Iran Focus: London, Dec. 04 In the latest turn in months of infighting over the control of Irans giant petroleum industry, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday nominated Acting Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh to occupy the key post. Iran Focus
London, Dec. 04 In the latest turn in months of infighting over the control of Irans giant petroleum industry, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday nominated Acting Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh to occupy the key post.
Vaziri-Hamaneh is a veteran Oil Ministry official who served in the previous government as a deputy oil minister. The important portfolio has remained vacant since August, as deputies in the hardline-dominated parliament (Majlis) voted down three other nominees for the job on the grounds that they were not capable of handling the vital oil sector.
Iran is the world’s fourth biggest crude producer and derives 80 percent of its export earnings from oil and gas.
The Majlis is due to vote next week on the new nomination. Early reactions from the various factions in Irans parliament gave Vaziri-Hamaneh a better chance of survival that his predecessors.
“He has 30 years of experience in the oil sector and I personally back him. He is an expert, committed, a follower of the Supreme Leader and religious,” Kamal Daneshyar, head of the Majlis energy commission, told the official IRNA news agency.
The debacle over finding an oil minister has dented the image of Irans hard-line president and hurt the economy of Iran, according to political and economic experts.
One of Ahmadinejads central election promises was to root out the oil mafia and bring oil revenues to peoples dinner table. He regularly vows to cut off the hands of powerful persons who are pocketing huge profits from the oil sales.
The process and procedure for oil sales must be completely legal, transparent and accountable, the government-owned news agency ISNA on Sunday quoted Ahmadinejad as saying. There must be no profiteering by political parties or personalities here and there. Nothing must happen in the dark.
Observers believe Irans former President Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whose sons and close relatives have had sizeable personal involvement in the countrys oil trade, is the target of Ahmadinejads anti-corruption campaign.
Basically, there are two blocs in the Majlis who are frustrating Ahmadinejads bid to take control of the Oil Ministry, said Simon Bailey, a Persian Gulf analyst at the London-based Gulf Intelligence Monitor. You have deputies who are taking their cue from Rafsanjani. But more importantly, there is a bloc of ultra-conservatives headed by Ahmad Tavakkoli. They are also opposed to Rafsanjanis oil ventures, but they want their own man running the Oil Ministry, not Ahmadinejads crony.
Remember that political parties are not powerful institutions there, so you have loose alliances forming and breaking all the time. In this Majlis, a lot of things are decided by two powerful ultra-conservative figures, Ahmad Tavakkoli and Mohammad-Reza Bahanor. Despite being in the same ultra-conservative camp, they are emerging more as rivals than partners.