With nuclear talks convening today in Geneva, the media’s focused primarily on mutual confidence building measures with the Rouhani/Zarif government (even though it’s Iran, not the P5+1, that’s in violation of international resolutions). We think readers should also know who’s included in this government, with which confidence is supposed to be built.
One noteworthy Rouhani appointee is Vice President for Executive Affairs Mohammad Shariatmadari, a founder of Iran’s post-revolution intelligence ministry. Another is Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, who just last week said Tehran supports “the peaceful and freedom-seeking stances of North Korea”.
The appointment of former intelligence minister Ali Younessi as adviser for tribal and religious minorities’ affairs is also interesting. Following the Islamic Revolution, Younessi served as head of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Tehran and then led the IRGC’s political-ideological bureau.
Readers will recall our lowdown on new NSC head Ali Shamkhani; since then, he’s made several personnel decisions of his own. To fill the post of deputy secretary for strategic affairs, he chose Brig. Gen. Ali Hosseini Tosh – former IRGC Navy Deputy Commander and president of western-sanctioned Imam Hossein University. He tapped another IRGC and Iranian military veteran, Brig. Gen. Abbas Mohtaj, as deputy secretary for internal security.
Rouhani’s government also includes a couple of Ahmadinejad survivors. Former defense and interior minister Mohammad Najjar – sanctioned all over the place for WMD and human rights violations – has been appointed top adviser to Iran’s military chief of staff. And former defense minister Ahmad Vahidi – internationally sanctioned and wanted by Interpol for “aggravated murder” (for his role in the AMIA bombings) – has also been given an influential role in the new Iranian government.
It’s too simplistic to focus coverage of nuclear negotiations on Rouhani/Zarif and base calls for confidence building on them alone. Iran is also its IRGC-stocked government (and Khamenei, of course). Worth noting before the next story (or tweet).