Abdol-Naser Hemmati said on Twitter that he would invite Mohammad-Javad Zarif to serve in his cabinet as either Vice President or Foreign Minister. Citing the lifting of sanctions as a priority for his government, Hemmati said Zarif will need to stay in a senior role as negotiations continue.
One-time favourite candidate, Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif, released a video on Instagram in which he beseeched Iranians to vote for the good of Iran. Zarif said that boycotting was not a solution, and voting would be a blow to Iran’s enemies, particularly Israel. Zarif added that voting will not only accelerate the end of sanctions but will also insulate Iran from future sanctions.
Abdol-Naser Hemmati described Mohammad-Javad Zarif as a “strong and patriotic diplomat”, adding that if the outgoing Foreign Minister does not want to be part of his government, he will always benefit from his advice. In the Clubhouse session, Hemmati positioned himself as a strong actor on foreign policy, saying “interaction (with the West) does not mean compromise” and stating that his first priority was to increase the importation of COVID vaccines to the country. Read more at IRNA
Reformist candidate Mohsen Mehr-Alizadeh appeared on Clubhouse to outline his plans for government and answer questions. On his government, he promised to increase subsidies for the lowest income earners, and added that he planned to include three women in his cabinet. Mehr-Alizadeh also said that he hoped that Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif would be involved in his administration. Mehr-Alizadeh fielded questions on ethnic issues in Iran, saying that he was “a son of Azerbaijan” and a “son-in-law of Isfahan”, arguing that all Iranians were worried about their country, regardless of ethnic, language or tribal differences. Mehr-Alizadeh also took aim at Ebrahim Raisi, accusing him of being responsible for the 2014 acid attacks in Isfahan.
When asked during his Clubhouse about a rumour that Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif may be his running mate, Ali Larijani responded that “anything is possible… I consider Zarif to be a very capable person, and he has performed very well in the nuclear negotiations”.
Mohammad-Javad Zarif travelled to Syria today in a strong indication that he did not intend to register. Hours later, he released a statement on Instagram where he stated unequivocally that he will not register, adding that “my candidacy would be at the cost of destroying national cohesion, the self-confidence, hope and trust of the people”. Zarif requested that he now be left to pursue the JCPOA and ending sanctions for Iran, and that the issue of his candidacy (and by implication the leaked audio file) be put aside.
Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif reportedly had a meeting today with former Reformist President Mohammad Khatami and prominent politician and cleric Hassan Rouhani to discuss his potential candidacy. Zarif, who has been endorsed by the Reform Front, reportedly informed Khatami and Khomeini that he will not register for these elections. Recently, Zarif has been subject to controversy due to a scandal involving a leaked audio file, and yesterday was alleged to have also sworn upon the Qur’an that he did not intend to run.
First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri held a meeting today with the Reform Front to formally accept their endorsement for his campaign. Jahangiri, along with Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif, are not Reformists and it was considered unlikely that they would accept the endorsement in the current environment. Neither Zarif nor Mohammad-Reza Aref, a veteran Reformist previously believed to have fallen out with his own faction, have accepted their endorsements, although FarsNews has reported that the Reform Front will continue to endorse these candidates through the registration and vetting process, if the two men choose to nominate.
Ramin Mehmanparast, a former Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman who represented Iran in several diplomatic posts abroad, said in an interview that Commander Qasem Soleimani was not just a military man but a diplomat and strategist. Mehmanparast went on to say that he considered the comments made by Mohammad-Javad Zarif in the leaked audio as in accurate.
Eleven of the 14 candidates endorsed by the Reform Front last week have presented their plans for the Presidency and met with the Front. However, so far, no plan has been presented by Mohammad-Reza Aref, and the two top choices, current First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and current Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif. The Reformist veteran Aref is known to have had a falling out with the leadership, particularly former President Mohammad Khatami. Jahangiri and Zarif are not part of the Reformist faction, and may not respond for this reason.