The commander of Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods force, General Qassem Soleimani issued a statement on February 27 to mollify Mohammad Javad Zarif’s resentment, which apparently led him to resign two days earlier.
When Zarif announced his resignation he referred to the fact that he was not invited to attend meetings with the visiting Syrian strongman Bashar Assad who was visiting Tehran. Mr. Soleimani, on the other hand was present both in the meeting with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and with President Hassan Rouhani.
IRGC news agency quoted Soleimani as saying, “There was no intention behind doctor Zarif’s absence from the meeting”.
Soleimani’s statement and his getting involved in Zarif’s resignation issue show that the Assad meetings did play a major role in the foreign minister’s decision to quit.
In addition to Zarif’s absence, Rouhani was also not present in Assad’s meeting with Khamenei.
Soleimani has further reiterated that Iran’s foreign minister is indeed in charge of the country’s foreign relations.
Zarif’s resignation came abruptly, creating a shock among Iranians. President Rouhani and a majority of parliament members immediately came to his defense and eventually Rouhani rejected the resignation, leading Zarif to say he will stay on.