The Hassan Rouhani administration took office two years ago and has undoubtedly primarily focused its energy and political clout on the nuclear talks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. But domestically, Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament has been more active than ever in pushing back the administration and targeting its ministers through summoning them to parliament, issuing yellow warning cards and using threats of impeachment.
The front pages of two Iranian newspapers, Ebtekar and Aftab-e Yazd, wrote Aug. 13 about this active parliament in targeting Rouhani’s ministers.
Ebtekar published an article titled “A new season of political impeachments,” which read, “The Rouhani administration has reached the halfway point and already the record for most questions by members of parliament put to ministers has been broken. [Parliament] has asked approximately 2,000 questions of the Cabinet.”
The article said that while questioning ministers is part of the parliament’s function, “many believe that in the last two years another goal was used for this function.” The article states that with the exception of a handful of ministers, ministers “have felt the shadow of impeachment above their heads.” The article's reasons for record number of summons and questions range from personal issues to having an eye on the 2016 parliamentary elections.
Arash Bahmani has written for Al-Monitor about the troubles facing Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati, who Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has reportedly reprimanded. As Alireza Ramezani wrote in Al-Monitor, “As the parliamentary elections approach, conservatives will try to find alternative solutions to drive the administration back and compensate for their loss in the battle over the nuclear deal.”
The newest target has been Alireza Teyebnia, Iran’s minister of economics and finance, who received his third yellow card from parliament Aug. 9, setting into motion the process for his impeachment. The minister, who received the highest number of approval votes during his hearing in August 2013, was summoned to parliament by conservative Iranian member of parliament Mehrdad Bazrpash to answer questions about the increase on taxes of guilds and legislation involving opening lines of credit to Iranian banks.
According to Eghtesad online, the two questions that Teyebnia was summoned for had little to do with his office. Taxes on guilds are set by parliament and Teyebnia’s position only gives him discretion to implement legislation passed by parliament, something Teyebnia explained during the parliament session. Also, the issue of a line of credit to banks has more to do with the Central Bank than the Ministry of Economics and Finance.
Aftab-e Yazd, in an article titled “Teyebnia deserves praise, not the injustice of MPs,” interviewed Ebrahim Nekoo, a member of parliament’s economic committee. While Nekoo defended the right of parliament members to summon ministers, he called Teyebnia’s treatment by parliament members as “unfair.” When asked about the possible impeachment of Teyebnia, Nekoo said, “This type of impeachment is not even logical.” He added, “Given the upcoming parliamentary elections, the possibility of finding a new minister with a better performance than Teyebnia is weak.”
Teyebnia added that given the post-sanctions environment and expectations that the lifting of sanctions will improve Iran’s economic situation, the administration’s economic team is in a sensitive position and must manage this transition. He said, “No one is more proficient in the affairs of the Economics Ministry than Teyebnia.”
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