Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today dismissed ministers of Oil, Commerce, and Social Welfare as the first step to merge their respective departments with ministries of Energy, Industries and Mines, and Labor [president.ir, 14 May].
Ahmadinejad will apparently nominate the current ministers of Energy, Industries and Mines, and Labor to head the enlarged departments, otherwise they would have been dismissed as well. Yesterday, Ahmadinejad had agreed with the Speaker of Majlis, Ali Larijani, to send a bill to the parliament for approval of the mergers and to nominate new ministers to head the enlarged departments. Today’s move to dismiss the three ministers prior to parliamentary approval of the mergers was unexpected.
[UPDATE: In the first reaction to Ahmadinejad’s dismissal of the three ministers, Ahmad Tavakoli, the influential member of Majlis, bitterly criticized Ahmadinejad for his hurried move and said the dismissals send a message of political “instability” in the Islamic Republic. Tavakoli suggested that the problems between these three ministers and “that famous, deviationist and problematic character” (read Mashaie) were the cause of their dismissal.]
Blogger's Note: These dismissals are a clear challenge to Majlis's (and Larijani's) authority. Based on the agreement struck on Friday between Ahmadinejad and Larijani, in the presence of Khamenei, Ahmadinejad was to send a bill to the parliament asking its approval for the mergers. Only then would it have made sense to dump the three ministers and nominate the remaining three to head the enlarged departments. By firing these three ministers now, he is sending a message that the approval of the merger bill is inconsequential, and he's practically going ahead with the process with or without the approval of Majlis.