Iran president’s Cabinet cuts Guard from defense ministry
Tehran, Iran Aug. 9 : After decisively winning re-election almost three months ago, Iran’s president on Tuesday proposed a new Cabinet for his second term that cuts out the hard-line Revolutionary Guard from controlling the Defense Ministry for the first time in nearly 25 years.
However, Hassan Rouhani’s Cabinet for now also fails to include women and his pick for the Justice Ministry is on a European Union sanctions list over human rights abuse allegations.
The Cabinet selection shows Rouhani, a cleric whose stances are moderate compared to others in the Islamic Republic, remains pragmatic about how far he can push his administration that is under the ultimate control of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Rouhani’s Cabinet picks ultimately must be approved by parliament, which is expected to take up the issue next week.
Rouhani’s presidential website offered the list he presented to lawmakers, filling 17 of the 18 positions he’ll have in his Cabinet.
According to the proposal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who negotiated Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that saw sanctions lifted in exchange for limits of Iran’s enrichment of uranium, would remain the country’s top diplomat. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, who oversaw Iran’s rush by into the global energy market following the atomic accord, and Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi also would retain their posts.
Rouhani nominated Iran’s acting defense minister, Gen. Amir Hatami of the Iranian army, to permanently take over the position. That represents a major departure from previous Iranian presidents who have since 1993 appointed members of the Revolutionary Guard to the position.
The Guard, a paramilitary force answering only to Khamenei, controls Iran’s disputed ballistic missile program and regularly has tense encounters with the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf. It has deployed into Iraq as part of the fight against the Islamic State group and into Syria to support embattled President Bashar Assad. It also holds vast economic interests in Iran.
Rouhani, who was sworn in on Saturday, strongly criticized the Guard during his presidential campaign for trying to sabotage the nuclear deal.