outpouring of support for Iran’s sanctioned Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad
Zarif by Iran's elite continued, with the visit of IRGC Quds Force commander
Qassem Soleimani to the foreign ministry on Tuesday.
The notorious shadowy general directing the foreign operations of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a staunch hardliner opposed to the United States and its allies in the region.
Soleimani met Zarif and condemned the US decision to sanction Iran’s chief diplomat as “madness”. Soleimani congratulated Zarif for becoming a target of “America’s anger and enmity” because of his association with Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and also because he had “a deep impact on public opinion, especially among the American people.”
As tensions rose between Washington and Tehran in the past three months, the US imposed more sanctions on Iranian entities and individuals, at the same time repeatedly offering unconditional talks with Iran.
Reports in the past week indicated that Zarif was invited to the White House during his last trip to New York in mid-July, but he turned it down, not having received approval from Tehran. Later in the month, the US announced sanctions against Zarif, but it is not clear how far these will impact his freedom of movement around the world.
The foreign minister, who was under pressure by hardliners in Iran, has suddenly become a symbol of Iran’s resistance for various factions of the ruling elite.