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Iran's Foreign Minister's dismissal: the Caspian Sea Dimension

By Bahman Aghai Diba, PhD Int. Law

The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, ousted the Foreign Minister of Iran, Manuchehr Mottaki, in a bad way.  While the Manuchehr Mottaki was in a foreign country, the president ousted him without even waiting for him to return.  This was an indication of how eager the president was to kick out his foreign minister.  The president of Iran had a long history of disliking his foreign minister and the announced statements of the Mottaki about the share of Iran in the Caspian Sea, and policies he followed in this field, had a role in his eventual fate.

Manuchehr Mottaki (left) with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Speaking about the share of Iran in the Caspian Sea, Mottaki had said in past that Iran had never more than 11.3% of the Caspian Sea. (1)  following this statement 32 Representatives of the Islamic Consultative assembly (Majles) in Iran issued a notice addressed to Mouchehr Mottaki, and they have attracted his attention to the serious need to refrain from making remarks contrary to the national interests of Iran regarding the share of Iran in the Caspian Sea and need to follow the historical rights of the Iranian nation. (2)

Aftab, in an article entitled "The Minority Fraction of the Majles has put Mottaki in the line of Impeachment" reported that: "  A member of the Minority Fraction of the Iranian Majles, has told the political correspondent of Aftab that Foreign Policy and National Security Commission of the Majles has not been satisfied by the answers of Mouchehr Mottaki regarding the share of Iran in the Caspian Sea and they the concerned fraction was forced to deliver the suggestion for impeachment of the foreign minister to the Board of Directors of the Majles, ..."   The representative of Ardebil in the people's assembly, added: "the answers of Mottaki indicated that the diplomatic apparatus of Iran has prepared the grounds for domination of the East over our country.  We are opposed to any kind of dominance, whether from the East or the West. The Russians have no right to play with our national interests only because we do not have relations with one of the political centers."   Regarding the approach of the Board of Directors of the Majles to the suggestion of impeachment, the spokesperson for the Minority in the Majles said: "we are doing our duty. We have to be the echo of concerns and worries of the people that we represent.  The coming days will make the approach of the Board of Directors of the Majles clear." (3) But they did not follow this due to other problems. 

Ahmad Zaidabadi, an expert of Iranian issues, writing for the Persian Service of the BBC, has mentioned: " ...the direct remarks of Mr. Mottaki and saying that the USSR did not let Iran to cross the connecting line between Astra-Khan and Hussiengholi [two sides of the Iranian land border in the Caspian Sea] weakens the formal position of Iran regarding the Caspian Sea's legal regime and in addition to that, this is a clear political gaffe and Mr. Mottaki might not remain immune from its implications." (4)

The former Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran, Sayyed Mohammad Sadegh Kharrazi, had posted an article in a website close to the Iranian diplomatic circles and he has said: "the documents of the Summit of the Caspian States in Tehran contained some points against the legal and political positions of Iran...the Iranian Foreign Minister is well aware that his positions will affect the future claims in the Caspian sea.  At the same time, it is not the administration, but the Majles that can decide on the issues related to the territorial integrity of the state....his remarks are in clear contrast to the principles set force by the wise Supreme leader on preservation of the state dignity, and expediency." (5) 

Tabnak, had posted an article under the title of "Why Mottaki should be impeached?", and it has indicated: " it is a while that murmurs about the impeachment of Dr. Mottaki, the Foreign Minister of Iran are heard...while the case of the nuclear issue of Iran is still open, and the Arab states and the USA are exerting continuous pressure on Iran, it seems that the states bordering Iran, are using the present atmosphere and through an opportunistic policy, try to obtain advantages from Iran.  In this circumstances, unfortunately, the weak response of Iranian politicians to these opportunists and lack of decisive and proper approach, have led to an increase in the courage of these states in the field of : the share of Iran in the Caspian sea,...calling Iran an occupier of the three Islands in the Persian Gulf by the UAE, ... the remarks of the Iraqi president about the 1975 Iran-Iraq Treaty. ...It seems that many experts and those who are sympathetic towards the Islamic Iran, are seriously concerned about loss of the national interests in the northern, southern and western borders...if persons like Mottaki and the diplomatic apparatus of Iran demonstrate  even small cases of failures, they will be rebuked by the people definitely."  (6)

Aserno, posted an article saying: " ...unfortunately, it seems that our diplomatic officials are not the men of revolutionary moves and at the same time, they do not have wise diplomatic outlooks in their programs ....look at what was done in the last two years:

  1. in order to get the approval of the Armenian officials for inviting us, we accepted the commitment to lay flowers in the memorial site of mass murders by the Ottoman Turks and when we understood what a dangerous game it was, we cut the trip abruptly.
  2. In the Summit of the Caspian States [this is a reference to Tehran Summit in 2007] , we dropped the reference to 1940 and 1921 treaties  just to gain the presence of the heads of states.
  3. Due to a disrespectful article of the Kayhan Newspaper against Bahrain, we were forced to dispatch the foreign minister to Bahrain to ask for apology, without even waiting for an invitation.
  4. For first time, our president delivers a speech in a university, while the host and audience offer the most unusual disrespectful treatment to him.
  5. We take part in a session that the participants have clearly covetous eyes to sections of our soil..." (7)

According to Norooz, Abollah Ramezanzadeh, the Deputy Director of Mosharekat Front, criticized the recent actions of against the territorial integrity of the country and said: "where is the zeal of the Commanders of the War time [Iran-Iraq 1980-88 war]?"  He has added: "... The foreigners should be aware that we do not approve any advantages that you obtain from this administration.  [Referring to Mottaki's remarks] I personally hope that he would have not said so. If he has said these words, the best option for him is to apologize to the people and martyrs of the Imposed War [Iran-Iraq War] and as a small step in the right direction, say goodbye to the realm of politics."(8)

In the light of these cases, the Iranian policy regarding the Caspian Sea made a drastic change at the verge of the 18 November 2010 Baku Summit of the Caspian States. Mohammad Mehdi Akundzadeh, the deputy foreign ministry, and the special envoy of the president in the Caspian Sea affairs (his assignment along with several others as the special advisors of the president in foreign affairs was a main point recent tensions of Mottaki and the president) said that Iran's interpretation from the principle of equity is something that may go even further than twenty percent.  This position was in sharp contrast with the policies of Mottaki. (9)

This indicates to a new change in the Iranian policy because up to that date, what was generally understood from the insistence of Iran on the principle of equity in the Caspian Sea was that  it may agree to something less than 20 percent, provided that the share of Iran is extended from 13 to couple numbers higher ( for example 17) and especially to include some of the places favored by Iran. The new signals of what is meant by the equity by Iran, may make reaching an accord on the legal regime of the Caspian Sea more difficult, but it may be more compatible with the national interest of Iran: while Iran is not in a position to make others in the Caspian to give at least an equal share to it, Iran can delay the solving of the problem.  (10)

(1) dated 12/31/2007

(2) dated 1/15/2008

(3)   Http:// , dated 1/10/2008

(4), dated Jan. o1/2008

(5) dated Jan. 3, 2008

(6) dated 14 Jan. 2008

(7) dated January 2008 

(8) dated Jan.12, 2008

(9) 2010

(10) Ibid

About the author: Bahman Aghai Diba is a senior consultant to the CEO of the World Resources Company

... Payvand News - 12/16/10 ... --

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