meltdown, Europe is at its worst, yet they constantly trash talk Iran's economy despite its continued record of growth, surplus reserves, cutting subsidies, and balanced budgets. Instead of lecturing them, we could learn a thing or two from them.

Anonymous / December 18, 2010 11:37 AM

Ekbatana

well said.

in his interviews, Mottaki consistently failed to explain Iran's position and he was too "nice." He easily backed off.

I recently saw Dr. Salehi's interview on Al-Jazeera, and I found him well versed, forceful yet polite and did not give an inch.

These guys would say anything just to humiliate Iran, including fabrication. The whole world is in economic meltdown, Europe is at its worst, yet they constantly trash talk Iran's economy despite its continued record of growth, surplus reserves, cutting subsidies, and balanced budgets. Instead of lecturing them, we could learn a thing or two from them.

Anonymous / December 18, 2010 11:37 AM