DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The nuclear deal with the world powers has once animated the political fortunes of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his trusted foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Now it threatens to sink them.
Faced with growing political and economic pressure, after President Donald Trump decided to withdraw America from the nuclear deal, Zarif abruptly resigned on Monday, and Rouhani is now once again faced with hardened perpetrators to do the same. 19659003] While Rouhani has not yet accepted Zarif's resignation, the relatively moderate cleric has hardened his tone towards the West. The fallout has also exposed internal tensions within the Iranian theocracy, in which both elected officials and paramilitary forces respond to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Late on Monday, Zarif posted a photograph on Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, as the Iranians commemorate their birth on Tuesday. He wrote in the caption: "I sincerely apologize for the inability to continue the service and for all shortcomings during my service." Minutes later, Iran's state-run IRNA news agency confirmed by a spokesman that Zarif (59) had resigned.
That remains unclear. Zarif reportedly told the diplomat on Tuesday morning that his resignation would further strengthen the State Department's defense of those who attacked him. The remarks came after Syrian President Bashar Assad of Khamenei and General Qassem Soleimani, head of an elite unit within the Revolutionary Guard, had been received. Photos of the public media releases showed no sign of Zarif participation.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Zarif was the main negotiator of the 201
His resignation takes place in increasing criticism of this approach. The Iranians celebrated the signing of the nuclear agreement, which promised to lift criminal sanctions in exchange for Tehran, which restricts uranium enrichment. The agreement, however, was called into question by Trump's election and he retired last year, restoring the sanctions.
As a result, most Iranians did not see any benefit from the business or from Rouhani's and Zarif's efforts. The Iranian currency has eased over the past year, wiping out people's life savings and raising prices. Sporadic protests have broken out, and Rouhani has recently adopted a stronger tone over the West.
WHO IS UNDERLAG?
The Supreme Leader has the last word in all affairs of state and serves as commander-in-chief of the country's chief. The Iranian presidents have a four-year term and are subordinate to the supreme leader, but still have significant influence on domestic policy and foreign policy. Iran also has an elected parliament.
Within their elected government, politicians are roughly divided into reformists who seek to change Iran's political system from within. Hardliners who believe that the Supreme Leader is the chosen representative of God and wants a more confrontational approach to the West; and moderated, which represent a middle way.
But there is also the Revolutionary Guard, which answers directly to the supreme leader. The Guard's political and economic influence has increased in recent years, and Soleimani has emerged as a national hero over his role in leading his military interventions in the region. Many Iranians say they trust the Guard more than the civilian government, suggesting that it should play an even bigger role.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Now Rouhani has to decide whether to accept or reject Zarif's resignation. Analysts and others say this is Zarif's third resignation last year, but the first one became public. It is also probable that Zarif first spoke with the Supreme Leader in order to seek his permission, which would further put pressure on Rouhani.
If Rouhani accepts his resignation, the election of Zarif's successor will signal the President's future approach to the West. US inspectors say Iran is still holding the nuclear deal. However, Iran can decide with further disappointment that it can win more if it withdraws from the agreement or threatens to do so.
In any case, Rouhani could be the next as hardliners increasingly talk about indicting him
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap.