Nuclear Energy Commission Director Ali Akhbar Salehi was appointed Iran's new foreign minister Monday, Dec. 13 in midstream of resumed nuclear diplomacy – to make sure the Six World Powers headed by the United States understood that Tehran was determined to go full speed ahead with its nuclear weapon program without given Washington an inch on any related issue.
debkafile's Iranian sources expect that after Manoucher Mottaki's sacking as foreign minister was announced Monday, Tehran's campaign against the Obama administration will be more aggressive than ever before and it drive even harder hard to axe every American position of influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.
By dropping Mottaki, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad strengthens his line-up of wholly dedicated pro-nuke advocates, headed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Salehi, defense minister Ahmed Wahidi and intelligence minister Heidar Meslahi.
Only hours before Mottaki's dismissal was announced in Tehran Monday, an Iranian military communiqué divulged that Iran's ground forces had completed a large war game near the Iraqi border. Iran usually makes big propaganda play of its military exercises. This time it was kept secret and even the closing bulletin gave away very little. However, the two events in one day posted a message to Washington that Iranian military strength was arrayed to confront US forces in Iraq.
Ahmadinejad announced Mottaki's dismissal with the impulsiveness which has become a typical feature of his behavior in the five years of his presidency. The day before, the foreign minister set out on an official tour of Africa to strengthen Iran's ties on the continent and seek out purchasing opportunities for raw uranium ore. The president's terse cable reached him shortly after he landed in Dakar, Senegal. It told him he was fired, instructed him to return home and wished him success in his future endeavors.
Salehi's letter of appointment as new foreign minister was quite different. He was said to have earned his new honor "by virtue of his dedication to the Revolution, the breadth and wealth of his knowledge and his blessed experience."
It has been common knowledge in Tehran, according to debkafile's Iranian sources, that Mottaki was foreign minister in not much more than name. Like Israel's Avigdor Lieberman, important diplomatic assignments passed him by and were carried out by officials close to the president.
For example: The Deputy President Esfandyar Rahim was sent to Amman Saturday, Dec. 11, with an invitation for Jordan's King Abdullah to visit Tehran.
Critics in the Majlis (parliament) often accused Mottaki of lack of enterprise in promoting Iran's diplomatic relations and its international interests. Disclosures by the WikiLeaks secret-blowing website contributed to his undoing. US diplomatic cables exposed Arab rulers as deeply apprehensive of Iran's nuclear plans to the point of pressing for military action against the Islamic Republic, whereas it was his job as foreign minister' to allay their fears and quiet their unrest.
Tehran has showed its hand in a bid to cultivate the Jordanian king, the staunchest of America's Arab allies in the Arab world. One of Salehi's first tasks as incoming foreign minister is to actively woo those allies, draw them away from Washington and lift Iran's image in the Arab world. More cordial invitations to Tehran will soon be landing on the desks of other Arab rulers.
debkafile's Iranian sources disclose that a name to watch now is that of Mohammad Ghannadi Maraghee, head of Iran's Institute for Scientific and Nuclear Technological Research. He takes over from Salehi as new Director of the Nuclear Energy Commission.