Iran is at a turning point in its history. The ongoing protests, which cover economic and social issues, have grown and there are now consistent calls for regime change. The Iranian people recognize that the current regime is a criminal enterprise and they are no longer willing to put up with the actions of those in leadership positions.
As a response, the regime is attempting to pacify the people by making changes in Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet. However, these changes are just token efforts that do not address the corruption and mismanagement that are rampant throughout the Iranian government. Case in point is the attempted resignation by Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Foreign Minister and Iran’s top diplomat.
Understanding Zarif’s Role in the Regime
Zarif submitted his resignation to President Rouhani and on Thursday, Rouhani rejected his resignation. On March 1st, Zarif returned to work at his post in the cabinet. For some in Iran, this attempted resignation sends a signal to the international community that Iran’s economic and social crises have engulfed the senior-level decision making process.
Others in the regime are angry because his attempted resignation overshadowed the efforts of the regime to focus on Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s visit to Tehran, including a propaganda campaign around that event.
Another reality is also coming clear, and that is the foreign policy of Iran is not being controlled by Zarif or Rouhani. Efforts to connect with the international community through foreign policy decisions include the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the U.S. withdrew from in May of 2018.
“The Foreign Ministry has not delivered an acceptable report card under Zarif and it finally ended with the nuclear deal catastrophe as the main such example in this regard…Our foreign enemies are describing Zarif’s resignation in a manner to ridicule the [regime] as a failed state,” said Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of Kayhan Daily, which is known as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s mouthpiece.
It appears that the regime is reaching an escalation of the power struggle happening within the regime. Rival ruling factions are blaming each other for the problems facing the regime, instead of acknowledging the impact of their actions and decisions. To create real change, the regime would have to complete a major shift, which is not possible when it keeps focusing on repression, human rights abuses, and terrorism.
“This is no longer a tactical issue. It is very much a strategic subject that needs our destroyed foreign policy’s return to a path opened through the 2015 nuclear deal…In such circumstances, if we fail to fully adopt the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) resolutions, this could lead to even the president having no choice but resigning,” said Fereydoon Majlesi, a former diplomat with the regime.
The FATF resolutions are critical to allowing Iran to continue functioning in the international financial realm. However, the regime continues to kick these resolutions down the road.
Members of Iranian Regime Support Zarif
In response to his resignation, the top commander of the Iranian notorious Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, said, “Zarif is in charge of the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic and has the approval of senior establishment officials, especially Iranian regime Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei. During the visit of [Syrian regime president] Bashar al-Assad to Tehran and his meeting with Rouhani, there was a lack of coordination in the presidential institution, which resulted in the absence of the FM and his dissatisfaction.”
Zarif played a criminal role against the Iranian people and against peace and security in the region and in the world during the last decades, and especially in the past five and a half years as the Foreign Minister. With the help of the appeasement policy, he has tried to portray suppression, murder, plunder at home, as well as terrorism and fundamentalism abroad, as moderation and justification for those who have sought to trade with Iran’s religious fascism.
The combination of the failure of the appeasement policy used by the international community, the uprising of the Iranian people, and the powerful international presence of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the PMOI/MEK in recent weeks through European cities, such as Paris, Warsaw, and Munich.
In the past year, Iran has been credited with increased terror activities abroad, especially in Europe, against members and supporters of the Iranian opposition, which is represented by the democratic alternative and coalition of the NCRI. The terror plots have been planned and executed through the regime’s embassies and it is clear the regime’s foreign ministry is taking advantage of its diplomatic clearances to attack the opposition.
This campaign of attacking the opposition appears to be the place where the regime’s factions can come together. They recognize that without the distraction of the attacks against the opposition, the Iranian people will see how they are destroying Iran. However, these distraction techniques are no longer working. The protests and demonstrations are showcasing that the Iranian people no longer want to spend their lives waiting for change, but are going to create it for themselves.