Iran’s parliament has approved most of President Hassan Rohani’s cabinet picks, allowing the government to start work, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said on Thursday.
He said on live television the proposed ministers of education, Mohammad Ali Najafi, of science, research and technology, Jafar Mili-Monfared--both considered close to reformists--and Masoud Sontanifar, at sports and youth, were rejected during Thursday voting session, Al-Alam reported.
Among the key nominations approved by the conservative-dominated Majlis were Mohammad Javad Zarif as foreign minister and Bijan Zanganeh for the oil portfolio.
Voting was on a candidate-by-candidate basis and not on the 18-member cabinet as a whole. Rohani now has three months to fill the three posts left vacant.
Zanganeh, who is highly respected in the energy industry and on the international scene, earlier served as oil minister between 1997 and 2005 under reformist president Mohammad Khatami.
However, he faced heavy criticism during the four days of parliamentary debate on newly-elected Rohani’s nominations, for both his ties to reformists and over alleged corruption in oil contracts.
As for the new foreign minister, Zarif, who holds a US doctorate in international law, served as the Islamic Republic’s ambassador to the United Nations between 2002 and 2007.
He also played a leading role in nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers in 2003-2005 at a time when Rohani led his country’s delegation.
Rohani has said the priority of his all-male team of technocrats will be to tackle Iran’s economic crisis and its nuclear program in a bid to lift several rounds of punishing western sanctions.
In another key appointment, Ali Akbar Salehi, the foreign minister in the government of Rohani’s predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was named to head Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.
Salehi, who holds a doctorate in nuclear science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earlier headed the organization between 2009 and 2010 before taking up the post of foreign minister.
In an address to parliament at the start of the debate on Monday, Rohani stressed on Iran’s ailing economy and condemned western methods to apply pressure.
International sanctions have crippled the once lucrative oil sector, cut its access to global banking and contributed to soaring inflation.
He added that ‘in the field of diplomacy, the government was going to try to tackle this international challenge while defending the nation’s will’ to safeguard its nuclear rights.
At his first press conference after taking office on August 4, Rohani had called for ‘serious’ talks with the international community without delay to allay concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.
But he said he would not give up Iran’s ‘rights’ to enrich uranium for civilian energy purposes.
The following list is Rohani’s Cabinet members:
Minister of Oil: Bijan Namdar Zanganeh
Minister of Interior: Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli
Minister of Economy: Ali Tayebnia
Minister of Intelligence: Mahmoud Alavi
Minister of Energy: Hamid Chitchian
Minister of Defense: Hossein Dehqan
Minister of Industries, Mines and Trade: Mohammad Reza Ne’matzadeh
Minister of Labor, Cooperative and Welfare: Ali Rabiei
Minister of Agriculture: Mahmoud Hojjati
Minister of Roads and Urban Development: Abbas Akhoundi
Minister of Health: Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi
Minister of Foreign Affairs: Mohammad Javad Zarif
Minister of Justice: Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi
Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance: Ali Jannati
Minister of Information and Communications Technology: Mahmoud Vaezi
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei endorsed Rohani for a four-year term in office as Iran’s new president in a ceremony on August 3.
Rohani won the June 14 presidential election with 50.7 percent of a total of more than 36 million ballots. Voter turnout in the election was 72.7 percent.
Iran Denounces Beirut Bomb Blast
The Islamic Republic of Iran has strongly condemned the recent terrorist bomb blast in the south of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, which left many dead or wounded.
“The resilient Lebanese people, particularly the Islamic resistance, will definitely thwart the wicked plot by the Zionists and their allies to destabilize Lebanon and sow discord among ethnic groups on the anniversary of the glorious victories in the 33-day war,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi said on Thursday, referring to Hezbollah’s successful defense of Lebanon against an Israeli invasion in 2006, Press TV reported.
At least 24 people were killed and 200 injured in a massive car explosion which hit the Shia-populated Zahiyeh area between Bir El-Abed and Roueiss neighborhoods in Beirut on Thursday. The area is a stronghold of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.
