The change to their titles comes after protests by lawmakers and former diplomats and also criticism from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who had warned against parallel activities in foreign affairs and other areas.
Ahmadinejad's deputy for political affairs, Mohammad Jafar Behdad, said the president followed the supreme leader's guidance and therefore the status of the special envoys was changed.
So did the famously combatant Iranian president retreat?
Rasool Nafisi, an Iran expert and professor at Strayed University, told Persian Letters that the move is "a typical Ahmadinejad tactic":
Many reformists say privately that they wished former President Muhammad Khatami had such courage, forgetting that Khatami was the leader of a de facto loyal opposition, while Ahmadinejad comes from the core of the state coercive apparatus, meaning the IRGC’s Qods force...
Mehrdad Khansari, a former Iranian diplomat and a London-based analyst, told Radio Farda that domestic pressure forced Ahmadinejad to avoid letting down Khamenei:
Just this week, two Europe-based Iranian diplomats resigned and sought asylum in reaction to events since last year’s disputed presidential vote and joined the opposition.
Some analysts have suggested that the special advisers will be in charge of monitoring the work of the Foreign Ministry and reporting to Ahmadinejad, whose relations are said to be strained lately with his foreign minister, Manuchehr Mottaki.
In recent weeks there have been rumors of Mottaki's resignation; such speculation has been dismissed by Tehran.
Mottaki reacted to the reports on September 14 by saying: "We usually respond to the politically motivated rumors spread outside the country aimed at undermining our national interests. We don't give priority to responding to other rumors."
Meanwhile, the semiofficial ILNA news agency reported that Mottaki will travel with Ahmadinejad to New York on September 18 to attend the UN General Assembly, which suggests that for now Mottaki will continue his work.
-- Golnaz Esfandiari