Interior Minister and a Story of Dirty Political Money

As last year began to come to an end, Iran’s Interior Minister, Rahmani Fazli mentioned in a meeting with the DEA police that as strong as the cash flow of smugglers in the country is, they become so powerful that they would be able to manipulate politics, “We should note that there is no doubt that once dirty money comes from drug smuggling, it can easily penetrate a country’s politics, elections and power balance, and to stay clear of what is called ‘corruption’, ultimate efforts should be made to pre-emptively break the entrance of such material into the foresaid areas.”

The comments later provoked wide ranges of reactions and that is how the Iranian politician and President Rouhani’s senior adviser, Akbar Torkan called the New Year the year of disclosure. He also stressed the importance of battling dirty money and ruled out silence before such a misconduct.

As revealing facts about the dirty money which could run into the veins of the upcoming parliamentary election soared, Rouhani’s Minister of Justice, Mostafa Pourmohammadi in an interview with the IRIB Channel 2 underlined that there is a greater danger of the eruption of dirty moneys as the focal points of power and wealth are coming close together. And just as expected, as the words were out, colorful reactions started to pour out from every corner.

Those critical of the government asked for a public offering of the documents which could prove what the Interior Minister claimed, and as the pressures increased, whichever media covering the Minister’s speech became targets for polemics and were called “Chain Media Corrupted by Dirty Money.”

The intensified pressures eventually brought the Interior Minister to the Parliament on April 26, 2015 to report what he has up his sleeve. But the Minister acted in contrast and apologized to the MPs for the issue of dirty money and insisted that his words in this regard have been distorted. However, he released a series of statistics about some economic corruptions, including the illegal import of 27 thousand cars in the name of helping the poor; a claim which was later rejected by the head of the aforementioned, Parviz Fattah. Fattah used to be Ahmadinejad’s Minister of Energy. He sarcastically addressed the Minister’s apology stating, “The Minister has habitually apologized for his words which dated back to 2 months ago. Is he going to apologize to me, too, in the Parliament?”

The Minister’s words and his retreat of and from the topic of dirty money have caused different political parties to go critical of him. The Conservatives accuse the government of propagandistic uses of the politics and the Reformists call it a non-strategic back-out of stances before the Conservatives. They, however, do not think of the Minister’s reaction as unexpected, for he shares the same political offshoot as Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Parliament. All in all, given the upcoming parliamentary election and expected intense electoral races, we should await torrents of surprising and startling comments to rise up to the surface.


Iran in Blazing Row between the Congress and the White House

obama-iran-congressThe recent challenge between the White House and the Congress over the letter written and signed by 47 US Republican Senators addressing the notion that every probable nuclear agreement shall remain intact only within the terms of the current administration has brought many to ask which one of these power wings owns more power in the US and whether or not would the White House eventually make a decision alone about the nuclear agreement with Iran.

In accordance with the US constitution, the most supreme institution in this country to call the rules is the Congress. Before that, American lawmakers would more than anything pay attention to the Legislative Power in the country. That’s how the first US government, headed by George Washington, had only three ministers by its side. After the WWII, however, the Executive Power has managed to gain more strength and that has put the Congress as a second priority over time, esp. when it’s talk of foreign policy and international relations.

The Constitution, nonetheless, still dictates that any topic related to foreign deals should be signed by the Senate. Some might beg to differ every now and then, for there are serious disagreements within the bodies of the Executive and Legislative Powers in the US. That is why on the one hand, the Congress emphasizes whatever talked about between the US and other countries, parties, or other legal entities should be confirmed and verified by the Congress. On the other hand, the US government insists that only international agreements be verified by the Congress. The government also believes not just the probable nuclear agreement with Iran, but also not any of other similar cases should be voted to positively. The President’s VP, Joe Biden has also stated that a number of cases such as the ceasefire in Vietnam, the nuclear case of Iran, capturing the US embassy in Iran and the deal with Russia to destroy the chemical weapons of Syria went without the confirmation of the Senate and perhaps the future nuclear deal with Iran is one of the sort.

