Brinksmanship: Zarif’s Revolutionary Diplomacy Served him to Re-polish his Glitter

Mohammad S. Alzou’bi

Mohammad S. Alzou’bi, MA candidate in International Policy and Diplomacy at UK Staffordshire University.


The Iranian foreign policy has always formulated a state of controversy among the international community and has confused the policymakers around the world of how to deal with such a double-faced and colored system.

Everybody knows that the significant symbol of the Iranian foreign policy is the senior diplomat, Mohammed Javad Zarif, who served for about two decades in the foreign affairs arena from the UN corridors to the backyard of Iran’s foreign ministry and finally to its forefront.

In his early academic life, Zarif received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in International Relations from San Francisco State University and his doctorate in International Law and Policy from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of International Studies. Moreover, Zarif was the Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations from 2002 to 2007. Zarif has held other domestic and international positions as well such as, senior adviser to the Foreign Minister, Deputy Foreign Minister in Legal and International affairs, member of the prominent personalities of the Dialogue Among Civilizations, Head of the UN Disarmament Committee in New York, member of the prominent personalities of global governance, Deputy in International Affairs of the Islamic Azad University, and he is now the minister of foreign affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

A transformation in Zarif’s personality

As usual, every sign or word of Zarif are continuously monitored and under analysis and study to formulate a reading for the Iranian foreign policy and even the internal status including the relationship between the bipartisan political system in Iran. Zarif’s remarks in the MSC have attracted the world press’s attention, they wondered about his nervous towards the status quo including what happened to his most prominent and foremost achievement of JCPOA. Zarif has fought with his revolutionary diplomacy and fierce struggle to have such a deal that considered historical for his country and let the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei deviate from his extremist perspective towards the west.

Zarif’s nervous speaking in the MSC was a sign not just for a man that is criticizing the middle east countries as allies to the United States. However, there was a sense of agony towards his government, who acts officially in accordance to the international laws, while the other part of the political system is moving like entirely out of all international rules and norms. As if his work built from golden feathers while the Khamenei’s propeller blows this work into the air by the indiscriminate and aggressive statements and acts in the region and beyond. Zarif was anxious about his image among the countries of the world and his glitter in the international arena to be discredited.

A chance and a path forward

Last month, an Instagram post that held the Iranian Foreign Minister’s resignation shocked the world, where he hinted to his ignorance in the state and its actions, while he considered himself as “no need” person while the other part of the Iranian political system is operating even the most straightforward protocols of diplomacy.

Many observers considered this move as an end for Zarif’s career in the diplomatic corps, but the image should be seen from another angle, from Zarif’s perspective. He was making the most significant step in his career, recently, and after the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA, Zarif felt neglected, his internal critics increased, especially policy-makers in the government, Iranian Parliament, and conservatives who opposed the nuclear deal from the beginning. In that case, Zarif planned to play a game with his leaders, but he was waiting for a chance to operate his maneuver and restore his place he followed the brinksmanship. Assad’s visit was the excellent opportunity to express the state of neglecting that the political system of Iran practices towards his position in the country and abroad.

While Khamenei received the decision of Zarif, names have been raised to succeed him. However, Rouhani and the other part of the regime –especially the IRGC’s officials– know that the only man can let Iran out of this deterred situation is the high-ranked negotiator who has lived most of his career life in the UN corridors and who considered as the western version of an Iranian seasoned tricky official.

After Khamenei and Rouhani refused to approve Zarif’s resignation, the savvy senior diplomat ensured his position for another upcoming year, until the Iranian political system checking up the future of Iran among the international community, whether by US-Iran normalization, Saudi-Iranian reconciliation or EU-Iranian final solution for the global crises Iran passing through.

Why should EU and even others concern if Zarif resigned?

Zarif considered as a respective channel for both EU as a western mentality that he coexisted with, understanding and can deal with it, in contrast, he transforms this mentality to a natural language of interests for officials in Iran.

If he has been resigned, the foreign ministry may fall in the wrong hands and will be a setback for both the Iranian political system and its interests and the European Union countries, especially if the position of foreign minister assumed by a conservative or revolutionary-minded person.



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