Leaders of Iran

Friday, December 03, 2004


By Safa Haeri with reports from Tehran and agencies

PARIS Aug. 14 (IPS) President Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami continued to be battered by all sides, including the reformists, for the ministers he proposed to the Majles on Sunday as his new ministers.

Out of the twenty, 16, including all "heavy ones", as well as those known generally as the "leader’s ministers" retained their jobs and among the four new faces -- as one had changed portfolio only --, the proposed Economy and Finance minister was the one who get most of the opposition.

Almost all MMs (Members of the Majles) questioned by the press on their views about the Hojjatolpresident’s proposed new cabinet were unanimous in expressing surprise, shock, dismay and anger and all forecast that between five to seven suggested ministers would not be approved.

"Speculation is rife on whether Khatami's newly appointed cabinet members would win approval by parliament notwithstanding the fact that it is controlled by deputies sympathetic to him. The hitch could be in failed expectations he would effect greater changes", said the official news agency IRNA that supports the President.

MMs both reformists and conservatives in the 290-seat House while expressing their "dissatisfaction" about the cabinet reshuffle, singled out several former ministers, including those of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Oil, Education and Islamic Guidance in the one hand and considered the first timers as "politically inexperienced."

"Reformist lawmakers maintain that Mr. Khatami, who was re-elected last June by another landslide vote was, under pressure to name a cabinet that would give all political factions equal representation", IRNA said.

"We have earlier told the president that Majles may not give the vote of confidence to certain ministers he had in mind, but he nonetheless appointed them due to pressure", Mr. Ali Na’imipoor, the Head of the reformist fraction was quoted as saying by the independent Iranian Student News Agency ISNA.

"We expected to see more new faces in the cabinet and hoped certain incumbent ministers would be replaced with new ones", he said.

Another reformist deputy, Ali-Mohammad Namazi, told the agency: "The parliamentarians expected a major change and inclusion of more experienced people."

"Some of the (appointed) ministers do not even have a professional record in the ministries since after the (1979 Islamic) Revolution. How can we expect them to meet the people's needs?" he asked.

The new appointees, namely Tahmasb Mazaheri, Masoud Pezeshkian, Ahmad Khorram, Safdar Hoseini and Ali Soufi are to go respectively to Finance and Economy, Health, Roads and Transportation, Labour and Social Affairs and Cooperatives while the Cooperatives Minister Morteza Haji is to move to the Eeducation.

"Why should a road and construction engineer be named as the head of an important ministry like Economy and Finance at a time that our economy needs highly educated and experienced men or an agriculture expert deal with sensitive problems as labour and social affairs or putting an engineer on physics as Cco-operative Minister? observed Mr. Mohammad Heydari of the monthly "Gozaresh"

The 47 years-old Mr. Tahmasb Mazaheri, considered for the Economy Minister, is a former Khatami economic advisor, educated in Scotland and served as Deputy Prime Minister with Mr. Mir Hoseyn Mousavi, Iran’s War time Prime Minister.

The conservative daily "Abrar" quoted reformist MM Nasser Qavami as saying only eight ministers would most probably receive the confidence vote.

"I think that the proposed cabinet is not capable," he said, adding, "It seems certain ministers imagine themselves to have a perpetual claim to certain ministries."

Another criticism raised by lawmakers is that Khatami has retained ministers in his current cabinet despite their having been involved in various political and managerial irregularities, as Oil, Foreign Affairs, Defence, Intelligence, Interior and Islamic Guidance ministers have all kept their offices.

"Khatami could have brought in new faces to satisfy the popular demand for more overt moves toward reform. But Such changes and, more importantly, the will to stand behind them needs determination that Khatami does not have", commented Mr. Mohammad Javad Mozzafar, a reformist political analyst was quoted by IRNA as saying.

But Mr. Mohammad Tarraqi of the radical Islamic Coalition League thinks Mr. Khatami has deliberately named most of the controversial ministers in order to get rid of them via the Majles.

"At least one third of the proposed ministers are not in the places they should be", he told IRNA, noting that the new cabinet, as named by Mr. Khatami, would not be able to meet neither of the people’s demand or big economic and political challenges looming over the nation.

"I believe that if they succeeded in obtaining vote of confidence from Majles, they could not conduct the responsibility entrusted on them properly so that we will not get positive result at the end of the four-year term", said Hojjatoleslam Rasool Montajabnia, a spokesman for the Majma’e Rowhanioun Mobarez (MRM), or the Militant Clergymen’s Association, an offshoot of the larger Combatant Clergymen’s Association.

"But, now, for whatever reason, the president has placed them in the new list, I expect the members of Majles to exercise maximum attention and not to give vote of confidence to at least six candidates", he added, citing the Oil, Defence and Foreign Ministers amongst those who would fail to get approval.