It should be noted, however, that apart from the polemics between the Powers, what is obvious now is the only solution of annulling the sanctions of the Congress is the Congress itself. In other words, the Congress went through a procedure to place the sanctions which should be reversed all the same.

If a probable agreement between Iran and P5+1 goes under pen, then as a major UN member, the US, too, should tend to it. The last few weeks have seen a polarized debate about a possible nuclear arms agreement with Iran that has sometimes gone from narrow partisanship to strategic infantilism. Both sides of the Iran debate have focused on a few narrow parameters of the overall agreement as distinguished from the real merits and risks of any proposed agreement.

The issue should be debated on its merits, and they should be examined in terms of all the key parameters, not simply a focus on Iran’s current and present capacity for enrichment. These merits also need to be judged in terms of what any arms control agreement can credibly be expected to accomplish.

Such statements are being made while a variety of opinions are finding their ways out. On Friday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki appeared on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports today to address the letter 47 Republican Senators sent to Iranian leaders warning them any deal President Obama makes can be undone by the next president. Psaki said it brings into question whether the Republicans want to see a deal or “whether they want to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

Considering what is happening in the US, we should wait and see what the aftermath of the polemics between various power wings in this country can be and where the outcomes would be driven to. According to the information released, the talks between Iran and P5+1 have reached a final point now, but there are various debates on how to lift off the sanctions to the full and also the final mechanism which can help the two sides overcome the remaining obstacles. And only when the marathon comes to an end, the fruit of the talks would come out.


Who Does Rouhani Invite to Hell Party?

Over the past few days, Iran’s Rouhani had been flying off the handle hence diverting his critics and their words to the burning gates of hell. Rouhani’s oddly adopted tone sounded so iridescent that he could surprise his opponents or even his proponents with a political shocker, therefore injecting Iran’s politics with a serum of adrenaline. Although the President sought to narrow down his backtalk firestorms to smaller targets who are constantly setting up bumpers in the way of the Government, his recent fireballs of words did not really serve his purpose.

President Rouhani’s remarks against west-phobic critics were made just when the Diplomat Sheikh’s proponents are still sunk in joy for his victory in the Presidential election. Perhaps that works enough for a reason to let Rouhani believe he now resides dominantly enough in his driving seat that he can fear no more, rule the roost, and take the wheels of the country in high gear.

Rouhani well knows that his time for bringing the nuclear talks to fruition is rather ticking away and should he take a few bullets from his Conservative critics, not only can he not reach any tangible triumph, but his trophy room of his political achievements thus far will be smashed by a slammer of failure.

Nevertheless, Rouhani inherited an economy which had nearly been shattered to pieces, for it was, largely import-dependent due to its sole reliance on oil revenues, and once the sanctions were thrown to the face of the country, it transmogrified into a gnarled ivy, so hard to begin with. Under such circumstances, Rouhani’s eco-team is making every effort and has come to grips with the country’s rebellious inflation to afford to proceed with its anti-inflation measures. The Government, however, counts very much on the success of its diplomacy, since that is the only way it can see its economic approach come true, and the eco-team has learned it quite right that the happy ending of talks can open a new window thereat. The Conservatives, on the other hand, clearly know it for a fact that Rouhani’s success shall be their loss in the upcoming parliamentary election, which has always relied on academic environments for votes to be flown into its ballot boxes.

Now, the Conservatives have planned to resort to polemics and impeachments to target the Minister of Science so as for depriving the proponents of the Government of their vote portions turning the current vibrant academic environment to a bleak doom. In response to the impeachment plan offered by the Conservatives, the pro-Governments have not gone remiss and commenced on shedding light on the unauthorized scholarships unlawfully granted to the MPs’ relatives.

Rouhani’s most recent comments show his understanding of the equation that if he backs out from voicing society’s viewpoints, it will be a grave loss. Therefore, he has taken a lead foot and will retort as recklessly as never witnessed.


