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Hossein Amirabdollahian (born 1964) is a top choice for foreign minister and is leading Raisi’s foreign policy transition team. He has a PhD in international relations from Tehran University and has served as ambassador to Bahrain (2007-2010); deputy foreign minister Arab and African Affairs in the Foreign Ministry (2011-2016); and the international affairs deputy of the parliament and advisor to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif since 2016. A staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause and closely allied with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), he has been involved with the Iranian nuclear negotiations during Mohammad Khatami’s presidency (1997-2005) and took part in the US-Iran negotiations in Iraq in 2007;
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, a senior Iranian diplomat close to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC);
He first came to the attention of the outside world in 2007 when he was assigned to be a member of a small team of Iranian negotiators who met in three rounds with American counterparts on the security situation in Iraq. They would face US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and his team in Baghdad. The other two prominent Iranians in those talks were Hassan Kazemi Qomi and Hassan Danaei-far, the then Iranian ambassador to Baghdad and his subsequent replacement.
Both men hail from the IRGC’s Qods Force, which runs the IRGC’s foreign operations and was spearheading Iranian policies in Iraq. Amir-Abdollahian was at the time in charge of the foreign ministry’s special headquarters on Iraqi affairs. This was at best no more than a liaison office with the Qods Force having the undisputed upper hand in shaping and implementing Tehran’s Iraq policy.
That Amir-Abdollahian – a relatively young man and of junior rank at the time,at least by the standards of the Iranian diplomatic corps – was part of the first open rounds of talks with the Americans since the Iranian revolution in 1979, speaks volumes about the trust that at least the IRGC puts in him. This is probably no truer than for General Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Qods Force.
At the onset of the Arab Spring in early 2011, Abdollahian was recalled to Tehran and appointed to his present role as deputy foreign minister of Arab and African affairs. The Qods Force was soon massively escalating its operations in the region – from militarily aiding the –Al-Assad regime in Syria to reassuring Iran’s allies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthi movement in Yemen – on levels not previously seen. And General Suleimani and the Qods Force would have no one other than Amir-Abdollahian at the foreign ministry to make sure policy discrepancies are avoided. He became both the chief liaison officer between the IRGC and the foreign ministry and the IRGC’s unofficial diplomatic spokesperson.
When the Israelis on January, 18, 2015 attacked a convoy in the Syrian sector of the Golan Heights that led to the death of a senior IRGC commander, it was Abdollahian who first publicly vowed retaliation by the IRGC. The commander, Mohammad Ali Allah-Dadi, was a member of the Qods Force, and handpicked by General Suleimani. Amir-Abdollahian claimed to have told the Americans that the Israelis had “crossed Iran’s red line” and had to “wait for the consequences.” Ten days later, Hezbollah struck at an Israeli convey on the Israel-Lebanon border, killing two and wounding seven Israelis.
Amir-Abdollahian was not officially a member of the IRGC’s Qods Force, but to call him a diplomat alone was always to confuse why the man rose so quickly to a senior position within the Iranian foreign ministry. He was in essence the embodiment of compromise-making between two of Iran’s key foreign policy decision-makers: the foreign ministry and the IRGC. At the same time, Amir-Abdollahian’s ability to remain a key foreign policy figure in Tehran shows that the IRGC has no intention to let the likes of Zarif stand in the way of IRGC’s military campaigns in the region.
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Reason for the color:
» Raisi’s cabinet – Hardline and full of war vets;