This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has said that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wanted to resign in February because he had not been informed about a surprise visit to Tehran by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
President Hassan Rohani ultimately rejected Zarif’s resignation, throwing his full support behind the diplomat who had negotiated Tehran’s nuclear deal with six world powers.
Zarif later returned to his job.
Both Rohani and Zarif are moderate allies who have come under increased pressure from Iranian hard-liners since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal and began to pressure Washington’s European allies to follow his lead.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said on March 5 that “one of the reasons” for Zarif’s resignation was the “lack of coordination with the Foreign Ministry” by other Iranian officials in cases such as Assad’s visit.
— Al Jazeera News (@AJENews) March 5, 2019
Assad was warmly received in Tehran on February 25 by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Their meeting also was attended by Rohani and General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of an elite unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.