The reasons for the absence of the Iranian FM from the Saudi-Iran negotiation

After informal conversations about the possibility of dismissing Hussein Amir Abdollahian as Iran’s foreign minister, after the execution of his former assistant “Ali Reza Akbari” on charges of spying on Iran for Britain and the West, we can here explain the Iranian National Security Council Secretary “Ali Shamkhani” carrying out sensitive foreign missions.  And re-exporting it to the Iranian political scene internationally, with a reference to the failure of Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdollahian in the major Iranian tasks assigned to him.  Here, there are many reasons and explanations for questioning the logic and reasons for the absence of the Iranian foreign minister from tasks that fall within the competence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, such as the Chinese agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran under the auspices of China, and other important visits that “Ali Shamkhani” made to the Emirates and Iraq, and others.

  The selection of “Ali Shamkhani” as Secretary of the Iranian National Security Council at the present time as a substitute for any role for Foreign Minister “Hussein Amir Abdollahian” reflects the complete lack of confidence in the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, despite the denial of the Iranian Foreign Minister “Hussein Amir Abdollahian” of the existence of any differences.  On the institutions that draw foreign policy in his country, in response to the absence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from “Shamkhani’s regional tours”, and his confirmation of the existence of coordination under the supervision of the Iranian president between all institutions in the Iranian state.  Here, the Iranian Supreme National Security Council’s selection of “Ali Shamkhani” to carry out the task of achieving regional calm between Tehran and Riyadh indicates that the ruling establishment in Tehran may have reached the conclusion that the Foreign Ministry team does not have the necessary effectiveness to obtain the confidence to play this role.  Then that task was entrusted to a more efficient body, the National Security Council, under the supervision of an experienced politician “Ali Shamkhani”.

  It is the same as what was concluded and analyzed by the Iranian newspaper “Arman Melli”, which is affiliated with the reformist movement in the Iranian state, that the Iranian regime’s choice of the Supreme National Security Council led by “Ali Shamkhani” as a substitute for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reflects the desire of the Iranian leadership and institutions to remove the negative effects that  I joined the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its position in diplomatic relations between Iran and the countries of the world during the last period, and the obstacles and challenges it caused in the face of Tehran’s foreign policy. Hence, Iran is counting a lot at the present time on the role of “Ali Shamkhani” compared to the Minister of Foreign Affairs as one of the most prominent Iranian political leaders, with a history full of many important positions, the most important of which is the position of Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, which is concerned with deciding defense and national security policies.  Here, Iran relies a lot on the role of “Ali al-Shamkhani” more than any other person in the Iranian authority, as a bridge between fundamentalists and reformists within the Iranian regime itself, in addition to that any agreement signed by the Iranian president and his foreign minister with Western countries must be approved by the Supreme Leader of the regime. Therefore, “Ali Shamkhani” is now the only suitable person for Iran’s aspirations, internally and externally.

  Also, the strong role that “Ali Shamkhani” plays at the present time in managing many files of Iranian foreign policy in accordance with the Iranian constitution is considered one of the basis and essence of his responsibilities as Secretary of the Iranian National Security Council, which include: defining defense and national security policies and coordinating political, intelligence and economic activities.  related to the country’s security, and facing internal and external threats.  Here, “Shamkhani” is also famous for being the first Arab to occupy such a sensitive position in the corridors of Iranian politics, which reflects his enjoyment of the confidence of the Supreme Leader of the revolution “Ali Khamenei” and his strong loyalty to the regime. Therefore, he was the favorite figure of the Iranians to negotiate the file of restoring relations with Saudi Arabia, given his Arab and not Persian roots in the Arab city of Ahwaz, southwestern Iran.