The spokesperson expressed sympathy with the bereaved families of the victims of the criminal act, saying the Islamic resistance front and Hezbollah are ‘enduring and fundamental’ elements in defending Lebanon’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty.
“The resilient Lebanese people will never allow foreigners and aggressors to dispossess them of their inalienable right to legitimate defense, and by maintaining their unity and vigilance will cut off the hands of aggressors targeting Lebanon’s national unity and sovereignty,” Araqchi stated.
Lebanese President Michel Sleiman said on Thursday night that the deadly bombing bears the hallmarks of an Israeli attack.
“This is a criminal act that bears the fingerprints of terrorism and Israel, and is aimed to destabilize Lebanon and deal a blow to the resilience of the Lebanese,” Sleiman said.
Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced that Friday would be a national day of mourning.
The bombing occurred only one day after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah claimed responsibility for a defensive action in which several Israeli soldiers were wounded upon entering the Lebanese territory.
Salehi, Brahimi Discuss Syria Crisis
Former foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi and UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi stressed the need for a political solution to the crisis in Syria.
In a telephone conversation, the officials called on all sides to throw their weight behind a negotiated solution to the prolonged unrest in the Arab country.
Salehi praised Brahimi for his efforts to end the crisis in Syria and invited the UN envoy to visit Tehran for further talks on the issue, Press TV reported on Thursday.
For his part, Brahimi also hailed the Islamic Republic for its sustained efforts to help find a solution to violence in Syria and Tehran’s active participation in different conferences held on Syria.
Brahimi thanked Salehi for his invitation and expressed willingness to visit Tehran.
Turmoil has gripped Syria since March 2011, and tens of thousands of people, including large numbers of Syrian security forces, have been killed in the unrest.
According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions of others displaced in the violence.
The Syrian government says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.
Damascus blames western countries and some of their regional allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of arming the opposition and fueling the crisis in the country, as reports indicate that a large number of insurgents fighting the Syrian government are foreign nationals.
Speaker: Cabinet Debates Prove Iran Democracy
Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said the heated and solemn parliamentary debates on the credentials of proposed ministers proved the democratic nature of the political system in the Islamic Republic.
Addressing reporters on Thursday at the end of four days of debate in the Majlis on the qualifications of President Hassan Rohani’s Cabinet picks, Larijani said the legislators raised decisive issues with meticulousness, seriousness and transparency, ICANA reported.
“Such discussions in Majlis are proof of the high position of democracy [in Iran] and show the [three] branches [of government] are independent from each other,” the speaker said.
However, Larijani said, the lawmakers showed utmost cooperation with the new administration during the debates, which he hoped would prove ‘fruitful and effective’ for the new Cabinet.
The parliamentarians would like to see the new Cabinet begin work as soon as possible, said the speaker.
India Hopeful About Better Ties
Indian Ambassador to Iran D.P Srivastava expressed hope that relations between Tehran and New Delhi will further strengthen during President Hassan Rohani’s tenure.
Srivastava said that he is confident that Tehran-New Delhi cooperation would be further promoted during the term of President Rohani, Fars News Agency reported on Thursday.
Iran and India which have deep historical and cultural relations are now seeking to further expand political and economic ties.
India, the world’s fourth-largest petroleum consumer, is Iran’s second largest oil customer after China and purchases around $12bln worth of Iranian crude every year, about 12 percent of its consumption.
Elsewhere, Srivastava stressed that the Iranian people’s high turnout in the presidential election indicated public support for efforts by the Iranian authorities.
Egyptian Army Urged...
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“The continuation of this deplorable situation in Egypt has rung the alarm bells that it will have no result other than weaken Egypt and the power of Muslim nations,” the statement read.
The Iranian legislators also called on Egyptian political, social and religious figures to intervene to stop the bloodshed in the country, and resolve their internal differences within themselves and without dependence on outsiders.
A senior lawmaker has condemned the mass killing of Egyptian protesters by the security forces, insisting that the current state of affairs in the African country only serves the US and Israeli interests.
