London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Dr Ali Larijani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council [SNSC] of Iran and the official in charge of nuclear program, has tendered his resignation for the fifth time in recent months to Supreme Leader [of the Islamic Revolution] Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iranian sources have said that the resignation is in protest against what he described in his resignation letter as irresponsible behavior and statements by the president of the republic and his colleagues, which have obstructed the course of the negotiations with the European Union and current steps to ward off threats against Iran and its strategic interests.
Although the supreme leader has rejected Larijani’s resignation just as he previously did, sources close to the SNSC’s secretary have stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Larijani is very displeased with the actions of Ahmadinejad and his Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who Larijani considers unqualified to head Iranian diplomacy at a critical time that necessitates having an experienced politician and diplomat, one who is capable of facing challenges.
Larijani’s disagreements with Ahmadinejad and Mottaki surfaced recently when the former visited Baghdad to consult with Iraqi officials on Iran’s conditions for attending the Sharm al-Sheikh conference. At a time when Larijani’s talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki reached an important juncture whereby they reached some sort of agreement on how to deal with the security issue and the role that Iran can play to help Al-Maliki’s government contain terrorism, Iran’s Ambassador in Iraq Hasan Kazemi Qomi made statements in which he announced that Mottaki would go to Sharm al-Sheikh. The statements enraged Larijani such that he said in response to a question by a correspondent of some news agency that he knew nothing about Manouchehr Mottaki’s travel plans, and that the news was a surprise to him.
An advisor to Larijani in the secretariat of the SNSC told Asharq Al-Awsat that following Larijani’s successful visits to Saudi Arabia, the supreme leader put him in charge of the file on Gulf States and neighboring countries. Nevertheless, on his visit the UAE and the Sultanate of Oman, Ahmadinejad did not consult with Larijani, and made very provocative statements on the resumption of relations with Egypt. This is in addition to his statements during his private meetings with UAE President Sheikh Khalifah Bin-Zayid, and Sheikh Muhammad Bin-Rashid, UAE prime minister, UAE vice president, and ruler of Dubai, on how to deal with the problem concerning the three islands; Abu Musa, Tunb al-Kubra and Tunb al-Sughra, which the UAE wants back.
Larijani and a team of advisors had studied all aspects of the islands’ issue. Moreover, contacts between Iran and the UAE were supposed to be held through Larijani and the UAE Government away from the limelight later this year. Ahmadinejad’s visit, however, has torpedoed Larijani’s initiative. On the other hand, Mottaki’s statements at the World Economic Forum that Iran does not have the intention to erase Israel [from the map] and that it is impossible to erase countries nowadays, and [the fact that] he later reneged on his statements after being directly reprimanded by President Ahmadinejad have prompted Larijani to consider them as irresponsible statements that have greatly harmed Iran according to one of his advisors.
It seems that the supreme leader’s rejection of Larijani’s resignation could calm the situation. However, the scheduled talks with the United States in Baghdad on 28th May are a point of genuine disagreement between the SNSC’s secretary and Ahmadinejad’s government. The foreign minister plans to dispatch Dr Mohammad Javad Zarif, the former head of the permanent Iranian mission to the United Nations, to Baghdad to hold talks with US Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Larijani believes that although Zarif has mastered the English language and is knowledgeable about the American culture, traditions, and mentality, he has been trained more than necessary while the talks require an important politician such as Dr Mohammad Javad Larijani, [Ali Larijani’s] brother and advisor of the chief of the judiciary authority for international affairs. Mohammad Javad Larijani participated in the recent Davos forum in Jordan alongside Mottaki.