Iranian lawmakers demand Rouhani reject FM Zarif's resignation

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif late on Monday unexpectedly announced his resignation, roughly a week after attending the Munich Security Conference with international leaders.
author_image Kosar Nawzad

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif late on Monday unexpectedly announced his resignation, roughly a week after attending the Munich Security Conference with international leaders. 

Zarif was best known as the architect of the nuclear deal that Tehran signed with world powers in 2015.

“…I sincerely apologize for the inability to continue serving, and for all the shortcomings during my service…,” the official wrote on his Instagram page.

Zarif did not point to any specific reason for his decision. It is unclear if the minister has officially turned in his resignation, and if so, the country’s president is yet to accept it.

Following the Tuesday announcement, a majority of lawmakers signed a letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, demanding the minister continue in his post, Iranian media reported.

As foreign minister, he has long been criticized at home by conservative hardliners for seemingly accommodating Western powers. Scornful rhetoric toward Zarif was only compounded when, in May 2018, the US pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was signed during the previous administration of Barrack Obama.

Western powers along with Iran signed the deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), following years of intense negotiations, with Zarif being Iran’s chief negotiator.

The agreement sought to curb the country’s nuclear ambitions in return for the of lifting international sanctions. The current US administration asserts the deal has had the opposite effect, namely having increased Iran’s regional military prowess and influence in proxy wars in the Middle East.

Zarif’s diplomatic career began with him heading Iran’s UN mission. He was given the post of Foreign Minister in August 2013 after then-presidential nominee Rouhani was elected in a landslide victory.

Although Iran’s President-elect is responsible for forming a cabinet, the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has the final say on appointing senior ministers. Khamenei, himself described as a hardliner or a principlist, only gave cautious support for the nuclear deal.

Rouhani is part of the reformist movement of Iran and came into office on promises of opening the country to the world. The reformists’ chief rivals are the hardliners, who are the leading detractors to the warming of ties with Western countries.

In recent months, Rouhani has also been under fire by, mainly, hardliner lawmakers, seeing his cabinet as unable to address the country’s economic woes, which have left parts of the population destitute, with limited opportunities for people to support themselves.

Editing by Nadia Riva