The proposed cabinet of recently inaugurated Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is providing diplomats and analysts with new information about the likely policies – and, perhaps as importantly, tone – that a Rouhani administration is likely to set.
Initial expressions of optimism, made by foreign policy analysts who hoped to see Rouhani changing Iran’s foreign policy posture, had already been dampened by Rouhani’s position as a consummate regime insider. Post-election vows to continue providing extensive support to the Bashar al-Assad regime, increased analysts’ concerns.
New revelations about Rouhani’s announced choice for foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, are likely to further erode analyst optimism. Though the proposed appointment was initially seen as an olive branch to the U.S. – a headline at Reuters declared as much – it turns out that Zarif may be a bit of a Holocaust-denying conspiracy theorist:
At the Columbia event, student Jordan Hirsch, a former Bartley Fellow at The Wall Street Journal, asked Mr. Zarif, “Do you personally believe that six million Jews died in the Holocaust?” “Well,” answered the ambassador, “I believe a great atrocity was committed in the Second World War. The question that needs to be asked is, What is the crime committed by the Palestinians in that atrocity?”…
Mr. Zarif continued: “A large number of people died, were murdered, in the Second World War. A large number of them were Jews. That’s a crime. Any crime against humanity must be rejected, and we reject any crime. Genocide is a major crime and we reject it. But this is the question that you do not want me to answer: What was the role of the Palestinians in that?… Palestinians have been suffering because of that without having any role in it.”
Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s, who was recently appointed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Iran’s powerful Expediency Council, boasted toward the end of his term that he had successfully mainstreamed Holocaust denial – and that it was in fact his greatest accomplishment..
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