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Iran FM Faces Threat of Dismissal after State Corruption Remarks

Iran FM Faces Threat of Dismissal after State Corruption Remarks

Wednesday, 21 November, 2018 - 09:30
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a meeting in Hyderabad, India, February 15, 2018. (Reuters)
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
The fallout from Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s contentious remarks last week on money laundering and corruption at Tehran institutions continues to be felt in Iran.

Ultra-conservative lawmakers have been eyeing means to take down the diplomatic team appointed by President Hassan Rouhani, considered a moderate reformist by many.

Iran’s internal dispute is rising at a time the country is struggling to counter tough US re-imposed economic sanctions and to salvage its national economy.

Zarif's stance sparked wide reactions among Iranian political officials, and on Sunday reports emerged over his possible dismissal.

Zarif’s commented made indirect references to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards Corps.

One of the loudest accusations against Zarif were made by head of the judiciary Sadiq Larijani, who described the top diplomat’s statements as “stab right in the heart.”

"Why did not he file a complaint to the judiciary if the corruption he claims is true?”

On November 11, Zarif had said that those who make billions of dollars from money laundering are spending millions of them to prevent the approval of the bills on more financial transparency.

Larijani expressed concern about Zarif’s statements being exploited by parties which he labeled as “hostile” against the Tehran regime.

On Tuesday, the conservative Tasnim news agency, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards, quoted a member of parliament as saying that a motion for Zarif’s dismissal is being prepared to be put to a vote. The minister has been demanded by lawmakers to submit whatever evidence he has to support his corruption claims by Tuesday, but he has so far failed to do so.

Zarif’s claims followed the Guardian Council rejecting and demanding 11 revisions for passing legislation to join the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

European countries have made demands that Iran up its game on leashing terror funding. Joining the Anti-Terrorism Funding FATF is one of those demands. By rejecting FATF, Iran runs the risk of losing whatever fragile support it has from the international community.

Zarif had told Iranian authorities that strong allies, such as China and Russia, are weighing in for Tehran to join the FATF.

Iran’s ultra-conservative political echelons are concerned with the FATF blocking Revolutionary Guards activity abroad by cutting funds to proxy militias, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthis in Yemen. The Guards’ foreign arm, the Quds Force, looks to be the most threatened by the FATF.

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