Extra: Ahmadinejad Fires Foreign Minister, Appoints Salehi as 'Interim'
by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI
13 Dec 2010 21:06
In two letters, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has appointed Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and one of his 12 vice presidents, as the country's interim foreign minister, and has fired Manouchehr Mottaki from the position. This happened while Mottaki is in Senegal to convey his boss's message to the president of that country.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Majles' National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said that he is shocked by the news and that he had not been informed, learning about it it only when reporters asked for his views on the matter. He also said that there had not been any talk or speculation about the potential for Mottaki's removal. Another member of the committee, Mohammad Karami Rad, who represents Kermanshah, said that it would have been better if Mottaki's firing had taken place after some deliberation and consultation. Other long-time diplomats, such as Hamid Reza Asefi, former spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, refused to comment.
In August 2009, when Ahmadinejad was putting together the cabinet for his second administration, he tried to replace Mottaki with Saeed Jalili, secretary-general of Iran's Supreme National Security Council and chief nuclear negotiator, but was blocked by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Jalili himself received his appointments in a surprise move when, in 2007, Ali Larijani was removed from the two posts.
The latest move is another indication of mounting tension between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei. Two weeks ago, the Supreme Leader met with a group of experts to discuss an "Islamic-Iranian way" of development -- none of Ahmadinejad's cabinet members were invited.
Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau
Iran's President Fires Foreign Minister
Washington Post | Dec 13
The president thanked Manouchehr Mottaki for his more than five years of service -- spanning Ahmadinejad's entire time in office -- but gave no explanation for the change in a brief statement on his website.
In the past year, there were reports that Mottaki opposed a decision by Ahmadinejad to appoint his own special foreign envoys to key areas such as the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Caspian Sea region. Mottaki found the appointments embarrassing to the foreign ministry and allegedly took his complaint to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters.
Khamenei reportedly sided with Mottaki, forcing Ahmadinejad to moderate his position and change their title only to the level of advisers.
It was not immediately clear how long Salehi would remain in the caretaker role. The semiofficial Fars news agency says Mohammad Ghannadi, a prominent nuclear scientist, is expected to replace Salehi as the new nuclear chief -- an indication Ahmadinejad wants him to keep the job permanently. Ghannadi is currently Salehi's deputy at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.
Salehi -- or any other candidate -- has to win a vote of confidence from the 290-seat parliament to be appointed to the job.