US President Donald Trump’s sudden firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has sparked comparisons in the Iranian media to the behavior of former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
On March 13, immediately after Trump announced the dismissal of Tillerson through his Twitter account, Iranian news outlets covered it extensively while many were reminded of Ahmadinejad’s 2010 firing of then Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki while the latter was on a trip to Senegal.
The moderate news site Entekhab said March 13, “The similarities of Mottaki's and Tillerson’s dismissals more than anything demonstrate the manner of governance by Trump and Ahmadinejad. Trump's and Ahmadinejad’s method [of governing] is based on populism. Excited speeches and using colloquial language, sudden decisions and unilateralism in decision-making are common qualities of these two [figures].”
Meanwhile, the ultra-conservative Javan newspaper, considered close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, described the dismissal of Tillerson as the result of Iran’s “resistance.”
Under the headline “Firing Tillerson in order to withdraw from the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action],” Javan wrote March 14, “In a statement, Trump considered his disagreement with Tillerson, namely over the issue of the JCPOA, as the reason for Tillerson’s dismissal. In fact, Iran’s resistance and its commitment to the JCPOA has divided Trump’s Cabinet and US foreign policy.”
Referring to the recent meeting between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House, Javan wrote, “Tillerson was among the members of Trump’s Cabinet who had doubts about withdrawing from the JCPOA, and given recent agreements between the White House and Zionists about leaving the JCPOA, there was a need for dismissing [Tillerson].”
Moderate Asr-e Iran addressed the issue of CIA Director Mike Pompeo replacing Tillerson, writing March 14, “Now, with Pompeo finding his way to the State Department, a person is in the position of enforcing the orders and decisions of the Trump administration about Iran who is one of the staunch opponents of the Islamic Republic and who seeks the pursuit of the regime change approach.”
Asr-e Iran continued, “It seems that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s relationship with the United States is on the verge of entering its most tense period in the past four decades … and if the Senate approves him [Pompeo], a figure will take the lead of the diplomacy apparatus who doesn’t like diplomatic language with reference to Iran and is an advocate of harsh behavior and even war.”
Furthermore, hard-line Vatan-e-Emrooz daily argued that the most important objective behind the appointment of Pompeo is to attack the nuclear deal.
“Following the dismissal of Tillerson, the position of national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who supports the saving of the JCPOA, has been weakened, and it is possible that he will be the next Cabinet member facing dismissal,” added Vatan-e-Emrooz on March 14.
Moreover, Ali Khorram, a former representative of Iran at the UN headquarters in Geneva, wrote in an article in Reformist Arman daily March 14, “The effects of Rex Tillerson’s dismissal will be very profound for our country, region and the world. Initially, it will mean that the US president is on the side of hard-liners in the political society of America, and the unwise policies of Donald Trump will be intensified in all areas.”
Khorram said, “Trump and Pompeo are both proponents of applying increasing pressure on Iran, abolishing the nuclear deal or ‘improving’ it, acting against Iran in Syria and limiting Iran’s spheres of influence in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.”
Meanwhile, in a meeting with the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission on March 14, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said, “The Americans are serious about withdrawing from the JCPOA, and the recent change in the country’s State Department has been carried out for this purpose or is at the very least one of the reasons [for Tillerson’s dismissal].”
Araghchi said, “Under these circumstances, the Europeans strive to keep the Americans within the JCPOA, but to what extent Britain, France and Germany will be successful is not clear,” adding that Iran has made it clear to Europe that it will withdraw from the deal if the United States does.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi also reacted to Tillerson’s dismissal, albeit cautiously, stating in his weekly press conference on March 14, “These changes are considered as the internal affairs of the United States, and the whole world is witnessing these changes. What is important for us is the policies and approaches of the US on global and international issues as well as toward Iran. We pursue these approaches and adopt our own stances.”
In other news, Reformist Mohammad Ali Najafi, who was chosen as mayor of Tehran less than seven months ago, has resigned from his post. While many considered his resignation as stemming from hard-liners’ pressures, the chairman of Tehran City Council, Mohsen Hashemi, said March 14 that Najafi’s resignation was due to health problems.