• Saturday, Dec 04, 2021
  • Last Update : 01:53 am

Anti-Western hardliner named as new Iran foreign minister

  • Published at 08:44 pm August 11th, 2021
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian
File Photo: Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian attends the Rafidain Center for Dialogue (RCD) Forum in Baghdad on February 04, 2019 AFP

Hossein Amirabdollahian is believed to have close ties with Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah movement and other Iranian proxies 

New President Ebrahim Raisi named an anti-Western diplomat Hossein Amirabdollahian, as foreign minister on Wednesday as Iran and six world powers seek to restore their 2015 nuclear deal.

Amirabdollahian is believed to have close ties with Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah movement and other Iranian proxies around the Middle East.

Raisi, a hardliner under Western sanctions over allegations of human rights abuses when he was a judge, was sworn into office on August 5 with the Islamic Republic's clerical rulers facing growing crises at home and abroad.

The mid-ranking Shia cleric replaced pragmatist Hassan Rouhani as president after an election in June when most prominent rivals - including moderates and reformists - were barred from standing.

Presenting his cabinet to parliament for an expected vote of confidence, Raisi chose Hossein Amirabdollahian as foreign minister and Javad Owji, an ex-deputy oil minister and managing director of the state-run gas company, as oil minister.

"Amirabdollahian is a hard-line diplomat...If the foreign ministry remains in charge of Iran's nuclear dossier, then obviously Tehran will adopt a very tough line in the talks," said an Iranian nuclear negotiator who asked not to be named.

Reports in semi-official Iranian media suggested that the Supreme National Security Council, which reports directly to hardline Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would take over the nuclear talks in Vienna from the foreign ministry, which had been led by relative moderates during Rouhani's administration.

Iran and world powers have been negotiating since April to revive the pact that was repudiated in 2018 by then-US President Donald Trump, who also reimposed sanctions that have devastated Tehran's economy by squeezing its oil exports.

A sixth round of the talks were held on June 20, with Iranian and Western officials saying major gaps remained to be resolved in returning Tehran and Washington to full compliance with the pact. Iran has violated limits on its enrichment of uranium, a possible pathway to nuclear weapons, since 2019.

Parties involved in the talks have yet to set a date for the next round of negotiations.

A former ambassador to Bahrain, Amirabdollahian was deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs between 2011 and 2016. He was deputy chief of mission at Iran’s embassy in Baghdad from 1997-2001.

Iran's hardliner-dominated parliament is not expected to challenge Raisi's picks for sensitive ministries such as foreign affairs and oil, as presidents only select them with the approval of Khamenei.

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