Reporting by PMOI/MEK
Iran, August 26, 2021—After nearly a week of debate, the Majlis (parliament) issued its vote of confidence on all but one nominee for the cabinet of Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian regime’s new president.
The lineup of Raisi’s government seems to be in line with regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s vision of a “young and hezbollahi” government, which in other words means old regime veterans who have been involved in decades of financial corruption, repression, and terrorism.
Many of Raisi’s ministers are sanctioned by the United States for their role in the regime’s illicit activities and human rights violations. Two of his key officials are wanted by the Interpol for involvement in terror activities. Raisi himself is blacklisted by the U.S. for his human rights violations as the head of the Judiciary, making him the first regime president to be under foreign sanctions before taking office.
A terror-focused foreign policy
Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Raisi’s pick for foreign minister, has made no secret of his ties with the regime’s terror apparatus.
In the Sunday session of the Majlis (parliament), Amir Abdollahian vowed to support the “resistance front,” an umbrella term the regime uses to refer to its proxy terrorist groups in the Middle East region.
In an earlier meeting with the Majlis culture commission, Amir Abdollahian said that that he will “continue the path” of Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Quds Force and the mastermind of the regime’s terror operations.
Abdollahian previously served as the Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs and had a very close relationship with Soleimani. He has also served the regime’s diplomacy apparatus in Iraq, Bahrain, and Syria. He has close ties to the regime’s terror proxy groups in the region, including the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Hashd al-Shabi in Iraq.
Sanctioned officials with a corrupt background
Some of Raisi’s key ministers are on the U.S. sanctions list. Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, who is now defense minister, was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in January 2020 along with seven other officials who “have advanced the regime’s destabilizing objectives.” The sanctions followed a missile strike by the regime against a U.S. military base in Iraq.
Also included in the same sanctions list was Mohsen Rezaee, whom Raisi appointed as his deputy for economic affairs. Rezaee is a former commander-in-chief of the IRGC and the current secretary of the Expediency Council. Rezaee has a long career in foreign terrorism and domestic repression. He is among the key suspects of a 1994 bombing against the AMIA Jewish community in Argentina, resulting in the deaths of 85 people. Reza’i remains wanted by Argentina and has an active international arrest warrant through Interpol.
Ahmad Vahidi, the upcoming interior minister, was the commander of the terrorist IRGC Quds Force in the 1990s. He is also wanted by the Interpol for his role in the bombing of the AMIA center in Argentina in 1994. He served as defense minister during Ahmadinejad’s presidency.
Javad Oji, slated to head the oil ministry, is another key minister who is under U.S. sanctions. Oji was deputy oil minister in Ahmadinejad’s government and is among the managers of the Mostazafan Foundation, a corrupt financial institution overseen by regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei that has vast sway over Iran’s economy, including finance, energy, construction, and mining. In November 2020, Oji’s name was included in a list of officials and institutions blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury for their ties to Mostazafan, described as “an ostensibly a charitable organization charged with providing benefits to the poor and oppressed, its holdings are expropriated from the Iranian people and are used by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to enrich his office, reward his political allies, and persecute the regime’s enemies.”
Massoud Mirkazemi, the head of the Budget and Planning Organization, was the trade minister and oil minister in the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His name was mentioned several times in the Babak Zanjani oil embezzlement case, worth billions of dollars.
Rostam Ghassemi, appointed as minister of roads and urban development, was Ahamdinejad’s oil minister. He was one of the main suspects in the Babak Zanjani dossier but claimed to know nothing of the issue when he was summoned to court.
Ghassemi was placed under U.S. sanctions in 2019 for his role in overseeing a large shipping network “that is directed by and financially supports the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and its terrorist proxy Hizballah. Over the past year, the IRGC-QF has moved oil worth hundreds of millions of dollars or more through this network for the benefit of the brutal Assad regime, Hizballah, and other illicit actors.” He is also the former head of the Khatam al-Anbiya Constructions Headquarters, an IRGC-owned company that has a vast sway in the energy, mining, and defense sector. Khatam al-Anbiya was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in 2010 for its role in funding the regime’s nuclear weapons program.
During the Majlis hearings this week, Ghassemi twice said that he is ready to head the oil ministry instead of roads.
Mohammad Mokhber, Raisi’s first vice president, was appointed as the head of Execution of Khomeini’s Order (EIKO) in 2007. EIKO is a major economic conglomerate that is part of the tax-exempt institutions that directly report to Khamenei. Over the decades, EIKO has plundered billions of dollars from the Iranian people’s assets. According to a Reuters report in 2013, EIKO holds $95 billion in assets. In January 2021, the U.S. placed sanctions on EIKO and other regime-run institutions, describing them as entities whose assets “have been used by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to enrich his office, reward his political allies, and persecute the regime’s perceived enemies.”