Mohammad Javad Zarif continues to perform the duties of Iranian foreign minister after his resignation was rejected by President Hassan Rouhani. Zarif was seen on February 27, 2019, alongside Rouhani at a welcoming ceremony for visiting Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Tehran that was broadcast live by the country’s news channel, IRINN. Zarif’s appearance came less than an hour after Rouhani issued a statement formally rejecting Zarif’s resignation.
In his letter to Zarif that was published on the official presidential website, Rouhani wrote:
I appreciate your unceasing efforts during your difficult tenure at the Foreign Ministry during the 11th and 12th governments. It is the belief of myself and the Supreme Leader that you are a trusted, brave and devout individual standing on the front line against America’s multilateral pressures. I think your resignation is against the country’s interests and I reject it.1
The president praised the achievements of the foreign ministry over recent months with regard to everything related to,
dealing with the conspiracies of the United States in New York (the United Nations), in Vienna (IAEA headquarters), Brussels (the European Union), The Hague, Warsaw (the anti-Iran summit), and Munich, and the other political victories achieved in the regional and international arena… The joy expressed by the sworn enemies of Iran, such as the Zionist regime (Israel), over your resignation is a decisive sign of the success of Mohammad Javad Zarif, and the main reason why you will continue in your position as the foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran…. I am relying upon you, and the entire Islamic Republic – and especially the Leader – relies upon you. Persist in your way with courage, tact, and heroism and Allah will stand by the side of his faithful servants.
Rouhani also wrote that he was “completely aware of the pressures on the foreign ministry, the government, and even the president, who was elected by the people.” He added, “We will remain loyal until the end, just as we swore to Allah and the nation, and I am sure that we will manage to overcome this difficult stage with the help of Allah.”
Zarif had announced his resignation in a late-night Instagram post on February 25. The next day, the president’s chief of staff and the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry issued statements saying that Rouhani had rejected the decision.
The rejection of Zarif’s resignation and the backing he and his ministry received from the president do not necessarily foretell the turning of a new leaf in relations between the foreign ministry and the Revolutionary Guard and conservative elements. These influential players are continuing to promote the revolutionary agenda at home and in the international and regional arena. The foreign ministry, in particular, and the president’s office, in general, will continue with their rearguard battle against these elements until the next crisis.
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