Tuesday, April 8, 2014

White House To Iran: U.N. Ambassador Choice 'Not Viable'

The White House said today that it did not welcome Iran's choice of Hamid Aboutalebi as its new UN ambassador, saying U.S. officials had told Tehran that the selection was “not viable.” (Reuters, 8 April)

Aboutalebi is alleged to have been a member of the Muslim Student Followers of Imam’s Line, the radical student organization that seized the U.S. Embassy in 1979 and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

Taskhir, a website published in Tehran claiming to be the official site of the Muslim Student Followers of Imam’s Line, has identified Aboutalebi as one of the organization’s members. Takhsir’s editor is Hashem Pour Yazdan-Parast, one of the leaders of the group during the embassy takeover.

In a post, dated 8 October 2010, the site published the photos of some of the more prominent participants in the embassy takeover. If you click on a photo purportedly of the young Aboutalebi, the caption in Farsi reads: “Hamid Aboutalebi.”

To see the post in Taskhir (Farsi text), please click here.

With the White House now officially saying that Aboutalebi’s nomination is not viable, it is expected that the Rouhani administration would put in a new name for the country’s UN ambassador.

Photo credit: Taskhir’s photo of a young Hamid Aboutalebi.


Mark Pyruz said...

"With the White House now officially saying that Aboutalebi’s nomination is not viable, it is expected that the Rouhani administration would put in a new name for the country’s UN ambassador"

Whose expectation? American expectation? UN expectation? Iranian expectation?

According to the UN Charter, the UN HQ in NY is an international territory not United States territory. Any degradation of this status would be potentially damaging to the organization.

Personally, I'd hope Iran makes a change to smooth this over, even though from their standpoint it would reflect an infringement on their sovereignty, with past sovereignty infringement by the U.S. being one of the primary causes for their 1979 revolution.

Anonymous said...

Mark PyruzApril 8, 2014 at 8:43 PM
Well said,but why should iran make any change?,if the us doesnt like it thats just to bad,one would think that if they were at all serious about improving relations they would simply turn a blind eye.What this really is is a test for the moderates like rouhani will they stand firm or buckle

Anonymous said...

Mark is being much kinder in showing his disappointment at the US's objection to the Iran's new ambassador.

I will not be.

The man has served as Iran's ambassador to a variety of previous roles, including the EU. So he is not some average khan daei from tah tehroon.

Also, if anything, the US should be appreciative of someone like Aboutalebi. At the very least, he was somewhat responsible for the "hostages" well being. And they were treated very well, not beaten or killed, not tortured, and probably ate better pistachios than the average person.

Any way, my point is this: Instead of the US pointing the finger at Iran, maybe it should point the thumb. As Mark mentioned, it was one of the cause of the 1979 revolution and this whole mess.

Anonymous said...

This is good point by Mark P and that situation will show Rouhani's commitments to his oath regarding the Islamic Republic's principles........

Former political prisoner and refugee
Not an U..'s altar boy

Nader Uskowi said...

Mark, it's the expectation of a number of Iran watchers, some very sympathetic to Rouhani. Same approach, and same reasoning as what you have said above.

I personally do not understand why Rouhani administration should wanted to send someone with that kind of background to New York. Weren't other major cities available for Aboutalebi? Weren't anyone else in the country's fairly large diplomatic corp good enough for the post?

Especially Rouhani, who has gambled so much of his political fortune on normalization of relations with other countries, particularly with the West. Could it be it was a move forced on him by the hard right to create a crisis in relations with the U.S.? I am not a conspiracy theorists, but this nominations was not a smart move as you had expected it from Rouhani. Compare it to his appointment of Zarif as foreign minister.

Nader Uskowi said...

Of course improving relations is a two-way street. The episode began with Rouhani and his nomination of Aboutalebi. Didn't he expect negative reaction from the U.S., the country he has spent so much political capital to normalize relations with? Couldn't he find any other diplomat capable of doing the work in New York?

I am not an international lawyer, but there are provisions in the UN treaty with the U.S., as its host country, that in rare cases (usually criminal or terrorist related) a diplomat accredited to the UN could be asked to be sent home. Very rare; but this particular case is also very rare. How many ambassadors are sent to New York, accused of taking part in the U.S. embassy seizure and hostage taking?

I hope the Iranian government realizes this was not a smart move and reverse its own decision. Smart move was the appointment of Zarif to foreign ministry, not Aboutalebi to the UN post.

Anonymous said...

