Will his cabinet get the Parliament approval?

15 August 2005

President Ahmadinejad's cabinet more looks like a pizza cabinet.

The first group are the gate-keepers. They are hardliners with reputable intelligence credentials. Mohseni-Ejehyi (the Clerical and Revolutionary Court Judge and Intelligence Ministry's Public Prosecutor), Pourmohadmmadi (a high-ranking intelligence/security official), Karimi-rad (Judiciary's Spokesperson and a former revolutionary/common-courts public prosecutor), with Safar Harandi (the Kayhan Press Institute's Director; the flagship of hardliner press media with provocative reports against freedom of speech for secular intellectuals and Khatami-type reformists), and Motaki (parliament's national security and foreign affairs committee chair) will form the Cabinet's core. The gate-keepers will ensure that the Cabinet poses as a cohesive group of servants with an unwavering focus on implementing Supreme Leader's vision of regimes' general policies, the nominations are self-explanatory: Mohseni Ejehyi (Intelligence), Pourmohammadi (Interior), Karimirad (Justice), Safar-Harandi (Culture and Islamic Guidance), and Motaki (Foreign Affairs).

Most nominees are revolution's second generation ministers. Most were either too young to become high-ranking government managers the 1980s, or were high school/university students then starting their careers as high-ranking managers in the post-Khomeini era. As high-ranking managers in municipal/government positions, they enjoy vague "conservative" leanings. As the 1980s and Rafsanjani generation of managers, they mostly have "conservative" looks. In those times, in order to keep one's post, even if one was not truly "conservative" or "hardliner", one would behave as such. Managers like Saeedlu (for one), with an uncorrupted managerial profile are rare species. Ali Saeedlu (Oil Ministry; with a Masters in Science from Oklahoma University and PhD in Finanicial Management) started serious public service managerial position when Ahmadinejad appointed him head of Tehran's municipality Finance Department (June 2003). He apparently is not affiliated with hardliners at all. Hence, many of the second group cabinet nominees are unknown figures with little or no national politics experience.

The third group are former revolutionary guard commanders like Danesh-Jafari Finance) and Mohammad Najar (Defence), who will join the gate-keepers in leading the cabinet. Others were involved in the Jihad of Construction (a revolutionary foundation created by Ayatollah Khomeini's order to conduct development in villages and rural towns of the country in the 1980s), such as Rahmati (Transportation), Ashari (Education), and Eskandari (Agriculture).

The gate-keepers and several revolutionary guard and Jihadi members of the third group appear to have a good chance of getting in, but many others may not fare as well. Unsurprisingly, ISNA reports mixed reactions from Majles deputies of all stripes. Reformists and moderate conservatives have called it a very politically aligned and hardliner cabinet, because militant hardliners are now going to control Intelligence, Justice, Foreign Affairs, Islamic guidance and Interior ministries. Hardliners are unhappy because many of their politically notable confederates are not on the list.

As politics, not merits, will decide the fate of the nominees, the parliament might force Ahamdinejad to get into a lot of backroom dealings. That is why he tried to keep the list secret until the last minute, but to no avail. I do not think that the cabinet will receive an acclamation of confidence, and in fact all of the ministers will be scrutinised one by one in the end.

Posted by Shahram Kholdi

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