The news comes at a time when Iran is becoming increasing isolated from the rest of the world. The country is facing many challenges, not just from the international community, but also on the domestic front where the people of Iran have been making continued calls for regime change.
On a personal level, Javad Zarif has been under pressure from the hardliners in Iran, especially with regards to his role in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiations and because of his support of diplomatic efforts to keep the deal in place following the economic sanctions that U.S. President Trump re-imposed after the United States’ departure from the deal.
Javad Zarif’s resignation, however, was not accepted by President Hassan Rouhani who said that it is “against the country’s interests”. Despite not giving a reason for his resignation in his Instagram post, Javad Zarif said the following day that he was feeling side-lined. He also said to a reporter: “The deadly poison for foreign policy is for foreign policy to become an issue of party and factional fighting.”
He returned to work on 1st March but this whole incident goes to show how split the Iranian regime is and how the internal crisis is deepening. The international community can now see just how much in-fighting there is, even at senior level.
The Iranian regime is controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Senior officials in the regime have very little power or authority over how the government is run. Even President Hassan Rouhani has very little power.
This is another issue that is becoming more and more obvious and something that the regime cannot deny or hide. This goes for foreign policy – Javad Zarif, under normal circumstances, would have a significant degree of control over foreign policy, but in Iran he is just a puppet of the Supreme Leader.
The editor of Kayhan Daily, Hossein Shariatmadari, with close links to the Supreme Leader, said: “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.”
A split in the leadership with regards to the anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism bills is also portraying the regime as weak. High-level officials are having trouble deciding whether to adopt the new legislation that the government was in favour of.
The regime is based on terrorism and corruption so adopting the new legislation would be suicidal. Yet it would also be equally suicidal for the regime to reject the new legislation because it would isolate the country from the international community even further.