Well the UN should not be in the biased Zionist controlled US anyway. What about over half the US "ambassadors" who headed the CIA or other violent organizations?. George Bush Senior, Negroponte, and few others come to mind who were associated with murderous CIA activities from Iran-Contra to Afghanistan.

Nader Uskowi said...

You miss the essence of the question under discussion here: Why should Iran have nominated an ambassador to go to New York whose past allegedly includes participation in seizure of the host country's embassy and taking 52 Americans, many diplomats, hostage for 444 days. If proven that he was a member of the Muslim Student Followers of Imam Line, he has committed a criminal/terrorist act against the U.S. Not the most suitable ambassador to the country, whose main function is to bring the two countries closer to each other.

You bring up a different subject which is not relevant here. That countries' diplomats include members of their intelligence agencies; like Iran who has a large number of embassy staff being members of the ministry of intelligence or the Quds Force, involved in all sorts of things at countries they are posted. (BTW, not that is important, but your examples above are not relevant, those two gentlemen became head of CIA after being ambassadors.)

Anonymous said...

I believe you are confused as usual as he is being appointed as the Iran's ambassador to the UN and not the US. The UN position is for Iran to push its diplomacy on the global forum and not merely the US which is a marginalized state anyway. Having an ambassador with revolutionary credentials is a good thing. The Zionist entity even had a PM Begin who was as terrorist from the Stern Gang and had three "ambassadors" with terrorist connections, and many countries have former freedom fighters or revolutionaries represent them at UN. The major ones include India, China, the ex-USSR, Cuba, Algeria. Kenya, South Africa, Vietnam to name a few. Let's keep some perspective here and not just echo the lame US line. Iran is an independent nation and has the right to appoint anyone to the UN which is outside of US "jurisdiction". Just because the UN is on US soil does not give it the right to bar any diplomat. US is just using its usual thuggery.

Anonymous said...

If the USA doesn't want the man in New York then he won't be in New York and Iran hasn't a choice in the matter.

Nader Uskowi said...

Confusion is on your part. Iranian ambassador to the UN still needs to obtain a US visa to enter the country. The treaty between UN and US, as UN's host country, provides rare exceptions to the rule. The US can and has withdrawn visas on rare criminal/terrorist cases.

US has provided tens of visas each year to Iranian leaders, officials and diplomats visiting New York, including the president and foreign minister and their delegations as well as the UN ambassador and all members of the Iranian delegation to the UN, and has been doing it for 35 years. If this particular case raises issues, you need to study the reason for it.

BTW, it is interesting that you bring up the importance of UN jurisdiction over its headquarters in New York. For your info, Iran was the country not recognizing US jurisdiction on its embassy in Tehran, occupying the building and taking diplomats hostage for a long time. That not-very-smart action has come back to haunt the country in many ways, with Aboutalebi's issue being a small part of it.

Anonymous said...


Do you think Rouhani after committing so much political capital to engage the west would want to rock the boat especially when things seems to be going in the right direction? The answer is obviously no. He would have considered the implication and after he is sure there's no case against his nominee, then would announced him. I expect you to at least give Rouhani some element of doubt on this. The Iran system you seem to suggest is not rational, even after so many examples of keeping their own end of the bargain with America and America doing otherwise. Look as you've said cooperation is a two party thing, if you feel Iran should be able to overlook the 1953 coup by the CIA in Iran, then America should be able to overlook the embassy hostage crisis. If the hostage issue amount to terrorism then what due you think overthrowing the government of another sovereign nation amount to? Just because America is the super power doesn't mean it has the right to lawless actions as it as done on many occasions. I am not suggesting that states should behave in careless or reckless ways but at least the two party can use this to heal old wound.

If Rouhani decided to change the nominee just because America raised an unsubstantiated allegations- it still yet to be proven that he participated in the embassy take over- don't you think these would serve as an ammo for the conservatives in Iran government. In fact it might be the end of the beginning of the nuclear agreement, as Rouhani administration would be portrayed as subverting Iran interest to please America. And in negotiations that would be perceived as weakness and might lead to more irrelevant objections being raised, a thing am sure Rouhani is aware and would want to avoid.

Nader Uskowi said...

I've never believed the system was irrational. This particular decision does not make any sense, and could be irrational. People and systems make mistake, this is Rouhani's first major one at international arena.

Rouhani does not have to change the decision because of America, but because of what's right and wrong. You don't send an ambassador to New York, who aside from his regular UN duties acts practically as the ambassador to the U.S., meeting with U.S. officials and opinion makers all the time, with such background. Simply wrong decision. Exactly the reverse of his brilliant choice of Zarif to be the FM and foreign spokesman of the country.

