By the Apadana Chronicle Editorial Board
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said earlier this week that he had been given directives from President Trump to hit the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif with sanctions. This was supposed to take place by the end of this past week, but no such designation was announced. Perhaps the Trump Administration thought Zarif had become too irrelevant to bother with the clerical process. In other words, he was not worth their time and effort.
Zarif has indeed become an immaterial article in the bizarre political theater of the Islamic Republic. The testament to that is his juvenile, buffoonish conduct on social media. Zarif has essentially been reduced to a troll on Twitter, obsessively criticizing President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ambassador John Bolton, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. He rarely tweets anything meaningful about foreign policy, meetings with his international counterparts, or his activities (or lack thereof) as the Foreign Minister of the second largest country in the Middle East.
He has a tendency to twist the words of his trolling targets in a conscious effort to mislead. For example, when President Trump says “obliteration of Iran,” it is pretty clear he is not referring to the Iranian civilian population. But Zarif uses this as a demur for his propaganda. His behavior has become increasingly bizarre and outlandish, as if a lunatic who cannot sleep.
Even before the decommissioning of the Iran nuclear deal, he would go into periodic bouts of tweet frenzies. In late October to early November 2017, for example, Zarif went on the following tweet rampage attacking anyone or anything he despised.
Zarif’s behavior is obviously unbecoming of a Foreign Minister and more like a madman who cannot control his innate impulses. It is clear he is not receiving the attention he seeks from the Trump Administration. If the idea of sanctioning him was advanced by the Treasury Department, it is perhaps because US wanted to prevent the disinformation and propaganda he spreads. He particularly enjoys the platforms he is given by various think tanks and news networks when he visits the US, taking advantage of freedom of speech that country affords him to spread his toxic propaganda and fake news. His twitter activity is certainly not helping his position and will not – by any stretch of imagination – earn him any respect from the US Government. Interestingly, his tweets are near replica of the rhetoric broached by talking heads affiliated with organizations like the National Iranian American Council. Zarif has mentioned in the past that he only tweets in English (never in Persian) and that his tweets are “critiqued” by various parties outside of Iran. As outlandish as Zarif’s tweets are, it is conceivable that some them, if not all, are generated or modified by people like Trita Parsi (a notorious regime propagandist in the US), Reza Aslan (a foul-mouthed regime apologist in the US), or Medea Benjamin of Code Pink.
Evident by his infantile February 2019 resignation that took less than a day, it seems Zarif has become ineffective and unimportant to the mullahs, and the State Department is well aware of that. In early May, at a forum, Special Representative Brian Hook said Zarif is a man without much power, and the real foreign minister of Iran is the notorious Revolutionary Guards commander, Qassem Soleimani. “I pay a lot more attention to what Qassem Soleimani does than what Foreign Minister Zarif says. And if you want to judge this regime, pay attention to the Revolutionary Guards and don’t pay a lot of attention to Zarif,” Mr. Hook stated. Secretary Pompeo also described Zarif as having merely an ornamental role within a sinister revolutionary regime. “The (Iranian) regime’s revolutionary goals and willingness to commit violent acts haven’t produced anyone to lead Iran that can be remotely called a moderate or a statesman,” Mr. Pompeo said. “Some believe that President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif fit that bill. The truth is they are merely polished front men for the ayatollahs’ international con artistry,” he added.
It really does not make much of a difference whether or not Zarif is designated. He has become increasingly irrelevant and anything he says or does should not be taken seriously. Unfortunately, some media outlets that are still ruminating on the nostalgia of Obama’s mullah appeasement policy continue to inflate Zarif’s position and persona by reporting on his every mundane activity and eccentric behavior.