Who was Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian?

Hossein Amir Abdollahian was chosen as Iran’s foreign minister in 2021 by President Ebrahim Raisi during a volatile time for Iran’s regional ties and its relationship with the West.

Amir Abdollahian was a career diplomat and, like Raisi, a hardliner. The two men died in a helicopter crash on Sunday in a mountainous region of northwestern Iran. Considered closely aligned with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Amir Abdollahian was also believed to have had a close relationship with Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the powerful leader of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, whom the United States killed in a drone attack. in 2020.

Born in 1964, Mr. Amir Abdollahian earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Tehran, according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

He was fluent in Arabic and his diplomatic experience focused on Iran’s relations in the Middle East. He spent five years as deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, from 2011 to 2016, and three years as Iran’s ambassador to Bahrain, from 2007 to 2010.

His tenure as foreign minister was markedly different from that of his predecessor, Mohammad Javad Zarif, the moderate, American-educated diplomat who helped negotiate the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, including the United States. Zarif made that deal in close collaboration with John F. Kerry, who was secretary of state under President Barack Obama, and was later heard on a leaked audio tape talking about a rivalry with General Suleimani.

After being confirmed as foreign minister in 2021, Amir Abdollahian emphasized that Iran’s relations with its neighbors would be a top priority and quickly took a tougher stance against the United States in talks on reviving the nuclear deal, which the former President Donald J. Trump had abandoned.

Amir Abdollahian was also a key figure in the fallout from the Hamas-led attacks of October 7, which led Israel to go to war in Gaza. Iran backs several armed groups in the Middle East, including Hamas, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. Amir Abdollahian had been vocal about the threat of a broader conflict for months before Iran’s shadow war with Israel erupted openly in April, when Israel killed top military leaders in an attack on an Iranian embassy compound in Syria. and Iran fired a volley. of drones and missiles against Israel in retaliation.

Amir Abdollahian repeatedly condemned the United States for supporting Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. In an interview with The New York Times in November, he said: “If the United States continues its military, political and financial support for Israel and helps manage Israel’s military attacks on Palestinian civilians, then it must face its consequences.”

Amir Abdollahian’s deputy for political affairs, Ali Bagheri Kani, who was named “in charge” of the Foreign Ministry on Monday, heads the Iranian delegations that have secretly and indirectly negotiated with the United States in Oman on at least three occasions throughout of the years. last year. The talks addressed Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea, attacks on US military personnel in Iraq and Syria by proxies from Iran and a ceasefire in Gaza.

Farnaz Fassihi contributed reports.

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