IRGC Brig. Gen. Rostam Qasemi
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today nominated IRGC Brig. Gen. Rostam Qasemi to head the strategic oil ministry. Gen. Qasemi is now the commander of Khatam al-Anbiya base, the massive business and industrial arm of IRGC. Qasemi as well as the Khatam al-Anbiya are on sanctions lists for alleged work on the country’s nuclear and missile development.
Ahmadinejad also nominated Mehdi Qazanfari as the minister of Industry, Mines and Commerce; Abdolreza Sheikholeslami as the minister of Labor and Social Welfare and Mohammad Abbasi as the minister of Sports.
The oil ministry has been run by the acting minister Mohammad Aliabadi since May after Ahmadinejad unsuccessfully attempted to take personal charge of the ministry, sparking a political showdown with Majlis.
Majlis has scheduled votes of confidence on the four new ministers for Wednesday 3 August. If confirmed, the appointments put to an end months of power struggle between Ahmadinejad and Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani on the merger of different departments and creation of new ministries as well as the ministers heading newly-enlarged departments.
Gen. Qasemi’s nomination is a clear manifestation of the growing influence of IRGC on all aspects of the Iranian life. The force, by far the most important branch of the military, also controls major sectors of the Iranian economy, from imports to construction to the oil industry. Its current and former general officers hold key political posts in the government. By combining military, business and political powers, the IRGC has become the country’s undisputed powerhouse. Its business branch, however, has given the IRGC a reputation of a corrupt mafia-type organization.
File Photo: Fars News Agency