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Iran top security official implies he is stepping down after nearly 10 years

May 22, 2023 at 2:52 pm

Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran in the Iranian capital Tehran. [ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images]

The head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) in a cryptic Twitter post, Sunday evening, implied he is leaving his position after nearly 10 years, fuelling debate about his succession, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Ali Shamkhani posted a verse from 16th-century Iranian poet, Muhtasham Kashani, in a tweet, which immediately fuelled speculation about his resignation.

Nour News, which is affiliated with the SNSC, said the top security official’s departure is “certain”.

Shamkhani, an ethnic Arab, has held the post of SNSC Secretary since September 2013 when he replaced Saeed Jalili, a top conservative figure and a former presidential candidate.

Shamkhani is the second-longest serving top security official in the country after former President, Hassan Rouhani, who held the chair for 16 years from 1989 to 2005.

A veteran of the Iran-Iraq War who served as the Naval Commander in both the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the army, Shamkhani went on to become the Minister of Defense in 1997 and also ran for the presidency in 2001.

He is also a military advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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Shamkhani, in March, led talks on behalf of Iran with Saudi Arabia in Beijing that led to the restoration of diplomatic ties between the two regional rivals after seven years.

He then dashed off to Abu Dhabi, where he held high-profile talks with his Emirati counterpart as well as the country’s Emir and President to resurrect ties with the United Arab Emirates.

Shamkhani was, in February 2020, put on a sanctions list by the US Treasury Department, a month after the US State Department had designated him.

Official confirmation of his stepping down as head of the SNSC has not come yet, but speculation is already rife about possible candidates who can replace him.

Names such as former IRGC Commander, Mohammad Ali Jafari, and former SNSC secretary, Saeed Jalili, are already doing the rounds on social media.

The SNSC is a powerful government body that is tasked with formulating national security policies under guidelines set by the supreme leader’s office.

The SNSC secretary is appointed by the president.

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