Ali Shamkhani, a steadfast ally of Iran’s supreme leader, has resigned as the nation’s top security official, according to Iranian state media – just days after a ‘close ally’ was executed over spying allegations. The resignation also comes two months after he agreed to a deal to settle a political conflict with Saudi Arabia that was mediated by China.
According to insiders in Iran, Shamkhani’s resignation from the Supreme National Security Council is unlikely to have an impact on the nation’s policies.
Instead, rumours suggest that he might be given consideration for a “more significant role” inside Iran’s ruling elite.
Iran also announced on Saturday that it had executed Ali Reza Akbari, a former senior defence ministry official and dual Iranian-British citizen, despite international warnings against carrying out the death sentence.
Tensions between Iran and the West have increased as a result of this execution, as nationwide anti-government protests continue.
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Akbari, who was closely linked to Ashamkhani, was hanged, which draws attention to an ongoing power struggle within Iran’s theocracy as it struggles to deal with the widespread protests brought on by Mahsa Amini’s passing in September.
Additionally, it serves as a reminder of the widespread purges that the Iranian military underwent in the days following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The UK, along with the United States and other nations, expressed immediate outrage following the hanging of Akbari.
Both London and Washington DC have imposed sanctions on Iran due to the ongoing protests and its provision of bomb-carrying drones to Russia, which are currently being used against Ukraine.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has described the execution as a “cowardly act”.
He said: “This was a callous and cowardly act, carried out by a barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people.”
James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, acted by calling the Iranian chargé d’affaires in the UK and temporarily recalling the British ambassador from Tehran.
Britain also placed sanctions on Iran’s attorney general and cleverly highlighted the fact that the reaction to Iran goes beyond the current predicament. In retaliation for the killing, Iran summoned the British ambassador.
Iran’s Mizan news agency, which is connected to the nation’s court, broke the news of Ali Reza Akbari’s hanging. Though there were rumours that it had happened a few days before, the precise timing of the execution was not made public.
Without providing any supporting information, Iran charged Akbari with working as an informant for MI6 in Britain.
Iran’s court claimed in a comprehensive statement that in return for supplying information to the spy agency, Akbari had reportedly got a sizable quantity of money, British citizenship, and other benefits in London.
Tehran has been accusing anyone who travels abroad or has contacts with Western nations of spying for a long time and has regularly done so. These claims are commonly used as a negotiating chip.