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Iran's Foreign Relations Without Zarif Was A Tough Call

Javad Zarif with president Rohani after two tense days of resignation saga-- 27 Feb 2019

While Iranian analysts discuss Mohammad Javad Zarif's legacy and future after his abrupt resignation as foreign minister, many Iranians on social media express their deep anxieties about Iran after Zarif, if his resignation is accepted.

Iranian analyst Reza Haghighat Nejad wrote on the Persian website of Radio Farda that "During his time as Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif had nine dossiers to tackle: The nuclear talks, war in Syria, Iraq's developments, relations with Saudi Arabia, the war in Yemen, human rights, missile program, relations with America and ratification of the four bills required by FATF."

However, Zarif's activity as foreign minister was focused on three areas: The JCPOA, FATF and relations with the United States, wrote Haghighat Nejad.

The analyst observed that although Zarif had a relatively free hand in dealing with issues relating to the nuclear deal with the West, his hands were tied regarding the other two matters.

According to Haghighat Nejad, Zarif "had no options or plans about the problems of Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, and the missile program."

In another article on Radio Farda's Persian Website, Iranian analyst Ehsan Mehrabi recalled part of a book titled Mr. Ambassador, which is a long interview with Zarif. The author of the book likened Zarif to Hossein Gholi Khan Sadrolsaltaneh, also known as Haji Washington, who was Iran's first ambassador to the United States.

Elsewhere, Mehrabi, a seasoned journalist, recalled that former Majles Speaker Gholamali Haddad Adel once gave the memoires of Iran's renowned premiere in the 1920s Mohammad Ali Foroughi, to Zarif as a gift, alluding that Zarif could be Iran's next ambassador to Washington DC, once relations between the two countries are restored, or he could be the country's next head of state if he takes part in the 2021 presidential elections.

In the meantime, thousands of Iranians amplified the hashtag "Zarif Bemaan", meaning “Zarif stay” in Persian, calling on Zarif not to leave his post, and expressed their concern about the fate of the country's ties with the world if Zarif's resignation is accepted.

Foreign-based journalist Farnaz Fasihi, tweeted "those who use that hashtag, say he is their last and only hope."

Yazd city’s only Zoroastrian councilman Sepanta Niknam, reminded Zarif's respect for religious minorities and hoped he would return to his desk at the Foreign Ministry.

Twitter user Ali Jazayeri wrote: "The fear of your departure turned happiness into anxiety. I wish you stay and give hope a new life"

Another Twitter user, Fereshteh Rezaei wrote: "Please remain to carry on with diplomacy and to keep us away from war."

The theme of hopelessness was once again expressed by Bahar who wrote: "He was a glimmer of hope in this darkness."

Alireza Heidari tweeted: "Don't make us worry even more, Javad. We were happy with the remnants of rationality."

Ali Taghipour characterized Zarif's resignation as "a big shock" and conveyed the worries of the elderly in his family.

Twitter user Saeed likened Zarif to the goalkeeper of the national team and asked him not to leave the field as penalty shots are on their way.

Sam described Zarif as "A symbol of hope for change for millions of Iranians."

Tehran city council chairman Mohsen Hashemi acknowledged that Zarif's resignation robbed the people of their piece of mind, adding that Zarif was trusted by former President Rafsanjani, and praised by Khamenei.

Well-known journalist Gisoo Faghfouri wrote that "Zarif's resignation is beyond everyday worries. It makes people fearful about the closure of communication routes with the world and deprives people from their hope. The anxiety, fear and hopelessness of these days will not be forgotten"

At the same time, several social media users criticized Zarif, particularly for his statements at international forums denying violations of human rights in Iran. Some hardliners also demanded that Zarif should be barred from travelling abroad and tried for the shortcomings in his performance.

One hardliner lawmaker distributed sweets in parliament, a tradition among Iranians to mark a happy occasion.