Chairman of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi expressed concern over the possibility of civil war between the interim government and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as it can lead to chaos which ‘would not be tolerated by the world’.
Deadly Crackdown Unacceptable
Iranian deputy foreign minister for Arab-African affairs has slammed the deadly clampdown on Egyptian protesters as ‘unacceptable’. Reacting to the latest developments in Egypt, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Thursday, “The massacre and widespread crackdown in Egypt is unacceptable.”
He added, “The Islamic Republic of Iran supports the immediate restoration of democracy and national dialogue in this country.”
The Iranian diplomat further noted that enemies of Egypt seek to ignite a civil war in the Arab country, saying, “The Egyptian army should remain strong against the Zionist regime [of Israel].” Amir-Abdollahian rejected any foreign interference in Egypt’s internal affairs, saying this runs counter to the goals of the country’s revolution.
Admirals on Board!
From Page 1
The reason for appointing them was not due qualification but due to loyalty--something that created a mess in management and in the couple of previous years the need for experienced managers became evident.
At the beginning of the revolution in Iran, as in many other countries, and due to lack of loyal experienced managers, the country faced the same problem, but at that time it was justified particularly since a war was running and the best available managerial forces were fighting in the front lines to save the country. Now that three decades have passed since the revolution, this is no longer justified. Looking at the background of the new government, you can see that most of those selected by Rohani are those who managed to resolve the problems Iran encountered after war with Iraq.
3 - President Rohani intended to form a coalition government since he wanted all social and political strata of the society to help him. This was because the parliament which had to vote on his ministers was almost completely on the opposite side.
4 - Most of the parliament members showed that they got the message of the voters and started changing their extremist (right or left) views to a more moderate attitude which the country is now in need of, this in itself was a victory for president Rohani too. By presenting this Cabinet, Rohani proved that he was able to bring all political views to agree on a moderate line which is Iran’s new political strategy. Parliament members showed that most political sides in Iran support peoples’ demand and of course Rohani’s new strategy.
5 - Iran is confronting the most brutal enmity and sanctions ever faced by any country in history. This is being compared by many analysts to a political and economic tsunami.
The only way Iran can come out of this situation is with a fleet of ministries led by experienced Admirals each of whom should steer the ship out of the storm one by one and later help others. Only through close cooperation and coordination among various groups, Iran can come out of the tsunami.
6 - Now that the new government has started its work, we can say that an uphill task lies ahead. President Rohani now has to overcome many obstacles and meet great expectations within a short time. Maybe that is why he is moving extremely fast without wasting a moment. He has to tackle two main frontiers in parallel: first the international affairs and second the economic issues.
As for the economic issues, maybe the sanctions provide the best chance for the Iranian economy to move towards production and non-oil exports which is the Rohani administration’s target. The appointment of Dr. Mohammad Nahavandian, who was previously the head of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines, to head the Presidential Office shows that. But the amount of pressure people can handle is also important.
Rohani is lucky since, on the one hand, he has the support of the people, while on the other, the people are also blaming the US and the West for their miseries. Some also believe that mismanagement could be behind the economic problems.
Rohani is heading the most experienced economical team ever. So, with this administration and public support, Rohani stands a great chance and of course face high expectations to improve the economy. But we should not undermine international issues. Rohani is also heading the best foreign policy team ever. By appointing Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi (former foreign minister and a veteran diplomat) as his deputy and head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Rohani proved that he has great capabilities to make use of all the best available. Now with Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Foreign Ministry and Salehi at the AEOI, both can work together for a solution to Iran’s discussions with western countries on nuclear issues.
Though Iran has good intentions to solve the political differences with other countries, the intentions of the other side are also important--it is a two way road where both sides have to meet on an intersection. As Rohani said in his interviews and the parliamentary approval for his ministers (particularly the high vote of confidence for Dr. Zarif), Iran is now ready for the talks which still require tangible actions from the other side.
So is the other side also ready?
FM, OIC Chief Discuss Egypt
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in telephone conversation with Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu on Friday called for an end to deadly violence in Egypt.