Iran General NewsIran parliament rejects third oil chief nominee

Iran parliament rejects third oil chief nominee

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Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Nov. 23 – In an unprecedented but widely expected move, Iran’s hardline-dominated parliament rejected on Wednesday a third nominee put forward by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the influential portfolio of Oil Minister. Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Nov. 23 – In an unprecedented but widely expected move, Iran’s hardline-dominated parliament rejected on Wednesday a third nominee put forward by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the influential portfolio of Oil Minister.

Mohsen Tasalloti received 77 positive votes from the 254 Majlis deputies who attended the vote, while 139 deputies voted against him and 38 others abstained.

Tasalloti was the third candidate put forward by Ahmadinejad for the key government post that has remained vacant for three months, as factional wrangling within the conservative camp under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei continues.

Tasalloti’s official biography said that the 51-year-old was a former head of the petrochemical organisation at Bandar Mahshahr, southern Iran, and had worked for the state-run National Petrochemicals Company for over a decade.

It also mentions that he formerly headed the Interior Ministry’s construction office and was a deputy governor of Markazi and West Azerbaijan provinces, in central and north-western Iran respectively.

But a former government official told Iran Focus that Tasalloti had spent years in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in the same unit as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After leaving the Guards Corps, he maintained close ties with the clerical regime’s senior military and security officials; ties that critics say were instrumental in allowing him to rise from impoverished roots to become a billionaire entrepreneur.

Earlier this month, the hard-line president nominated Seyed Sadegh Mahsouli, another IRGC veteran with impeccable revolutionary credentials but with virtually no experience in the oil and financial sectors, as the country’s new Oil Minister. With the Majlis set to reject him, Mahsouli withdrew his candidacy.

Prior to that, Ahmadinejad nominated his close confidante Ali Saeedlou for the post. A former deputy director of the Defence Industries Organisation affiliated to the Ministry of Defence, Saeedlou was the chief representative of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (secret police) in the Ministry of Commerce, and a former staff member of the Supreme National Security Council. Majlis rejected his candidacy.

Until now, Iran’s former President Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had held an unofficial reign over what Iranians widely refer to as the country’s “Oil Mafia”, with his sons, close relatives, and political protégés controlling the Oil Ministry and the shadowy network of privately-owned companies working in Iran’s petroleum sector.

Ahmadinejad had vowed prior to the elections earlier this year that, when in power, he would clean up the “Oil Mafia” in Iran. He left little doubt that he was targeting Rafsanjani’s control of the oil sector.

Iran ranks second in oil production among the OPEC states, accounting for some 80 percent of the country’s export revenues.

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