He was the Iranian envoy to the United Nations barred from entering the U.S. because of his role as an interpreter for the militant student group that took American diplomats hostage in 1979.
After keeping a low profile, Aboutalebi, who is also an adviser to President Hassan Rouhani, is tweeting about how Iran and the U.S. should join forces against Sunni insurgents in Iraq.
On June 15, with fighters from ISIS taking control of Mosul, the biggest city in northern Iraq, Aboutalebi reached out to the U.S.
Aboutalebi in his most prolific outburst tweeted 11 messages on how to resolve the Iraqi crisis, including one that said ,“Iran and the U.S. are the only two countries from a perspective of regional power that can peacefully end Iraq’s crisis.” And: “Iran and America have both never disregarded the implicit possibility of cooperation to solve the crisis in Iraq.”
Of course, this being Iran, the messages are mixed.
“When we see America take action against terrorist groups in Iraq, then it can be judged and spoken about it,” Aboutalebi also tweeted.
After expending his energies, Aboutalebi kept his own counsel, keeping quiet since June 15 after hardliners in Iran rejected any cooperation with the U.S. on Iraq.
On Wednesday, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces General Hassan Firouzabadi said: “Cooperation between Iran and the U.S. will never take place and is meaningless.”
Aboutalebi is a relative newbie to Twitter diplomacy, even though most Islamic Republic political figures have their own account despite the official ban on most social media.
Aboutalebi has posted an anemic 48 messages, all in Persian, on his Twitter page since his debut on April 10, when he complained that the U.S. was breaking international agreements by denying him entry to take his post.
That was when President Barrack Obama signed a law that would prohibit anyone who has engaged in espionage or terrorism against the U.S. from obtaining a visa to enter the country as a U.N. envoy.
A month later, Aboutalebi, or his tech savvy staff, tested the social media scene, in earnest tweeting about trips he took with Rouhani. He fired off eight tweets over two days in May on Rouhani’s trip to Shanghai for a security conference and another 11 about the president’s visit to Turkey.
Then on June 12, the Iraqi situation brought out this tweet: “Moments ago, Rouhani’s conversation with Maliki ended and Rouhani was accurately informed of the Iraq situation. Rouhani’s firmness in the fight against violence and terrorism is admirable.”
In another tweet on June 12, Aboutalebi warned that the insurgents wanted to break up Iraq but the Sunni population will not support this move. “The occupation of parts of northern Iraq can be the beginning of the breakup of Iraq into three countries, Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish. If Iraq is broken up it will change the territorial shape of the region.”
“Time is passing and Arabs believe delay has costs,” Aboutalebi said in his last tweet on June 15, using a phrase from a poem by 13th Century Persian poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, also known as Mowlana, or Rumi.
زمان می گذردواعراب براین باورند که فی التاخیرآفات
— Hamid Aboutalebi (@DrAboutalebi) June 15, 2014