One way out of this problem: Rouhani/Zarif can promote Aboutalebi to a post of deputy foreign minister; technically higher than UN ambassador, at least on paper. A face saving and pragmatic move. Or any other moves they prefer. If there is a will, there is a way. A mistake is made, let's make it right soon.

Nader Uskowi said...

BTW, on this comparison of 1953 coup and embassy takeover. This is generally accepted belief, but is absolutely nonsense. Iran's religious leadership at the time of the coup, including Khomeini, were all united behind Ayatollah Kashani, their undisputed political leader at the time, and they decided to side with the Shah against Mossadeq during the coup. This is a historical fact that the Islamic Republic cannot change.

It is the height of hypocrisy for the Islamic Republic claiming that they occupied the embassy and took hostages, because they were angry at the U.S for the coup in 1953. The Islamists sided with the CIA, the British intelligence the Shah and his regime to oust Mossadeq. Now they want to justify the embassy takeover with such nonsense excuses. They are not followers of Mossadeq, but his enemies.

Anonymous said...

On this point I agree with Mr Uskowi. This religious government or their predecessors have always been anti-technocrats and never trusted educated middle classes ion Iran. Bottom line their support comes from the bazaris who are more and less all thieves and gullible lower classes who believe in that religious nonsense. They would and will never support someone like Mossadegh. Simply they don’t trust anyone that do not belong to their social group.

But again that is another matter. We are talking about what is relevant now rather than then. I don’t understand why this guy never moved *himself* aside for the sake of sanity and country. Surely the president and his foreign minister would have foreseen such reaction from the opportunists in America bent on sabotaging any improvements in relation between Iran and US. My gut feeling is that the choice of this guy would have been imposed on them by the conservatives that see their interest jeopardised by detente between Iran and US. Even dollar going down is bad news for these guys. I have been to Iran few times recently and you will see with your eyes the phoney banks, financial institutions, exchange rates etc these guys have created.

I have come to the conclusion that short of change of this regime, nothing is going to solve Iran’s problems. The best thing that Rouhani and Rafsanjani can do is do something that Gorbachev did for Soviet Union. After the death of Khamenei they should hand over Iran to a secular government. That will be the end of Islam as an institution in Iran.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is part of a game, where Pres. Rouhani will trade his current choice, of the UN ambassador, for something more valuable or for Western concessions at the nuclear talks.......

Fmr. political prisoner and refugee
Not an U..'s altar boy - replacing with the 'NUAB'

Nader Uskowi said...

Ya, there always must be something that we don't understand, some conspiracy behind curtains, something making us unable to analyze the situation. All this for not saying that a mistake was made!

Anonymous said...

AnonymousApril 9, 2014 at 8:50 AM
Well said

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr NUAB,

I do not understand your analogy! What bargaining power if any Iran has against US? What treasure, commodity or intellectual ability Iran has that US has not got? In the negotiating table who has the upper hand, Iran or US? Why US has to worry about the value of some psuedo dark skinned terrorist look alike with beard that is not even look like a diplomat. The tragedy is that this government when they want to appoint someone for such a high profile, they go after someone with least appeal.

Anonymous said...

Simplistic and shallow racism or "dark skin" is not the issue. The real issue is that UN is not a US playground and it has no right to reject any legitimate nominee from any nation. If the US can't accept this then the UN world body should be moved to neutral grounds.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:04 PM

Time passage works for the Islamic Republic and its friends, and gives them opportunity to increase their resistance levels and survival abilities.....

In a diplomacy, a gain of time, in searches to overcome threats, can be even more important, than an initial objective for those who face adversaries.

The Islamic Republic has that intelectual ability that under 'oppressions' by imperialists is able to create scientific achievements, where others could not do that despite absence of sanctions and abundance of resources...
The IRI has ambitious generation of young people, who have chosen to serve it, and increase their skills and education for that purpose.
Finally, it has system which provides social peace and prevents events associated with the Western insanity - murders at schools, churches, barracks, courts and so on........

That your '...dark skinned ...' is claiming, that he was ......a translator, and so far I don't see that fact mentioned by the authors and commentators.

fmr. political prisoner and refugee

Nader Uskowi said...

It is interesting that some of the commentators here who seemingly are in favor of the diplomatic independence of the UN, no matter if it is situated in New York, suddenly become silent on the issue of U.S. embassy takeover and taking 52 hostages, many diplomats, for 444 days. In their view, the Islamic Republic probably did not violate any norms of diplomacy and civility, and they now expect the U.S. to forgive and forget about tthe people behind the takeover.

