The Platform


Iran might have appointed its most powerful foreign minister to date. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is a strong admirer of Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who presided over Iran’s foreign policy in the Middle East for two decades. He is also close to Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, and the IRGC. Abdollahian could usher in a new era of Iranian foreign policy.

Abdollahian is a diplomat and academic both in practice and theory with a long career in Iran’s foreign ministry, especially in the Middle East. Iran’s national TV has called him a distinguished diplomat in the axis of resistance. He is known as the new Soleimani in Iran. He has publicly expressed his admiration of Soleimani, as he has frequently venerated the commander on many occasions. Similar to Soleimani, his expertise is in the Middle East. Unlike his predecessor, Abdollahian is a Tehran-educated diplomat known for his aggressive attitudes towards the West.

Abdullohian enjoys the support of Iran’s supreme leader, President Ebrahim Raisi, and the IRGC. Foreign ministry candidates, while chosen by the president, are vetted first by the supreme leader. This gives you an indication of the direction Iran plans to follow regarding its foreign policy.

Abollahian has pledged to carefully follow in the footsteps of Soleimani and to devise Iran’s foreign policy in accordance with Soliemani’s way. Abdollahian is known for his uncompromising nature which makes him a natural fit. However, unlike Soleimani, who kept a low profile, Abdollahian is fond of the spotlight. His first foreign visit was to the site where Qassem Soleimani was killed near Baghdad’s airport. He has usually opposed Western intervention in Iran’s neighboring countries. He had also called the U.S. presence in Iraq and Syria a source of conflict and instability.

Abdollahian was more than a friend to Soleimani. He was Soleimani’s point-man at the foreign ministry when he was the deputy foreign minister for Arab and African Affairs from 2011 to 2016. When Javad Zarif became foreign minister, Soleimani asked him to keep Abdollahian in his position. However, in 2016 a squabble between Zarif and Soleimani led Zarif to fire Abdollahian. However, he was kept in policy loops when he became an advisor to Ali Ardeshir Larijani.

In a recent video leak, Zarif claimed that 98 percent of his ministry was run by Soleimani. This indicates that Abdollahian carried out Soleimani’s orders and severely undermined Zarif. Later, Zarif offered to resign when Soleiman received Bashar al-Assad in Tehran without Zarif’s knowledge. Abdollahian has frequently advocated for policies that are parallel with those of the supreme leader and the IRGC.

As a powerful minister with the full backing of the supreme leader and president, his views will account for Iran’s future direction. Abdollahian’s opinions are endorsed by the supreme leader as his writings are frequently posted in the supreme leader’s personal accounts on social media. Both Raisi and Abdollahian have promised to realign Iran’s foreign policy towards Iran’s neighbors and Asia at a time when the U.S. has planned to shift its foreign policy from the Middle East to Asia.

Abdollahian has declared that Iran should take revenge for the killing of Soleimani. Further, hardliners could undermine the nuclear negotiations currently taking place by demanding concessions from the West.

Abdollahian enjoys strong relations with pro-Iranian groups across the Middle East such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and others that are openly hostile to Israel’s very existence. In particular, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah.

As an admirer of Qassem Soleimani, one could argue that Hossein Amir-Abdollahian isn’t prepared to make any concessions to the West that might see sanctions eased or an end to its nascent nuclear weapons program.

Farid Dilshad is a political researcher and Editor-in-Chief of the newsroom at Kurdsat News TV.