Iran's Raisi Presents Cabinet, Names Hard-Liner As Foreign Minister
By RFE/RL's Radio Farda August 11, 2021
New Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has named an anti-Western diplomat as foreign minister as he presented a cabinet dominated by hard-liners, state TV reported.
Raisi replaced Hassan Rohani, a relative moderate, as president after an election in June when prominent rivals -- including moderates and reformists -- were barred from standing.
The new president nominated hard-line career diplomat Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to the crucial post of foreign minister as Tehran and Washington seek to resuscitate a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Amir-Abdollahian, 56, was deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs under former populist hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, notorious for his Holocaust denial and disputed reelection in 2009.
Amir-Abdollahian is believed to have close ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Lebanon's powerful Hizballah movement, and other Iranian proxies around the Middle East.
Raisi also named Javad Owji to the crucial position of oil minister. Owji is a former deputy oil minister and managing director of the state-run gas company.
No woman has been nominated in Raisi's proposed cabinet, which must still be confirmed by parliament.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also has the final word on picking officials for the most sensitive positions, such as foreign minister.
Raisi, himself a hard-liner who is subjected to Western sanctions over allegations of human rights abuses when he was a judge, was sworn into office on August 5 as Iran faces an economic crisis deepened by U.S. sanctions, a growing health crisis, fast-rising regional tensions, and difficult negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement.
The semiofficial Iranian media suggested that the Supreme National Security Council, which reports directly to Khamenei, would take over the nuclear talks in Vienna from the Foreign Ministry, which had been led by relative moderates during Rohani's administration.
Iran and world powers have been negotiating since April to revive the pact left in 2018 by U.S. President Donald Trump, who also reimposed sanctions that have hit hard Tehran's economy by squeezing its oil exports.
A sixth round of the talks held in June 20 ended with Iranian and Western officials saying major gaps remained to be resolved in returning Tehran and Washington to full compliance with the pact.
They have yet to set a date for the next round of negotiations.
The powers of the elected president are limited in Iran by those of the supreme leader, who is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, appoints the head of the judiciary, and makes final decisions in major policies of Iran.
With reporting by AP and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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