Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a senior career service employee at the State Department and a hold-over from the Obama and Bush administrations, has been removed from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s policy planning team, according to a report by Politico.
Nowrouzzadeh was an integral member of the team that drafted the much-maligned 2015 deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran over that theocratic dictatorship’s nuclear program. During the negotiations leading up to that deal, Breitbart News reported that Nowrouzzadeh previously had worked for the National-Iranian American Council, a lobbying group with connections to Iran’s Islamic fundamentalist leadership.
According to Politico, Nowrouzzadeh has been reassigned to the State Department’s Office of Iranian Affairs. As a career service employee, Nowrouzzadeh is protected from outright dismissal over political leanings.
The move comes after Secretary Tillerson announced Wednesday that a review of the nuclear deal would take place despite apparent Iranian compliance with its terms.
Breitbart News reported last month that Nowrouzzadeh was still in the senior position she has occupied since last July. Politico cites multiple State Department sources as saying that the work of independent media outlets like Breitbart in raising the alarm over Nowrouzzadeh’s continued presence in the upper echelons of State Department policymaking played a role in the decision to reassign her.
Obama political appointee Philip Gordon, who served with Nowrouzzadeh during the last administration, defended Nowrouzzadeh and did not approve of her assignment. He expressed dismay over the perceived influence of the independent media, telling Politico, “If people writing these pieces are not happy with the Trump foreign policy that may be because the president and vice president and Cabinet officers decided not to do things that are not in their interest.”
Gordon also accused Breitbart News and other outlets of criticizing Nowrouzzadeh based purely on her Persian ethnicity. “If Donald Trump hasn’t torn up the Iran nuclear deal, it may be because he realized that would be a bad idea,” he said, “And it’s not because one of his policy planning staffers has a family of Iranian origin.”