Iran’s new ambassador to Finland, Massoumeh Abad

Many Ask Why Iran Appointed A Midwife As Ambassador To Helsinki

Monday, 07/03/2023

Iran’s appointment last week of Massoumeh Abad, a midwife, as ambassador to Finland has raised some eyebrows among former diplomats and commentators in Tehran. 

Former Iranian diplomat Fereydoun Majlesi has said sarcastically in an interview with Didban Iran website that: "Ms. Abad can now help the pious in Finland to deliver their babies in the Islamic way." 

Although Majlesi's view can be challenged for its political incorrectness, his criticism of the irrelevance of the appointment looks valid, because the appointee has no relevant experience.

Iranian ambassadors are usually selected from the ranks of career diplomats or experienced political, military figures.

Referring to Abad's career record and her diplomatic mission, Majlesi said that the Islamic Republic has no serious presence in the international arena, so it does not need a professional diplomat for such a mission."

Former Iranian diplomat Fereydoun Majlesi

He also quipped that most probably the ambassador can be a good host at parties with Muslims in Helsinki. 

It was not only Majlesi who criticized Abad's appointment. It raised a wave of uproar from Iranians on social media. Protests in this regard came even from among political supporters of the current government. The Student Basij of Imam Sadeq University, one of the most hardline political and militia organizations in Iran, wrote in a tweet June, 28: "How has she been appointed as an ambassador after serving as a Tehran City Councillor and the head of the maternity ward of Najmiyeh Hospital? Is this meant to make the role of Iranian women prominent in the international public opinion?" 

On Twitter, user Naji Ali presented a document that Ms. Abad was one of those involved in the "astronomical real estate" corruption case at the Tehran Municipality under current parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf who gave her some property at an extremely low price. 

According to Didban Iran, Massoumeh Abad was a prisoner of war for some time during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and has written her memoirs in a book entitled: "I am alive." She has a doctorate from the Shahid Beheshti University in the field of fertility and has been a member of the Tehran City Council twice.

Massoumeh Abad published her memoirs in a book entitled "I am alive" recounting her days when she was a prisoner of war during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

The website also confirmed that Abad was implicated in the "astronomical real estate" case, which became public in 2017 as part of a huge corruption case involving the mayors’ closest aides who were Revolutionary Guard officers. Eventually, two top people were convicted by a military tribunal. It was reported at the time in local media that embezzlement and give away of city property totalled at least five billion dollars.

The website added that now that President Ebrahim Raisi has appointed several Imam Sadeq University (a dubious religious university) alumni as his cabinet ministers, it is not strange to appoint a midwife as an ambassador.

Media reports say Abad is Iran's fifth female ambassador since the 1979 revolution. Previously, Marziyeh Afkham, a career diplomat and a former foreign ministry spokesperson was appointed ambassador to Malaysia, and Afsaneh Nadipour, Forouzandeh Vadiati, and Homeyra Rigi were appointed as ambassadors in Denmark, Finland and Brunei. 

Former diplomat Majlesi observed that "When the circle of government insiders is getting increasingly smaller, then they do not have any real expert to appoint to key posts."

He added that Iran has been buying expensive buildings abroad for a long time to use as premises for embassies and someone like Ms. Abad can certainly attend to the building and keep it in a good shape. 

Social media users have pointed out that Abad's husband, Sayyed Safar Salehi was previously appointed to a mission to forge oil deals in the UK. Others on social media said that the reason for Abad's extra-ordinary promotion is that she was the gynaecologist of one of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's daughters-in-law. 

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