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Iran: Sacking health minister, sign of escalating factional feuding?

Marzieh Dastjerdi, the health minister and the only woman minister in Ahmadinejad’s cabinet was sacked, Iranian regime’s state-run television reported on December 27.   Her dismissal was swiftly followed by the forced resignation of Tehran medical faculty chief Bagher Larijani.

The removals are the result of several months of power struggle between Ahmadinejad and Larijani brothers over this ministry.


On Thursday, Ahmadinejad appointed Mohammad Hassan Tarighat Monfared as the health minister without bothering to announce dismissal of Dastjerdi.

At the same time, Marzieh Dastjerdi said in a published note that “her achievements in the health ministry” were due to “prevention of unprofessional intervention.”

It is said that one of the tensions were largely caused by  Ahmadinejad’s opposition to Bagher Larijani acting both as deputy health minister and chairman of policy council having full power in the health ministry, and at the same time chairing the faculty of medical sciences at the University of Tehran. Bagher Larijani’s powers have prompted many complains by those close to Ahmadinejad asking “why Bagher Larijani who chairs the faculty of medical sciences has become number one person in the ministry?”

In the meantime, the factional infighting resulted in some facts regarding  drug crisis in Iran to surface due to factional infighting surfaced.

Marzieh Dastjerdi had revealed several times in the past that the foreign currency allocated for drug purchase is not provided to the health ministry but are used for importing medical equipment with drug purchase having the lowest priority.

In addition, she had said: “we can circumvent transfer of currency abroad unofficially but cannot circumvent the problem of currency allocation by the central bank inside the country.”

The central bank officials, however, announced that it was the health minister herself who spent the money allocated for the ministry on importing cosmetics.

Meanwhile the websites advocating the supreme leader criticized Ahmadinejad for appointing Dastjerdi to that position 3 years ago as it was clear from beginning that she was a politician with a “different political tendency.” (Raja News, Dec. 27).

On Tuesday December 25, the website that publishes cabinet’s views wrote: “Dastjerdi was secretary of the women’s committee of Larijani’s election campaign.”

On the experience of having “a woman minister” in the cabinet, the website wrote: “if Ahmadinejad had preferred capabilities to appointing a women minister, with ideas different than that of the government, in a bid to gain fantasy prestige in the media, we would not have witnessed this chaos in the country’s health field.”

Observers believe the dismissals signal of a greater crisis to come as the regime’s presidential election scheduled for June 2013 approaches.