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September 2, 2009

TB: Ahmadinejad looking for 80 new ambassdors, FM in “chaos”

Tehran Bureau is reporting that President Ahmadinejad is not just looking to replace the 40 ambassadors previously reported, but 40 more as well. This apparently stems from the Foreign Ministry’s state of disarray:

Two reliable sources in Iran’s foreign ministry have told the author [Muhammad Sahimi] that the ministry is in chaos, with at least two factions vying for influence. One group consists of the traditional conservatives that have been at the Ministry since Ali Akbar Velayati was the Foreign Minister from 1981-1997. The second group consists of those who have been brought by Ahmadinejad into the Ministry, with very little, if any, experience in foreign affairs.
Although Manouchehr Mottaki is officially Iran’s Foreign Minister, he is often overruled by the hardliners. The men who have more power than Mottaki are Saeed Jalili, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and the chief nuclear negotiator, and Velayati who is the Supreme Leader’s advisor on foreign affairs. Ahmadinejad tried to appoint Jalili as the new Foreign Minister, but the appointment was blocked by higher authorities (i.e., the Supreme Leader and his inner circle). It was decided that Mottaki will stay on as the Foreign Minister, apparently signaling that hard-line Saeedi will not lead Iran’s negotiations with the West.
Iran’s most seasoned diplomats have either been forced into retirement, or have left the foreign ministry. In their place there are and will more people whose only “qualification” is close ties to Ahmadinejad and the hardliners. Fars News Agency, which is controlled by the IRGC, has reported that the new ambassadors will be selected from amongst those “experts who believe in the principles of the Revolution,” hard-liners’ new code word for those who support their election coup. Sadegh Mahsouli, the former Interior Minister, is rumored to become Iran’s representative to the United Nations.
In an apparent gaffe, Fars reported that one reason the ambassadors were being replaced en masse, was that many of them supported the demonstrations against the rigged election. Rooz, the online daily, reported that some of the ambassadors to be axed had refused to video tape the demonstrations that took place by Iranians in the Diaspora in front of their embassies in foreign capitals, in order to identify the leaders of the demonstrations.

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