Iran’s new hardline Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani

Iran

Published on Friday, 24 September 2021 Back to articles

Ali Bagheri Kani is Iran’s new deputy foreign minister for political affairs. He is a former diplomat and was deputy secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) from 2007 to 2013 under hardliner Saeed Jalili. 

He is closely affiliated with the hard-line faction and took on the role of Jalili’s campaign manager in the 2013 presidential election. Bagheri Kani is the son of the senior cleric and former member of the Assembly of Experts. He is also the nephew of the late cleric Mahdavi Kani, who was very powerful within Iran’s political-clerical establishment. 

In the past few years, alongside Jalili, Bagheri Kani has represented an anti-JCPOA position, one that seems to clash with the current regime view that the agreement should be revived. 

Because Bagheri Kani is succeeding Abbas Araghchi, many have wrongly jumped to the conclusion that he will be the new nuclear negotiator. Araghchi took charge of the negotiations only in the past few months when former foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took a backseat in the final months of President Hassan Rohani’s administration. 

If the nuclear file remains in the Foreign Ministry, then the new minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, will be the new nuclear negotiator. In that scenario, Araghchi — who now carries the title ‘adviser to the foreign minister’ — could play a more significant role than Bagheri Kani.

While Bagheri Kani’s appointment has made the hardliners happy, his influence over foreign policy will be limited because most strategic foreign policy decisions are made in the SNSC. In fact, it would be embarrassing for him as a staunch critic of the JCPOA to be given the task of engaging the other signatories to restore the deal. 

Some view Bagheri Kani’s appointment as a sop from President Ebrahim Raisi’s government to Jalili, who had expected to be appointed to a high position such as first vice president. 

If the appointment of the new deputy minister was the price for keeping Jalili outside the government, many would accept it. At the same time, there is still a possibility that Jalili will become the secretary of SNSC in due course.

This excerpt is taken from Iran Strategic Focus, our monthly intelligence report on Iran. Click here to receive a free sample copy.

The September 2021 issue of Iran Strategic Focus also includes the following:

Commentary: Prospects of JCPOA revival dwindling, maybe

Politics & Society

  • Baghdad summit
  • Shanghai Cooperation Organization
  • A new EC secretary
  • The next IRIB head
  • COVID-19 update

Special feature: International relations in a new era

Profile: Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Ali Bagheri Kani

Economy & Energy

  • Inflation and currency
  • Economic growth
  • Capital flight
  • Iran–Russia banking relations
  • Interpreting oil production statistics
  • Natural gas shortages

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