Kayhan Supports New Corrupt Interior Minister
With the obligation to introduce an interim Interior Minister following the impeached removal of Interior Minister Ali Kordan last week, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad introduced Sadegh Mahsouli to the Majlis Speaker last week as his minister for the Interior Ministry.
Sadeq Mahsouli is not an unfamiliar name for the administration and Majlis. When four out of Ahmadinejad’s 21 proposed ministers failed to receive votes of confidence from the Majlis in summer of 2005, Ahmadinejad introduced one of his close friend, Sadegh Mahsouli, to run Iran’s Ministry of Oil.
At that time, members of the seventh Majlis opposed the selection by discussing controversies surrounding Mahsouli’s vast wealth and dubbing him the “billionaire general.” Finally, in response to lawmakers’ growing protests, Mahsouli announced his withdrawal for the position one night before he was scheduled to receive a vote of confidence in the Majlis. Angered by the lawmakers’ negative reaction to Mahsouli, Ahmadinejad selected him as his senior advisor.
Last spring Ahmadinejad referred to Mahsouli during a speech in Qom while speaking about the oil mafia: “The first time we introduced a Hezbollahi brother to curb corruption in the oil ministry but they accused that brother of mafia connections in a pamphlet.”
Ahmadinejad referred to Mahsouli as an anti-corruption “Hezbollahi brother” while the media has published numerous documents and articles about his vast wealth, financial corruption and land swaps with Iran’s northern neighbors during Ahmadinejad’s reign as Ardebil’s governor, whereby he purchased large areas of land below market price to develop properties.
Mahsouli admitted in the Fall of 2005 to the Majlis oil committee that in the past 10 years he had accumulated 160 billion dollars in wealth through property development.
Sadegh Mahsouli was Ahmadinejad’s friend in college, and served as his superior commander during the Iran-Iraq War, when he served as the commander of special sixth division of the Revolutionary Guards while Ahmadinejad served as a deputy engineer in the same division. This former military commander aided his friend at an important juncture, which solidified his relationship with Ahmadinejad. When, during the 2003 city council election, the conservatives managed to win enough seats to control Tehran’s municipal government and decided to appoint Ahmadinejad as mayor of Tehran, the Khatami administration’s interior minister refused to approve Ahmadinejad’s appointment decree for a long time. At that time, Sadegh Mahsouli convinced his brother-in-law, Ali Akbar Velayati, who serves as special advisor in international affairs to Ayatollah Khamenei, to intervene and with Velayati’s assistance Ahmadinejad’s decree was approved.
Two years later Ahmadinejad became the president and when his first choice for the oil ministry, Saeedlu, was unable to receive a vote of confidence from the Majlis, he introduced Sadegh Mahsouli as his candidate for the oil ministry, even though his name was previously thrown around in connection to the post and prompted a negative reaction by the seventh Majlis. In this regard Shahab website wrote: “The introduction of Mahsouli at a time when the rhetoric to fight the oil mafia had become widespread led to an uproar by the ideologue Majlis representatives. The criticism essentially revolved around his personal wealth and came a boiling point when Emad Afrough the then Majlis representative from Tehran proclaimed that Mahsuli possessed illegitimate windfall wealth while Ali Asghari the representative from Mashhad called him the Billionaire Governor.”
It should be noted that Asghari had also talked, without providing any details, about the $6.5 million case belonging to Mahsuli about his sale of oil to Tajikistan and reminded that a complaint had been filed in the Majlis against him, an investigation that required more time. But as time has passed, no investigation or a discussion about this issue has been made over the last three years after Mahsuli withdrew as the candidate to the ministry of oil.