Iranian Overseas Minister Apologizes for Leaked Feedback: NPR

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif watches during a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on April 26th. Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP via Getty Images are hiding subtitles

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Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP via Getty Images

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif watches during a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on April 26th.

Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP via Getty Images

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif apologized on Sunday for comments he described as “angry” with the country’s top leader. Late last month, notes surfaced by Zarif, the public face of Iranian diplomacy, saying the Revolutionary Guards had far more influence on foreign and nuclear affairs than he did.

Iranian top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appeared to be punishing Zarif during a televised address on Sunday. Khamenei did not say Zarif’s name but said the comments were “a major mistake that cannot be made by an Islamic Republic official”. He added that the leaked comments “are a repetition of what Iran’s enemies are saying”.

Shortly thereafter, Zarif apologized via Instagram, saying the comments were “stolen and posted for abuse by enemies of the country and its people and that you, Supreme Leader, felt regret”.

In Leaked Audio, the Iranian Foreign Minister criticizes the influence of the Revolutionary Guard

Zarif made the comments during a seven-hour interview, even though they weren’t meant to be aired. They have been forwarded to Iran International, a London-based Persian-language news broadcaster. According to the semi-official ISNA news agency, Iran has banned 15 people from traveling for alleged involvement in the distribution of the audio recording.

The impact of the interview on the power struggles among Iranian leaders and the influence of the Revolutionary Guards was enormous, and many analysts asked if Zarif would be able to stay in office.

Zarif also made blunt comments about the late Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, saying the powerful military figure had often overridden the foreign minister’s decisions. Soleimani was killed in a US drone attack in Baghdad in January 2020. Zarif posted a previous Instagram apology to Soleimani’s family.

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