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Analysts: IRGC Commander Risky Choice For Iranian Oil Minister

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's appointeee as oil minister, Rostam Qasemi
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's appointeee as oil minister, Rostam Qasemi
Analysts say that Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's decision to name a senior revolutionary guard commander as the country's oil minister could cause instability and further hurt its energy revenues, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Ahmadinejad on July 27 asked parliament to approve Brigadier General Rostam Qasemi, the commander of Khatam ol-Anbia, a major construction contractor and the economic arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), as head of the Oil Ministry.

But Scotland-based Iran analyst Reza Taghizadeh told Radio Farda on July 27 that Rostam Qasemi's appointment will lead to instability within the Oil Ministry because the IRGC is a strong supporter of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has been feuding with Ahmadinejad.

Qasemi's experience in the oil industry is also being questioned.

Taghizadeh said that before Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005, Iran produced more than 4 million barrels of crude oil per day (bpd). Production has since fallen to less than 3 million bpd.

He said if the present trend continues, oil revenues -- on which about 85 percent of Iran's economy is dependent -- could drop precipitously low in the next few years.

Analysts say an oil minister with thorough experience in the energy sphere is desperately needed.

Radio Farda analyst Morad Veisi said the reason for Qasemi's nomination is that Ahmadinejad wants to lessen the IRGC pressure on his government in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in March.

He said that there has been a rift within the IRGC over whether or not to cooperate with Ahmadinejad's government, but it seems that after consulting with Khamenei it has opted to join Ahmadinejad's cabinet.