Sunday, November 9, 2008

Billionaire General to Replace Kordan?

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. ‎

Billionaire General
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.‎

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