 Here, the Arab affiliation of “Shamkhani” is one of his qualifications that made the Iranian regime keen to place him in the forefront always, as he is a member of the Ahwazi Arab people, which weakens any American or Western accusations regarding Iran’s treatment of the Ahwazi minorities.  The mere presence of this person like “Ali Shamkhani” at the head of the Iranian authority contributes to weakening the credibility of the narratives of oppression of the Arabs under the rule of the Persians, and makes the Ahwazi resistance movements seeking independence appear as if they lack justifications for their existence under a regime that opens its arms to all nationalities, and therefore the Ahwazi organizations describe it as a safety valve.  for the system.

The most important reason that prompted the Iranian regime to rely mainly on “Ali Shamkhani” in the negotiation file with Saudi Arabia, mediated by China, is due to his Arab affiliation, with what is known about “Ali Shamkhani” in his communication with neighboring Arab countries.  He was the first Iranian defense minister to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since the founding of the Iranian Republic, and he also received the King Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal, during the reign of King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, for his role in improving relations between the two countries, and he signed a security agreement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which contributed to  Reducing tensions between the two regional rivals.

 Hence, we understand that Ali Shamkhani was chosen to manage the process of restoring and improving Tehran’s relations with the neighboring Arab countries and coordinating many files for Iran at the international level, and it may be attributed to you for a number of reasons, the most important of which are: His Arab origins from the city of Ahwaz in southwestern Iran his affiliation with the reformist movement, as “Shamkhani” is considered one of the figures affiliated with the reformist movement inside Iran, which is known to be less severe in its view of dealing with neighboring countries, in contrast to the fundamentalist or conservative movement that may adopt a revolutionary stance that does not appeal to neighboring countries, because it is based  On the idea of ​​(exporting the revolution and the centrality of Iran playing an external role through its arms that destabilize the security and stability of the countries of the region), which is not welcomed by neighboring countries and the international community. On the other hand, Shamkhani’s holding of many high-ranking positions within the Iranian military and intelligence services made him fully aware of the Iranian strategy in the region, which is based on work to emptied it of foreign forces and American and Western influence, how to confront Israeli threats to Iran, and other challenges.

  The position of “Ali Shamkhani” at the present time has provided Tehran with a greater outlet, as Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, to exercise more influential and effective external roles, with a prominent role in monitoring the political situation in the countries that revolve in Tehran’s orbit according to the concept of Iranian national security, which includes Tehran’s influence in  Arab region, mainly Saudi Arabia.  Shamkhani also had an influential role on the political decision in the countries in which Iran interferes, as he was entrusted with the decision to remove the former Iraqi Prime Minister, “Nuri al-Maliki” from power, and to bring in “Haider al-Abadi” to succeed him during the crisis after the 2014 elections, which coincided with the invasion of ISIS.  ISIS terrorist in Iraq.

   Ali Shamkhani also succeeded in managing the files of the raging and burning war in Iraq and Syria, and the most dangerous file of managing the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the major countries. Therefore, the Iranian authorities issued “Ali Shamkhani” as responsible for managing the Iranian national security file as a substitute for the foreign minister as a trustworthy person in Iran and internationally, especially since he is an Iranian diplomat of Ahwazi Arab origins who attracts the attention of many political circles, the media and analysts in Washington and the West.

    Accordingly, the status of “Ali Shamkhani” and his position at the head of the Iranian National Security Council has a special place among the Chinese in managing the negotiation file with the Saudi side, with a joint Iranian and perhaps unannounced desire to transfer the powers of Iran’s nuclear file to the National Security Council.  It is also now likely that the emergence of “Shamkhani” at the head of the Supreme National Security Council at the forefront of Iran’s diplomatic moves will enhance the possibility of transferring the powers of the negotiation file on the nuclear program from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the National Security Council led by “Ali Shamkhani” again, which is  What Iran, China and Russia are strongly pushing its allies towards, given that he is more familiar with the affairs and files of managing Tehran’s foreign policy than the Iranian foreign minister himself.

Dr.Nadia Helmy
Dr.Nadia Helmy
Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit