By Saeed Sobhani

Hopton's Unexpected Change

March 18, 2018

TEHRAN - Rob Macaire was appointed the UK ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran in succession to Nicholas Hopton, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a press release on Wednesday. This appointment was made while less than 18 months has passed since the appointment of "Nicholas Hopton" as the British Ambassador to Tehran!

 Some political analysts believe that the dismissal of Hopton has been directly linked to the British Foreign Minister, "Boris Johnson" recent visit to Tehran. In other words, weeks have passed since the British Foreign Secretary has made his final decision on changing his country's ambassador to Iran. It is obvious that the change of the British ambassador to Tehran, though it is considered within the authority of the UK Foreign Ministry, is not quite normal and can't be simply ignored.

Rob Macaire, Britain's new ambassador to Tehran, is a diplomat with military, intelligence and economic background. His main duty seems to be in accordance with the JCPOA, dealing with regional developments, increasing the level of economic relations and re-defining Iran-Britain trade relations. Given Rob Macaire's specialty in security, military, and economic spheres, Boris Johnson seems to have asked him to have highlighted role in all three areas.

A review of Rob Macaire's record shows that he has played an active role in his country's military, security and economic spheres:

Rob Macaire joined the Ministry of Defence in 1987, and worked on a number of issues including procurement policy and supporting Special Forces, before transferring to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1990. His first diplomatic posting was in Bucharest, Romania from 1991 to 1995. He returned to the UK to work on the Middle East, following which he was posted to Washington, as First Secretary Middle East and Counter Terrorism, from 1998-2002.

 In 2002 Macaire returned to London to head the Counter Terrorism Policy Department in the Foreign Office in the immediate post 9/11 period. He served as Political Counsellor in New Delhi, India from 2004 to 2006, during which time he led a team responding to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in Phuket, Thailand. He returned to London as Director of Consular Services, responsible for all support to UK nationals abroad, including crisis response. In 2008 he was appointed British High Commissioner to Nairobi, Kenya, where he served until 2011.Macaire was working as Director of Political Risk in BG Group plc before coming to Tehran.
Regarding the appointment of the new British ambassador to Tehran, Boris Johnson has pointed out:

"Iran has an important role to play in the Middle East region, but it is essential that it does so in a constructive way – something I made clear during my visit to Tehran in December last year. The Iran deal, signed in 2015, was a huge diplomatic success. The product of years of patient and persistent diplomacy that extinguished the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.

In that vein, I am pleased that Rob will be applying his wealth of international experience to leading the government’s engagement in Tehran. We face challenges – including the ongoing cases of British dual-nationals detained in Iran – and areas for potential collaboration. I look forward to working with him across these areas".

Johnson has stated indirectly that he was not satisfied with the performance of the former British ambassador in these areas. However, the real reason for the dismissal of the former ambassador of England is not clear yet

After being appointed as UK's new ambassador to Tehran, Rob Macaire referred to two key points: one of them was about the JCPOA and the other on regional issues. The same subjects indicate that the UK new ambassador has a certain plan:

 “I'm honored to be appointed the new British ambassador to Iran. The UK’s continued engagement with Iran is vital to our goal of making the Middle East region a safer and more stable place, I look forward to working with the government of Iran and with international partners to preserve the [2015 Iran] nuclear deal and deepen our bilateral relationship, through constructive engagement on human rights, trade, and seeking political solutions to the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere,” Macaire stated.
 Macaire would officially take up his appointment in April 2018. Undoubtedly, in the near future, we will hear more about the new English Ambassador and his positions.

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