October 25, 2021
An alleged birthday party for EU envoy, Enrique Mora, who recently traveled to Tehran to discuss the nuclear talks, has led to controversy in the Iranian media.
A few days after Mora’s one-day trip, Vatan-e Emrooz, a daily founded by an aide of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, published a report saying that the Iranian foreign ministry held a birthday party for the European envoy. The news led to some controversy on Twitter, and other media in Iran reprinted the report.
As of Sunday, October 24, Vatane-e Emrooz website seems to have been blocked by Iranian censors and its Instagram page is also not available. Its Twitter account has been inactive since October 20 when it published its report about the birthday party.
Screen shot showing Vatan-e Emrooz website out of reach on October 24.
Mora had traveled to Tehran to break an impasse in reconvening the Vienna nuclear talks between Iran and world powers. Iran has stopped attending the meetings since June.
Both centrist and reformist media have criticized the foreign ministry, which has so far not officially denied the report by Vatan-e Emrooz. The centrist Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) while reporting on the birthday party, has pointed out that the move by the foreign ministry was out of order, “considering the state of relations between Iran and the other side [West] in the JCPOA negotiations.”
The reformist newspaper Entekhab, however, has gone much farther, accusing the hardliners, who control the foreign ministry, of hypocrisy in their constant attacks on former foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif when he was interacting with Western diplomats, and now when they reportedly hold a birthday party for Mora.
Entekhab in an article on Saturday emphasized that the foreign ministry has not denied the report by Vatan-e Emrooz. The website said that its reporters have tried in vain to obtain the reaction of parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee. One conservative lawmaker told Entekhab, “I am not aware of the controversy”.
The website also drew attention to the silence of hardliner media over the issue. It mentioned the example of the ultra-conservative Kayhan daily, affiliated with the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. While Kayhan harshly attacked Zarif for a stroll with former US Secretary of State John Kerry in 2015, now it ignores the rumor about the birthday party, the website said. It added that allowing the foreign ministry to do its job is good news, but it shows the hypocrisy of the hardliners, who constantly impeded Zarif’s work.
During his visit to Tehran, Mora met Ali Bagheri Kani, the new man in charge of the nuclear file in Iran’s foreign ministry and a well-know hardliner. Entekhab quotes Kani’s anti-Western remarks in the past and contrasts it with the alleged birthday party.