Sex Segregation; a New Gambit by Tehran’s Governor

Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Tehran’s Governor, has received diversified, sometimes colorful, reactions from various social levels to how he managed to think up an odd organizational administrative pattern: sex segregation; a plan which, on the surface, claims to defend the women’s organizational rights, but pursues premeditated political intents deep within. Ghalibaf’s approach has gone so unjustifiable that Rouhani’s Minister of Labor, Ali Rabi’ei challenges in his note the claim that “sex segregation approach” of Tehran’s governor wears the cape of “religious fervor” reminding, contrastively, “I believe ‘religious fervor’ equals a woman not sleeping in poverty and hunger if not anything else.”

Implemented in the name of “religious fervor”, “sex segregation approach”, however, succeeded in winning a majority of Conservatives’ votes, nearly 200 MPs. Later, Ghablibaf, won praise for his brave acts of separating men and women at work.

To achieve a more analytic view into such approach, we should raise the following questions:

“In a mother city, like Tehran, based on which study or research did such a plan gain enough strength to march on its feet? What study has implied that putting men and women separate can boost their efficiency at work? Was there an opinion poll held among the staff of the municipality in which women were the majority?”

The answer to the aforementioned questions can barely be positive or approving. In fact, not only has Tehran’s municipality not conducted any form of the formerly claimed field studies, but also neither of the proponents of sex segregation has. To be perfectly fair, the necessity of sex segregation seems to seldom gear toward any social orientations and realities.

Perhaps the sole reason why Ghalibaf exercised his controversial plan relates to politics, for he lost the Presidential election of 2013 to Hassan Rouhani, while the Conservatives had an upper hand in terms of voting population, hence pulling his weight to attract a focalized majority thereof.

Unfortunately, where Ghalibaf failed in the process of drawing his plan was the bitter fact that he believes the people do not comprehend what his motives, objectives and intentions really are, therefore approving of his acts viewing them as religious fervor. Were Tehran’s governor to conduct a scientific survey, he would understand that even the most traditionalist, religious walks of the society do not believe in any good will or honesty behind his moves.

In closing the decryption process, one can find Ghalibaf’s “religious fervor” a new gambit to make his way back to the upcoming election. He spares no effort to bring the Conservative population, now scattered, back to ballot boxes, whereas the Conservatives’ approach toward the recent presidential election proved that no matter how zealously Ghalibaf endeavored to earn their support, even his full-front verbal attacks against the Reformists, they prioritized rather different Conservative figures, such as Saeed Jalili, over him. That is why Ghalibaf brought a new scenario to the political screens to win a gamble of elections, “sex segregation” intended.


Fear Khatami? Who Would Exactly?

KHatamiPicture, voice and word bans are the most recent invasions of privacy 9 members of Iran’s Parliament have brought upon Iran’s former President, Mohammad Khatami, which have, of course, been receiving negative reactions from every angle of the country’s political field. Only one day after the Conservative-orchestrated slogans were chanted, 3 Reformist newspapers printed front pages in mass with Khatami’s portrait on them. But what can be the actual reason? Perhaps a deeper look at Khatami’s popularity among the masses of the society can provide us with more insights into the behavioral patterns the Conservatives normally take to.

Khatami, a Reformist figure who won Iran’s presidency twice; a man with his charismatically smiling facial expression who made every effort along with his cabinet to bring fundamental changes in Iran sociopolitical atmosphere. Back in those days, two key words of “democracy” and “freedom” were regularly stated in Khatami’s words; two linguistic units which led to tidal political waves. Under such circumstances, a group of religious hardliners, called “plainclothesman”, sought to gain control over the country by marring the Reformists’ images and disrupting their gatherings. Those misconducts finally reached a head when the Plainclothesmen orchestrated their attacks at the dormitories of Tehran University on July 9, 1999.

