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Iran Hardliner Media Launch Attack On Oil Minister For Hiring Outgoing Lawmakers

Bijan Namdar Zanganeh - Iranian Oil Minister in parliament. Undated. FILE PHOTO
Bijan Namdar Zanganeh - Iranian Oil Minister in parliament. Undated. FILE PHOTO

Iran's hardliner media have launched an orchestrated attack on Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh for employing lawmakers who have not made it to the next parliament, allegedly to show new lawmakers that supporting his ministry can have personal benefits for them in the future.

Javan newspaper which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard on Monday alleged that a number of current lawmakers have now been offered employment in the oil ministry as a reward for supporting Zanganeh in the parliament.

Many members of parliament were employed in government bureaucracy before getting elected and those who lose their seats in parliamentary elections often go back to government jobs. They are considered regime insiders and rotate between different positions.

Fars and Tasnim, two news agencies that have close ties with the Revolutionary Guard, have published similar reports and commentaries in recent days and made similar allegations.

In an unattributed commentary on May 9, Fars News Agency alleged that three outgoing lawmakers – who all belong to the reformist camp – will be joining the Oil Ministry. Fars also alleged that the reason for the great interest in joining parliament's Energy Committee for lawmakers is the prospect of future employment in the Oil Ministry and the high salaries paid by the ministry and its affiliated organizations in comparison with other government bureaucracies.

Officials of the presidential administration claim that the allegations made by hardliners are politically motivated and not true. On Monday Ali Rabiei, Spokesman of the administration, said government organizations are not authorized to hire former lawmakers and only those who were in the employment of the government will be going back to government service.

Rabiei also claimed that administration bodies are under pressure to hire outgoing lawmakers but the administration has banned any lobbying on behalf of former lawmakers. Rabiei also alleged that previous administrations had extensively hired unqualified former lawmakers as a measure to gain their support in the future if they were elected again.

The Oil Ministry also refuted hardliner media's claims. Kasra Nouri, Head of Oil Ministry's Public Relations Department, on Tuesday said the hardliner media had not made a new discovery. "Those who have been named in the media have been in the employment of the Oil Ministry for a long time. Some of them had been government employees and were transferred from one organization to another. This is not unprecedented or odd", he added.

On Wednesday Aftab-e Yazd, a reformist newspaper, defended Zanganeh and said he is targeted by hardliners because he is very experienced and knows how "to export Iran's oil despite multi-layered U.S. sanctions".

The reformist newspaper's commentary claimed that the reformist oil minister has been successful in maintaining some oil exports despite U.S. efforts to bring Iran's those exports to a complete halt as well as having a good record in developing gas and oil fields.

In 2017 hardliners published a list of twenty-four former lawmakers who held positions in the ministry and a sitting lawmaker criticized the Oil Minister in the parliament. At the time the media even alleged that some lawmakers had received salaries from the ministry during their term in the parliament.

Accusations of paying salaries to incumbent lawmakers were never officially investigated or proven. While defending his performance in parliament in 2017 Zanganeh said that offering employment to former lawmakers was not done secretly and he was proud of hiring qualified people.

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    Maryam Sinaiee

    Maryam Sinaiee is a British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National, who contributes to Radio Farda.