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Vice-President Comes Under Attack After Revealing Rift In Rouhani Administration


President Hassan Rouhani (R) and his First Vice President Es'hagh Jahangiri, during a campaign rally in Tehran on Sunday May 13, 2017.

Iran's First Vice-President Es'haq Jahangiri has come under fire from both traditional media and social media users after he said on October 21 that he was not consulted about the cabinet reshuffle and the nomination of new ministers by President Hassan Rouhani.

To make a point about his lack of power and influence within the administration, Jahangiri said that he even lacked the authority to hire or fire his own secretary.

"A Superman Who Is Good for Nothing," was the largest headline on the front-page of one Iranian newspaper on Monday with a picture of Jahangiri. Another front-page headline told him "Please Go Home!," and yet another paper exclaimed, "Do You Remember Your Promises, Mr Jahangiri?"

Media commentators on Monday opined that another vice president, Mohamad Baqer Nobakht and Rouhani's Chief of Staff Mahmoud Vaezi had an active part in nominating the new ministers while Jahangiri was effectively left out of the decision-making process.

The nomination of new ministers mark deep rooted differences between Nobakht and Jahangiri. Both of these officials have tried to control Iran's ailing economy by placing their aides and allies in charge, to no avail.

The background and career record of three of the nominees as reported by Iranian media, indicates that Nobakht continues to have the upper hand in the rivalry that has its roots deep in the history of Iran's two major centrist political parties, The Executives of Construction (where Jahangiri comes from) and the Moderation and Development Party, which is Vaezi and Nobakht's power base.

In the meantime, social media were bubbling with criticism of Jahangiri and suggestions that he should resign.

Sohail Jannesari, an active voice on social media tweeted that Jahangiri should either resign or Rouhani should replace him with someone else.

Mohammad Padash, another active user lashed out at Jahangiri, saying "If you did not have authority, you must have had some dignity."

Prominent reformist commentator Abbas Abdi wrote on his Telegram page: "He should have left in the summer of 2017. It is too late now."

Tehran MP Elias Hazrati told Tasnim news agency that the comment was a sign that Jahangiri was going to resign. Later the leader of the Executives of Construction Party, where Jahangiri is a member, ruled out Jahangiri's resignation. However, he added: "I would have resigned if I were him," adding that Jahangiri's absence would be a big loss for the Rouhani administration.

Outspoken reformist commentator Mojtaba Vahedi in a tweet characterized Jahangiri as a "charlatan," adding that Jahangiri is disclosing the hypocrisy of his partners while he is not willing to leave them.

Others on social media have pointed out that Rouhani saw Jahangiri and other reformists as his allies in the two previous rounds of presidential elections, but he no longer needs them as he changed his course and embraced the hardliners who have the upper hand in Iran.

Meanwhile, IRGC-linked news agency Fars quoted hardline figures as having said, "Why Jahangiri is still working with the administration if he feels powerless?"

Jahangiri, who usually supported Rouhani's policies, said in March that he had been "advised to keep silent" about differences within in the government, but warned "I can always restart the engine when I deem it necessary."

It appears that with his latest remarks, Jahangiri who has always been a target for attacks by Iran's hardliners because of his support for Rouhani, has made himself new enemies within the camp he belongs to.

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