After Ahmadinejad won the office, every Reformist individual went through an isolation phase. Their isolation accumulated until 2009, when it erupted after the reelection of Ahmadinejad leaving a scar on the political atmosphere of Iran. Moreover, Ahmadinejad’s provocative statements as well as the support he gained from hardline groups did really mess up the country even more. Later, in a thorough housecleaning, the opposing Reformists were totally swept away from the country’s policy, and Iran became a well-woven carpet all in one piece for the Conservatives.

Nonetheless, the 2013 Presidential election gave Khatami another chance to ride on the rink carrying Reformists’ flag. On the other hand, Hashemi Rafsanjani began his moves leading the Moderates, and later formed a strategic unity to aid Rouhani to win by a landslide. Now, one year after the term of Rouhani’s Moderate government has begun, a new round of parliamentary elections is getting near, and the Conservatives fear the damage they might undergo as a result of Khatami’s popularity among the people, hence winning no seat. Than can do for a reason they think of just to curb Khatami even more than before. In fact, such psych-outs can be accounted for as political compromises with those who played key roles in the last year’s election, and should the Conservatives succeed, they would take their biggest step in barring Hashemi Rafsanjani in the upcoming elections. Although Hashemi- and Khatami-backed candidates should be verified by the Guardian Council before they can take part in the elections, the very thought of the participation of the Moderates and the Reformists has indeed alarmed the Conservatives.

All said can suffice for a cause to curb Khatami and Rafsanjani from politics in Iran. Whether or not does it finally happen doesn’t seem that likely at all.


What Can the West Really Achieve by Pressing Iran with Sanctions?

96315_704“To those who believe that sanctions brought Iran to negotiating table, I can only say that pressure has been tried for the past 8 years, in fact, for the past 35 years. It did not bring Iranian to need in submission and it will not now, nor in the future.”

Those are Mohammad Javad Zarif’s words, Iran’s FM, in his video which were published in English on YouTube shortly before the initiation of the new round of talks with P5+1 and shot a firearm to embark on the marathon of nuclear negotiations. Zarif put it mildly, but clearly obvious that both parties have some exceptional three weeks the resolve the differences on the way to reaching a full-fledged deal.

Now, the sharing of the foresaid video right after the publication of the articles of Iran and the US FMs has influenced the talks of Vienna 6. That counts for the first time Iran’s FM resorted to the social networks or cyber space to spread his message. Earlier, too, in a video, Zarif had affirmed that “there is a path forward; a constructive path and a progressive move toward maintaining peace; the sole choice is neither capitulation nor confrontation.”

However, the media all over the world have never stopped to think otherwise about the likelihood of the ongoing talks behind the curtains between the two countries of Iran and the US. A number of the international observers are on the belief that both countries have been conducting talks apart from the centrality of nuclear affairs so as to succeed in working out their bilateral differences and finally coming down to an agreement over the matters which have deeper roots than nuclear disputes. Inside the two countries, nonetheless, there are oppositions who seek to put heavier emphasis on such undercover talks leading to atrophy the strength of Rouhani’s and Obama’s governments from the very within.

What Zarif rejects the most in his recent video is a sanction-born approach to talks. Yet, Ahmadinejad’s efforts to instigate the global wrath against Iran cannot be missed anymore here, neither can the crippling sanctions of the west. That the west believes it can keep Iran at the negotiation table obviously shows it does not really know much about the interior trends of Iran, either.

Rouhani’s government and team of negotiators have been bombarded by the heaviest pressures from their Conservative, powerful critics, for they believe should the sanctions drag on, then what is the point in the continuation of the talks? Most of them deem the Geneva Agreement to be incapable of noticeably get the pressures off the people’s shoulders in the country. Under such circumstances, the negotiators of Iran have come to substantiate what really belongs to Iran meaning to win guarantees to preserve Iran’s rights to uranium enrichment. Nevertheless, in the case of not achieving a comprehensive deal and also not managing to ease the sanctions, the negotiators will suffer a sizable torpedo of pressure and criticism inside the country; torpedoes from fierce critics whose words are immensely spread all over the country’s Conservative media.