I just guess those commentators are perhaps driven by an anti-U.S. ideology. They probably would not have objected if any other country had refused an Iranian diplomat. Iran has made a mistake here, allegedly nominating a person involved in the takeover and hostage taking to live and work in New York, and these folks blame the U.S. Very interesting!

Also, just imagine that Iran and the U.S. resume diplomatic relations in future, and U.S. nominates Dick Cheney as ambassador, although he has done nothing of the sort except tough talks, and expect the nomination to be received well in Tehran as a sign of Americans good will to start a new chapter in the relations of the two countries.

The Aboutalebi affair is beyond stupidity. Tehran needs to promote him to a deputy foreign minister position and close this case. This is truly the first serious blunder committed by Rouhani/Zarif team.

Anonymous said...

Uskowi at 9:44 PM

In the past, Mr. Aboutalebi has served at couple western countries' posts, including Australia, and there were no objections until now,......Why is that so important now?.

The Islamic Republic has several times more serious grievances, including those related to the Western support to S. Hussein to kill Iranian population and her scientists, against the US, and the other side doesn't feel obliged to address those issues......

fmr political prisoner and refugee

Anonymous said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB3HjAysN7Y --- Hostages at American embassy.

Anonymous said...

Nader Uskowi
You dont seem to be a big fan of national sovereignty when it comes to iran as your posts on this issue clearly show
If the us nominates Dick Cheney as ambassador to the un do you really think an iranian protest would lead the us to change its mind?,of course it wouldnt,and by the same token if iran really wanted to improve relations with the us it would not allow the nomination of cheney to be an obstacle to this,if the us is truly serious about improved relations then the nomination of Aboutalebi shouldnt even be an issue.This is a pretty good test of us intentions/seriousness and rouhani and co`s morale fiber,and as such the outcome will be telling

Anonymous said...

Look it is UN in US and they are entitled to veto anyone that they don't want it. Having said that US makes those decision very rarely. After all they let that clown Ahamadinedjad in? Normally restrict the movement of the diplomat within NY only. I suspect there is more to it than we are told to believe. and BTW, entering an embassy in whatever form and shape is not acceptable. Although that ahmagh Khomeini gave his backing to the bunch of idiots that stormed the embassy. As I mentioned before, Iran paid a heavy price and still paying for it after 35 years!.

Imagine if UK attacked Ecuadorian embassy in London because of that Julian Assange guy. They are not that stupid. They know that if they do so, they are going to open a can of worm.

I challenge anyone to state what benefit or benefits Iran has gained by taking over US embassy? Just do a simple cost/benefit analysis and you will know the answer. The answer is nothing, absolutely nothing. After 35 years show me one Iranian bank that can trade freely with counterparts around the World. Even beggar nations and former slaves are better off than Iran! Now you sit in the West, enjoy the freedom of expression and say how lovely Iran is and how independent it is.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:06 PM

If one doesn't respond to lies, they become a truth; like Goebbels meant or said in the past.

And most of the Western propagandas against the Islamic Republic and other countries, amounts to the lies.

Should some countries, before the second WW (as the US chose to be neutral) agree to hitler's demands and avoid destruction, because some said it is better to be compliant and gain something instead to SUFFER and gain nothing. ??

fmr political prisoner and refugee

Nader Uskowi said...

Iran's national sovereignty was not the issue here. the question was if the U.S. could deny visa to someone who had taken part in U.S. embassy takeover and hostage taking. Could the U.S. denies the visa, was it within its rights to do so. The answer should be searched in U.S.-UN treaty. The argument is that the U.S. could take such unusual, and indeed rare decision on criminal/terrorist cases. Do you have a problem with that principle?

BTW, if Iran wanted to improve relations with the U.S., it would not have nominated a man with such background. It was a mistake, stronger Iran defends the decision, harder it gets to reverse it.

Anonymous said...

Nader UskowiApril 11, 2014 at 5:24 PM
You appear to believe as the us does that iran does not have to right to choose who they see fit,this has always been about sovereignty first and foremost and us sincerity second,you and others like you seen to think that appeasement of the us will somehow convince the us that iran wants better relations,that it is up to iran to prove its sincerity,yet the us has never given a single sign that it is genuinely interest in any improvement of relations and its actions on this issue prove that beyond any doubt

Nader Uskowi said...

If Mr. Aboutalebi was charged with the takeover of embassies of Italy and Australia, I assume they would not have let him in.