Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook addresses reporters at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on December 5, 2019. (US State Department)

By Behrouz Turani

August 7, 2020

Iranian officials and media have reacted with glee to the resignation of Brian Hook as the United States’ Special representative for Iran and have angrily greeted the arrival of his successor Elliot Abrams.

The special envoy’s departure was also widely discussed in the Iranian media and social media, with some commenting that while Trump’s anti-Iran team was losing some of its fiercest members, everyone in Iran had stayed put. The reference was also about the earlier departure of John Bolton.

The spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry who usually speaks for the regime rather than the Foreign Ministry, said in a tweet that as far as the Islamic Republic is concerned, there is “no difference between John Bolton, Brian Hook, or Elliot Abrams when it comes to the United States’ Iran policy.”

Mousavi added in the harshly worded tweet: “American officials have been bitten off more than they could chew. Same applies to Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump and their successors.”

At the end of the tweet, Mousavi added the hashtag “bankrupt US policy.”

Ali Shamkhani the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme national Security Council wrote in a tweet that “the objective of the “maximum pressure” strategy has changed from regime change to preventing Iran from becoming rich! Brian [Hook] left the White House with frustration like John [Bolton]. Perhaps Mike [Pompeo] will also need to pack up his suitcase before Donald [Trump] leaves.”

Alireza Mir Yousefi, Iran’s envoy to the United Nations organization had said earlier, “Hook’s resignation has nothing to do with us. It is not a determining development. The U.S. maximum pressure policy has been defeated. At the same time, this policy and those who launched it can never bring Iran to its knees.”

Meanwhile, the Iranian official news agency IRNA which is close to President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, presented a detailed profile of Brian Hook in a long commentary headlined “Brian Hook, the defeated player of the United States’ anti-Iranian policies”. A biography would have been perfect if it was published when Hook took office as U.S. special representative for Iran in 2018 and not when he resigned.

IRNA reminded that Pompeo’s critics in the United States had criticized the establishment of the Iran Task Force at the Department of State at the time, calling it “a wrong move” meant to “weaken Iran to the point that it would become subordinate to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel, and to force it to withdraw from its regional positions.”

The IRNA commentary characterized Hook as a hardline advocate of Trump’s sanctions against Iran. It said that Hook introduced the three branches of the United States’ policy regarding Iran as economic pressures, diplomatic isolation and military deterrence.

IRNA also cited the New York Times writing about resignation: “Hook’s exit from m the Department of State will erase the Trump Administration’s last hopes for negotiating with Iran before the US Presidential Election in November.”

In another development, IRGC-linked news agency Tasnim carried an interview with hardline academic Fuad Izadi about the development.

Izadi said in the interview that it was still not clear whether Hook has resigned or has been dismissed. Nevertheless, he claimed that the U.S. government would have not dismissed Brian Hook if its maximum pressure policy against Iran was successful.

Speaking about Hook’s successor Elliot Abrams, Izadi claimed that Abram’s has not been successful in his job as the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela during the past year or so. “He was not successful in overthrowing the government of Venezuela whose stability is nothing to be compared with that of the Islamic Republic, and yet he wants to implement the maximum pressure policy against Tehran.”

He said Hook’s dismissal or resignation is “yet another proof for the chaos and confusion in the U.S. administration.”

Asked if the development is a sign that the United States’ policy regarding Iran is changing, Izadi said: “Pompeo is still the United States Secretary of State. Therefore, Hook’s removal cannot signal any change in U.S. policy toward Iran.”

RFE-RL

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.