As if Iran wasn’t in the news enough these days.
Five Iranian ambassadors have been sacked as the country’s hardliners tighten their grip on foreign policy following the election of the conservative president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran’s ambassador to Britain, Seyed Mohammad Hossein Adeli, is among the casualties of the purge. A press spokesman for the Iranian embassy said: “The ambassador’s term has been terminated after one year of serving in London.”
Mr Adeli, an experienced hand who is close to Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the unsuccessful candidate in the Iranian presidential election, is returning to Tehran. The other envoys recalled to Tehran are the ambassadors to Paris, Geneva, Berlin and Kuala Lumpur.
Forgetting the Iranian presiden’ts recent comments, I’d first note three of the five suddenly unemployed ambassadors were to the “EU3″ countries negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program. This alone is a rather bold “fuck you” to send to the Europeans at a time when Iran’s possible referral to the UNSC seems to be nearing. Why would the Iranian leadership axe their ambassadors to Europe?
Western Diplomats claim it is a sign of the increasingly hard line Iranian foreign policy is taking. Afterall, it was the Iranians who torpedoed nuke talks by restarting uranium enrichment. And, Iran has unofficially put sanctions on Great Britain and South Korean for who supported the IAEA vote against them, showing they are willing to play hardball. With record contracts for oil and natural gas being signed left and right and the price of oil staying sky high, Iran isn’t sitting as bad as some may think. Additionally, Iran’s top negotiators over their nuclear program have recently quit:
The trend was started when former head of the National Security Council, Hassan Rowhani, resigned in the summer, to be replaced by Larijani. He was followed out by Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s ambassador to the UN and widely considered to be a pragmatist with a moderating influence over Iran’s foreign policy. Zarif’s departure was a double blow to any hopes Iran had of restarting talks with the US as he had been involved in closed-door talks with Washington in 2001 on the formation of a post-Taliban government for Afghanistan and then again before the invasion of Iraq.
With America’s reputation being damaged diplomatically due to our unilateral action in Iraq, our military’s reputation being damaged by being unable to win a decisive victory in the same country and Europe’s tradition of appeasing enemies, Iran is feeling increasingly ballsy, and understandably so. Yet, is rookie president Ahmadinejad leading his country down a path to conflict? He’s already proven himself to be inept, by trying to appoint unqualified people for ministry positions and now by getting rid of some of Iran’s top diplomats when they are most needed.
The axed diplomats and now gone negotiators essentially equal death of negotiations. According to the Asia Times, the last diplomatic option left is through Russia, who has enough credibility in the East and West to fore Iran to quit its uranium enrichment program and allow the entire process to be overseen by the Russians. Yet, would such a bargain only lead to another North Korea a few years down the line? Or is it time to give the Iranians their nukes and coopt them as Thomas Barnett always pushes?
For more detailed information on Iran’s nuclear program, click here.