Iran has appointed a new ambassador to Syria to replace Ahmad Mousavi, who decided to quit his post amid growing popular protests against President Bashar Al Assad and his rule.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Saturday named Mohammadreza Raouf Sheybani to replace Mr. Mousavi. Mr. Sheybani was the former deputy at the Foreign Ministry’s Islamic Republic Middle East department.
Mr. Moussavi was Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s vice president for legal affairs and a member of the Iranian parliament from the Arab-majority Ahwaz province.
The Kaleme opposition website last week reported that Mr. Mousavi was planning to leave Damascus, amid growing opposition protests against President Assad and his Baathist regime. Syrian authorities were very critical of the ambassador’s decision, Kaleme reported.
“Ahmad Mousavi has made excuses, such as raising the possibility that he may run in Iran's parliamentary election, to explain his sudden departure from Damascus,” the opposition website reported, adding that Mr. Mousavi’s departure was a sign the political situation in Syria was critical.
Keleme quoted an unnamed Syrian diplomat saying that Iranian embassy staff have vacated their homes in Damascus and sent their families back to Iran in fear of the regime’s imminent collapse.
Iran’s support for the crackdown on protesters in Syria has triggered anger against Iranians living in Syria, the diplomat said.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain had already recalled their ambassadors from Syria. Iran had described popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt as part of an “Islamic awakening.” But when the protests began in Syria, Tehran described them as part of an American conspiracy.