Three-way conflict rising among Iranian politics

Three-way conflict rising among Iranian politics

By Dalga Khatinoglu

As pressures on Iran's former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's allies increase, his 1.5-year longed silence is breaking.

In the latest event Iran's Justice Ministry banned a newspaper belongs to Ahmadinejad's allies on Feb.2. However, a day after the court's verdict, Homa daily newspaper released a new version on Feb.3 and a copy of the court's verdict was published on its first page.

The online version of Homa hasn't updated on Feb. 4 yet, but banning this media came a day after Ahmadinejad launched a new portal on Feb.1.

In a headline of Homa's latest version covering Ahmadinejad's statement addressed to his successor Hassan Rouhani, Ahmadinejad asks, "Why have you come to power while you don't dare to stand against the U.S.?"

The conflict between Ahmadinejad's close allies and Rouhani's government is one matter and growing confrontation with Iranian hardliners another.

On Jan. 21, Ahmadinejad's vice-president Mohammad Reza Rahimi was sentenced to prison and fined. Rahimi served as vice-president from September 2009 to August 2013 during the administration of Ahmadinejad and was charged in several fraud cases.

Some Iranian media closely reflecting hardliners views has demanded jailing Ahmadinejad because of mismanagement and cases tens of billion of rials embezzled during his administration.

The current government also claims that Ahmadinejad's and its cabinet misused their power.

Vice-president Eshaq Jahangiri said Feb.2 that the biggest fraud of the current century took place during Ahmadinejad's term in office.

A symbolic figure

Calling the frauds that happened during Ahmadinejad term as "the biggest cases of current century" implies a meaning more than an argument based on statistics.

Iran's Islamic regime, which came on power in 1979, has been charging the former regime (Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, his father Shah Reza Pahlavi) of fraud, corruption, and committing financial crimes that "led to the Islamic Revolution".

Jahangiri's statement might implies that the situation during Ahmadinejad was worse than the 52 year rule of Shah and his father.

Iran's oil export revenues between 2005 and 2012 equal 50 percent of Iran's total oil revenues during the last 100 years. Iran exported about $700 billion worth of crude oil during Ahmadinejad's office, but when he handed over the government to Rouhani in mid-2013, the inflation rate was about 35 percent, the GDP had shrunk by 6.9 percent year-to-year and the oil export volume had decreased 60 percent compared to 2011.

Hardliners battle

Arresting Ahmadinejad's allies and putting a ban on their media indicates that hardliners who dominate the parliament and Judiciary System and were at onetime Ahmadinejad's major supporters can no longer bear him.

The battle is not only with Ahmadinejad, but a moderate president who is backed by reformists and is another Iranian hardliners' target.

Iranian parliament after summoning the economic minister Ali Tayyebnia for questioning, gave its 10th "yellow card" to Rouhani's ministers on Feb.3. This means that 10 of the ministers potentially could face losing their jobs if the parliament summon them again and isn't satisfied by their response to questions.

During Rouhani's presidency, the inflation rate declined to below 18 percent, while the GDP growth reached 3 percent in 2014 after two years consecutive contractions.

Hardliners most often attack Rouhani's government over attempts to find a solution to the nuclear issue with P5+1 and accuse Rouhani of backing down from the country's nuclear achievements.

A new round of parliamentary elections will be held in less than a year and the results might become a milestone in Iran's future.

Edited by CN

Dalga Khatinoglu is an expert on Iran's energy sector, head of Trend Agency's Iran news service.

Follow him on @dalgakhatinoglu

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