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Who Is Saeed Jalili, Khamenei Loyalist Demonstrating Stubbornness in Iranian Regime’s Foreign Affairs

saeed-jalili-former-negotiator

Full Name: Saeed Jalili
Date of Birth: September 6, 1965
Place of Birth: Mashhad, Iran
Current Positions: Member of the Strategic Council for Foreign Relations, Representative of Khamenei in the Supreme National Security Council, and Member of the Expediency Discernment Council

Saeed Jalili, a prominent and controversial figure within Iran’s clerical regime, is known for his unwavering loyalty to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his extreme stance on foreign affairs. His journey began on the front lines of the Iran-Iraq war, where he served as a Basij militant from his high school years through university. In 1986, while serving as a forward observer for the Imam Reza Division of Khorasan during Operation Karbala-V, he was severely injured and lost his right leg.

Early Career

Jalili’s career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs began in 1989, where he quickly rose through the ranks:

  • 1989: Political Attaché, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • 1991: Head of the Inspection Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • 1992: Third Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • 1994: Second Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • 1995: First Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • 1997: Foreign Policy Advisor during Khatami’s first presidency
  • 1997: Third Counselor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • 1997: Deputy Director of the North and Central America Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • 1998: Second Counselor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Former Iranian regime president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (left) and Saeed Jalili (right)

During Mohammad Khatami’s presidency, Jalili served as Deputy Director overseeing the Americas at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs until 1997. After being dismissed from this position, he was appointed as the senior director of policy planning in the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2001.

Return to Prominence

In 2005, during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration, Jalili returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister for Europe and America. He quickly gained Ahmadinejad’s trust in foreign policy matters.

  • 2004: Advisor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
  • 2005: Deputy Foreign Minister for Europe and America

In October 2007, Gholam-Hossein Elham, the spokesperson for Ahmadinejad’s government, announced Ali Larijani’s resignation from the position of Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, and Saeed Jalili was introduced for this role. He took over the sensitive nuclear negotiations with world powers.

  • 2007-2013: Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council
  • Since 2007: Member of the Supreme National Security Council
  • Since 2008: Representative of Khamenei in the Supreme National Security Council

Nuclear Negotiations and Sanctions

Jalili’s tenure as head of the Iranian negotiating team for nuclear negotiations with world powers was marked by a confrontational and uncompromising approach. His rigid stance and unwillingness to make concessions led to the imposition of severe sanctions by the United Nations, the United States, and the European Union. These sanctions drastically reduced Iran’s oil exports and foreign exchange revenues, pushing the regime to its knees.

Saeed Jalili (center) offering condolences to slain IRGC Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani (left) at the funeral ceremony of Soleimani’s mother – Sep 2013

During his time as Chief Nuclear Negotiator, three United Nations Security Council resolutions were adopted against Tehran from March 2008 to June 2010, placing the regime under Chapter 7, Article 41 of the United Nations Charter and labeling it a threat to global peace and security. Jalili, however, boasted about the regime’s progress in nuclear capabilities during his tenure, despite international pressure to halt enrichment activities.

Western negotiators often accused Jalili of stalling negotiations by focusing on historical grievances rather than engaging in substantive discussions. Regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Jalili expressed strong reservations, arguing that without strict conditions, the agreement would be disastrous for Iran. He stated, “If the JCPOA was a good agreement, the Supreme Leader, the Parliament, and the Supreme National Security Council would not have added 28 conditions for its implementation.”

Economic Views

In the 2013 presidential debates, Jalili was known for some unconventional and often criticized economic views. For instance, he suggested that with $11 billion, extensive employment could be created by increasing domestic production of items such as popsicle sticks, which were being imported. This statement was widely mocked and highlighted his lack of practical economic solutions.

Shadow Government Proposal

Saeed Jalili (left) standing next to extremist cleric Mesbah Yazdi (center-left), former Guardian Council Chief Ahmad Jannati (center-right), and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (right)

Following his defeat in the 2013 presidential election, Jalili proposed creating a shadow government to assist the incumbent administration and reduce its shortcomings. Although initially overlooked, he reiterated this idea in 2017, suggesting it to his supported candidate, Ebrahim Raisi. Despite this, the concept of a shadow government has not gained significant traction.

Conclusion

Saeed Jalili remains a notorious figure in Iranian politics, known for his extremist positions and unwavering loyalty to Khamenei. His influence continues to shape Tehran’s strategic decisions on both domestic and international fronts, often leading to increased tensions and the continuum of belligerence and support for global terrorism. His career, marked by a steadfast commitment to the regime’s most controversial policies, continues to be a point of contention both within Iran and internationally.