"We are aware of the pressures on Khatami, but parliament is still determined to stick to its reforms programme and secure the people's demands for change", Mrs Elahe Koula’i, a reformist MM told Reuters.

Parliament's energy committee was also against the reappointment of Oil Minister Bizhan Namdar-Zanganeh, who has been accused of corruption by reformers and conservatives alike.

"The committee does not approve of (Zanganeh) and we have informed the president of this," MM Mohammad Rashidian was quoted byl IRNA as saying.

"It's good that (Khatami) didn't make more changes, because we believe it would have made the cabinet even weaker," MM Hossein Mar’ashi of the centrist Servants of Reconstruction told Reuters.

"Relations had more of a role in some of the appointments than meritocracy", said Hoseinali Qasemzadeh, a conservative deputy, referring to the proposed Economy Minister.

Ten members of the proposed cabinet are from the pro-Khatami Islamic Iran Participation Party (IIPP). They are Morteza Haji, Mas’ood Pezeshkian, Tahmasb Mazaheri, Ahmad Mo’tamedi, Mahmood Hojjati, Safdar Hosseini, Ali Soufi, Mostafa Mo’in, Habibollah Bitaraf and Ahmad Khorram.

Executives of Construction Party (ECP) hold three seats in the cabinet with Mr. Es’haq Jahangiri, Ali Abdolalizadeh and Bizhan Namdar-Zangeneh and the rest, except for the Interior Minister who is affiliated to the MRM that support the President, Kamal Kharrazi, Ali Shamkhani, Hojjatoleslam Ali Younesi are nominated by the leader and the rest of the nominees are independent, with Mohammad Shariatmadari and Hojjatoleslam Esma’il Shoushtari believed to follow IIPP policies.

Newspapers close to both of Iran's political factions also criticised the president's cabinet list.

"A vote of confidence cannot be foreseen," said the reformist newspaper, "Hayat No" (New Life).

"The (proposed) cabinet list has shocked MMs," ran the headline in the conservative "Resalat" newspaper.

"The changes were insufficient," the reformist daily "Mellat" (People) quoted MM Jamileh Kadivar, the wife of former Guidance Minister Ata’ollah Mohajerani, as saying. "Popular demand is for more (change) than this."

It is heard that President Mohammad Khatami did not have a personal talk with the proposed nominees and his brother Ali Khatami has discussed with the would-be minister on his behalf.

"The fact that Khatami did not have a personal meeting with the candidates weakens the position of ministers in the cabinet and with such behaviour, powerful candidates will not accept to serve as a minister", observed the English language "Tehran Times".

Both Mr. Heydari the journalist and Mr. Qasem Sho’leh Sa’di, a former deputy from Shiraz and jurist said that the power structure of the present Iranian system does not allow for radical changes.

"Importing strong minded, experienced, well-educated and experienced men into the cabinet would immediately faces sensitivities from various factions and personalities, therefore, one has to make the minimum possible of changes", Mr. Sho’leh Sa’di said, referring to the reshuffled cabinet.

Like Professor Fereydoon Khavand, a Paris-based economist, the former lawmaker also believes that the Parliament is "far ahead" of the President when coming to implement the reforms promised by Mr. Khatami.

However, Mr. Khavand has the impression that "more and more", Mr. Khatami look to best ways to compromise with Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i in order to avoid complications from hard line conservatives.

Expecting divisions, if not outright schism among the reformists and expressing "serious concern" over the future of the President, Mr. Sho’leh Sa’di joined the radical daily "Keyhan" which, in a recent commentary, had raised the possibility of seeing Mr. Khatami ending his term as did his predecessor, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani.

"When elected for the first time, Mr. Hashemi (Rafsanjani) was at the zenith of his popularity. Eight years after, he was in the bottom of trash bin, not even able to get a seat at the Majles, preferring resigning that suffer more humiliation. Now, it seems that Mr. Khatami is going exactly the same road, unfortunately", he commented for the Persian service of Radio France Internationale. ENDS KHATAMI NEW CABINET 14801

Biography of Mohammad Shariatmadari, Minister of Commerce

: "Biography of Mohammad Shariatmadari, Minister of Commerce cv

Name and surname : Mohammad Shariatmadari
Date of birth: 1960
Place of birth : Tehran
Marital status: Married
Education: MBA
Field of study: commercial management

Before 23. May 1997 and being in charge of this position ( minister of Commerce) , in 1989 he has held these responsibilities: Acting Minister ship, Executive Deputy and local commerce under secretary of former ministry of commerce. He is the only minister that since the ministry of commerce establishment , this minister ship have been under the charge of him. He is married, having 4 children. Before the victory of Islamic Republic of IRAN, he entered the university in the field of Electronics.

