Rumors of Deputy Interior Minister's Dismissal
Rumors of the imminent dismissal of Deputy Interior Minister commander Afshar are heard at a time when the ninth administration seems to be close to setting a new record, according to which, in the three years since the administration came to power, each year a new deputy has found his way to the tall skyscraper on Fatemi Street. Thus far, the ninth administration has administered every election under a different Deputy Interior Minister, who is, in effect, the chief elections administrator.
News sources close to the administration, including Fars news agency, Reporters' Club and Borna news agency announced on Friday that commander Ali Reza Afshar, the interior ministry's political deputy, has resigned from his post at the ministry and left the ministry. Nevertheless, on Saturday Ali Reza Afshar told the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) that he has not resigned from his post. He also noted that "I had the pleasure to serve in the ninth administration by Mr. Ahmadinejad's invitation and will continue to be of service for as long as and at position he deems appropriate."
Although, as predicted twenty days ago by the Tabnak news website, conflicts of opinion between Afshar and newly appointed Interior Minister Kordan may be sufficient for Afshar's departure, yesterday's remarks by this former Revolutionary Guards commander were of interest in their own right. In reiterating that he was invited to serve by the president, Afshar was insinuating that his presence at the ministry is outside the boundary of authority of the new Interior Minister. Nevertheless, Kargozaran newspaper reported on Saturday that denials of Afshar's resignation are not "serious," noting that, in previous instances as well, whenever an administration official was removed, denials were issued shortly prior to that official's removal.
Now rumors of Deputy Interior Minister's removal are abound even though the position is the most important deputy-position in all ministries, because it oversees election administration. Afshar's change would mark the third change in deputy Interior Minister position in the past three years. The first Interior Minister of the ninth administration was Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who initially appointed Ali Jannat as the ministry's political deputy, but when it was found that Jannati had supported Hashemi Rafsanjani in the presidential election, agitations began to remove him. As a result, Ahmadinejad personally picked the Deputy Interior Minister, so that, on the eve of the third round of city council elections, Ali Jannati was appointed as Iran's ambassador to Bahrain and a figure closer to Ahmadinejad administered the elections. As a result of these developments, and on the eve of the third round of city council elections, Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi, Ahmadinejad's high advisor and confidant was appointed as Deputy Interior Minister in September of 2006.
This time, Samareh Hashemi's removal was initiated by the president's order, and Mostafa Pourmohammadi said, "We would have liked to continue our cooperation with Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi as Deputy Interior Minister but due to pressure of work and his position as president's advisor, Dr. Ahmadinejad did not agree with his stay at the Interior Ministry."
As such, on the eve of the third elections administered by the Ahmadinejad government - eighth Majlis elections - in August 2007, Commander Alireza Afshar was appointed as the ministry's political deputy; the same person whose dismissal rumors are now abound in the media.
Ali Kordan, who last week approved the resignation of the Interior Ministry's reconstruction communication deputy, is yet to react to news of Afshar's resignation and only told reporters, "I know nothing about this issue."