Ahmadinejad Steps In as Oil Ministry Chief
Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday in televised remarks he will be the caretaker head of the oil ministry after dismissing the incumbent ahead of a merger with the energy ministry.
The use of the word “caretaker” suggests Mr. Ahmadinejad’s task as head of the oil ministry might be only temporary.
A lack of clarity about who will take charge of Iran’s most strategic sector in the long term merely adds to existing challenges, such as mounting sanctions and a program of steep energy-subsidy cuts.
With government and parliament in consensus on the oil ministry merger, “for the time being, I am the caretaker of the oil ministry,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in the televised remarks published on his website.
Oil minister Masoud Mirkazemi, seen as a presidential loyalist, was removed, along with two other key ministers this weekend, as part of proposed mergers between ministries.
“When it’s been decided to downsize the ministry, it’s no longer possible to safeguard the interests of individuals, no matter how close they are to me,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said.
“Therefore the interest of individuals must be sacrificed for the country, the revolution and its ideals. Perhaps an official is present today but may not be tomorrow,” he said in the remarks.
The dismissal of the oil minister has triggered speculation about who will be the new president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, a position Iran currently holds.
In the remarks, Mr. Ahmadinejad said: “Iran’s Presidency of OPEC is a legal position, and doesn’t depend on any individual, and things mentioned by some individual to that end are peripheral issues and unimportant.”