After the victory of Islamic Republic of IRAN , and after 3 years of study in this field, he changed his field of study for some country necessities and started economic studies and received MBA in commercial management concentrated on International Marketing.

He is one of the activists in economics and politics and during the president ship of President Khatami in government different economical and political committees and commissions or share with the other forces, he has had effective and essential role and in spite of having burdensome duty of ministry of commerce especially in reform-period , he has taken an active part in political current of events , having effective efforts in solving the problems and complexities of our country."

Google Groups: Mohsen Noorbakhsh enacts Economic Reforms 02/93

Google Search: Mohsen Noorbakhsh: " ATHENS, Greece (UPI) -- Iran announced Monday a series of measures
aimed at reforming the economy and encouraging foreign investment, the
official Islamic Republic News Agency said.
Iranian Economy and Finance Minister Mohsen Noorbakhsh released
details of the new measures at a news conference in Tehran. They are to
be introduced as of March 21, the Iranian New Year, he said.
An IRNA dispatch monitored in Athens said the new measures included a
parity rate for the Iranian rial against the U.S. dollar.
Noorbakhsh said the Central Bank of Iran would begin selling foreign
exchange at the free market rate to the public as of March 21, which
also marks the beginning of the Iranian fiscal year.
Earlier reports said private sector investment in Iran have been
virtually halted over the past six months, as businessmen awaited the
official announcement of reform measures, designed to take Iran out of
its current economic stagnation.
The economy minister told reporters the government of President Akbar
Hashemi Rafsanjani would release to private buyers a total of $2.5
billion it expected to earn from oil revenues in the 1993-94 fiscal
He expressed hope this would help bring the free market exchange rate
down to 1,000 rials to the U.S. dollar.
The dollar currently sells on the Iranian free market at about 1,500
rials. The ``official'' rate has been pegged at 70 rials to the dollar
since the 1979 revolution that toppled the late shah, even though the
value of the rial has steadily tumbled in the interim.
Iran's ruling clerics used the ``official'' exchange rate to disguise
heavy subsidies on certain essential goods and state-owned industries.
Regional analysts said the subsidies contributed to the country's
current economic straits.
Noorbakhsh said Iran was in debt to the tune of $30 billion as of
March 21, 1992, but has since repaid $5 billion.
He said the government believed the economic reforms being introduced
March 21 would encourage foreign investments in development projects.
The alternative would have been to wait until Iran had enough
revenues from its own resources to finance its economic development
projects, ``and in the meantime continue to import products that might
otherwise be produced by these projects,'' he said.
Encouraging foreign investment ``sounds more logical and promising,''
and would save time in getting on with the country's development, he
Joint-venture partners were expected mainly from Germany, Japan,
Italy and France, and Iran would borrow money from abroad for its
development projects at interest rates prevailing on the world market,
Noorbakhsh said.
But foreign ownership in Iranian industries would be limited to a
ceiling of 49 percent, he said.
Iranian private investors would also be offered shares in state
industries, he said. They would include ``real or corporate bodies that
can purchase shares without restrictions,'' the minister said.
Rafsanjani's hard-line opponents, who controlled the economy and
built it up along communist lines between 1980 and 1989, have criticized
the economic reforms since they were first talked about less than one
year ago.
Between April and June last year, a series of riots broke out in
several cities, when demonstrators opposed some earlier attempted
The riots reportedly shook Rafsanjani's government, which announced
earlier this year that indirect subsidies for imported food, medicines
and petroleum products would continue after the single parity rate for
the dollar has been introduced.
Last month, the Majlis or Parliament approved the import of these
items with foreign exchange made available to state companies at the old
``official'' rate of 70 rials to the dollar.

"Copyright 1993 by "

Google Search: Majlis rejected Mohsen Noorbakhsh for economy and finance minister 1993

