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Iran: Is President's Chief of Staff Rahim-Mashai Taking On Foreign Policy?

Two weeks ago, we noted an extraordinary speech by the 1st Vice President, Mohammad Reza Rahimi, who pronounced that the English were “a bunch of retards run by a Mafia, ruled by a youngster, who is even more of an idiot than his predecssor”, that Australians are "a bunch of cattlemen", and that the South Koreans deserved a good slapping for their support of sanctions against Tehran. And we asked....

Is this the sign that President Ahmadinejad is taking over Iran's foreign policy?

I have to admit: our tongue was firmly in our cheek, especially as Rahimi went on to say that the dollar and euro were "dirty" and would be replaced by the Iranian rial and local currencies in oil sales, that tariffs would go up 200%, and that students would force their parents not to buy foreign goods. It was one thing for the President to make his grand-standing comments on sanctions, "Ambassador of Death" weapons, Zionists, and Iran's global supremacy, but was he really going to turn loose a coterie of advisors to handle Tehran's diplomacy?

Guess what? My tongue is coming out of my cheek.

On Monday, an EA correspondent brought news that Ahmadinejad had special representatives covering Asia, the Caspian Sea area, and Afghanistan. And, to oversee the Near East, he named his controversial Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

Still, Rahim-Mashai holds 18 to 20 other Government appointments, so surely this was just a nice little title to add to his resumé and possibly an excuse to claim expenses for a weekend jaunt to Beirut (which is not nearly as hot as Tehran this time of year)? No need for Iran's diplomats to feel crowded out.

Or maybe....

This afternoon, I got this note from a colleague: "IRNA [Islamic Republic News Agency] is reporting that Mohammad-Reza Forqani, Iran's ambassador to Turkmenistan, has just been designated Director-General for International
Affairs at the Presidential Office by Presidential advisor Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai."

So now Ahmadinejad, far from running solo with his foreign policy pronouncements, has his 1st Vice President making expansive claims about idiot Englishmen and slapping South Koreans, and has special representatives who may be seeking to lead Iran's foreign policy in four of the most sensitive areas of the world. And one of those four representatives --- the one who is widely disliked by key members of Parliament and senior clerics, the one who was forced out of a Vice-Presidential office, only to sneak back into Ahmadinejad's office --- is appointing others to a Presidential foreign policy staff?

Looks like I'll need to put in a phone call to Iranian Foreign Minister (or should that now be Foreign Assistant Minister?) Manouchehr Mottaki for his reaction....

Reader Comments (2)

Do you remember, when, in last fall, the negociations on uranium enrichment failed with 5+1, ( because of SL's policy ) I think it was on EA that you had reported Mashai had had a secret meetings with americans ( I don't recall where were they but I remember of a secret place in a big house or hotel in north of Iran on the mountain !) ( I can't say if it's a dream or seriously it has happened ) ! all this is to say that if true, a star of foreign policy is born ! :-)

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnge-Paris

I realize that Khamenei and others had set Iran's foreign policy direction. But I thought that the foreign minister, Mottaki, reports to the president...doesn't he?

If so, aside from Mashai's involvement, how is thing a big divergence from the normal process?

August 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBahman_Azad

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