Google Search: Mohsen Noorbakhsh: "ATHENS (UPI) -- The Iranian Parliament Monday rejected President Akbar
Hashemi Rafsanjani's nominee for economy and finance minister, but
approved 22 other members of his Cabinet, Tehran radio said.
The Majlis, or Parliament, which began examining Rafsanjani's Cabinet
nominees Sunday, voted separately on each appointee in the 23-member
It rejected Mohsen Noorbakhsh, whom Rafsanjani nominated as his
finance and economy minister despite criticism that Noorbakhsh's
performance during the president's first term in office was less than
Hours after the Majlis vote, Rafsanjani announced the appointment of
Noorbakhsh as vice president for economic affairs, ``because of your
excellency's valuable experience...and to continue the principles and
policies of the five-year development plan.''
The other 22 members of the Cabinet received Majlis approval, the
state radio monitored in Athens said.
Rafsanjani was present in the Parliament during the debate on his
Cabinet and examination of the nominees for the 23 portfolios. The
president was required to seek a vote of confidence for his Cabinet
following his re-election June 11 for a second four-year term.
Self-exiled opponents of Iran's clerical rulers said the Majlis's
rejection of Noorbakhsh as economy minister was a slap in the face for
The Majlis's rejection of Noorbakhsh reflected the legislature's
reaction to the protest vote against Rafsanjani himself in the
presidential election, when he received 63 percent of the popular vote,
down some 30 percentage points from the 1989 poll.
Ahmed Tavakoli, a hard-line candidate, emerged as Rafsanjani's main
rival in the election, garnering some 24 percent of the popular vote
despite minimal campaigning.
Voters in ballot-box queues told foreign reporters allowed into Iran
during the election they would vote against Rafsanjani because he failed
to keep his 1989 campaign promises to improve the economy.
Rafsanjani launched his economic reform program only months before
the June election, too late to show positive results before he was due
to face the electorate.
Noorbakhsh was widely expected to become the scapegoat for the
president's failure, and Western analysts expressed surprise that his
name reappeared on the Cabinet list that Rafsanjani presented on Aug. 8
to the Majlis for approval.
The Cabinet contained seven new faces in posts not considered of key
importance. Rafsanjani, however, won a victory of sorts in the Majlis by
retaining Ali Akbar Velayati as his foreign minister and Gholamreza
Aqazadeh as oil minister."

Mohsen Noorbakhsh called to court about Mohsen Noorbakhsh

REFORMISTS MUST FIGHT THE CONSERVATIVES OR LEAVE POLITICAL SCENE: "According to "Keyhan" newspaper, a mouthpiece of Ayatollah Khameneh’i edited by Mr. Hoseyn Shari’atmadar, a high-ranking official of the Intelligence Ministry specialising in confessing intellectual dissidents, Mr. Bizhan Namdar-Zanganeh, Mr. Es,haq Janhangiri and Mr. Mohsen Noorbakhsh, respectively ministers of Oil, Mines and Industries and General Director of the Central Bank are also to appear in court, in relation with an oil deal corruption case involving Mr. Behzad Nabavi, an influential reformist MM and one of the IRMO’s top leader.

All three have denied the paper’s allegation, but considering Mr. Shari’atmadari’s position and his close connections with both the leader and the Judiciary, one might bet that they are in the cyclone’s eye."



TEHRAN 23 Mar. (IPS) Mohsen Noorbakhsh, 59, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran died of heart attack in the early hours of Sunday, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

His doctor told IRNA that Noorbakhsh felt heart pain at 02:00 Sunday and was rushed to hospital in Chaloos, on the Caspian Sea, where the official is thought to have been spending the New Iranian Year holiday.

"Despite all the efforts made by the hospital staff, the treatment did not prove effective and Noorbakhsh passed away before 04:00 and his body was transferred to Tehran", Dr. Homayoon Mehran said, explaining that Mr. Noorbakhsh suffered from cardiac rheumatism since his childhood and went through an operation on his heart 18 years ago outside the country.

Both Ayatollah Khameneh'i, the leader of the Islamic Republic and President Mohammad Khatami, in a condolence message, praised Noorbakhsh as a "very sincere, intelligent and capable serviceman" and described his death as a "great loss".

The Council of Ministers said Noorbakhsh played a "key role in putting shape into the monetary policies of the country by unifying the Iranian currency and establishing a reserve fund (for the surplus oil revenues) as well as (helping with the) eye-catching rise of the Central Bank's reserves".

Noorbakhsh, who held a Ph.D in economics from California State University, was a key architect of the Iranian economy after the destructive Iraqi imposed-war of 1980-1988. He also advocated a liberal economy.

He first came into office shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution as the deputy Finance Minister until 1981 after his bid for Finance Minister was rejected by then president Abolhassan Banisadr who defected later.

Noorbakhsh was later appointed as the governor of the CBI until 1986 during the government of then Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Moussavi.

In 1988, Noorbakhsh was elected as a deputy to Majles from Tehran before becoming Finance Minister in 1994 under the presidency of the former president Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, keeping the post until 1995.

After being refused confidence by the Majles, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani appointed him as his economic right hand and his deputy, before being again appointed as the Governor of the Central Bank, a post he kept after the victory of Mr. Khatami in 1997 until his death and despite bitter dispute with the current Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Tahmasb Mazaheri. ENDS MOHSEN NOORBAKHSH DIED 23303"