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Middle East

Iran Parliament sacks second cabinet minister within a month

Iran parliament, Iran, Economy

Iran parliament has sacked Economy Minister Masoud Karbasian amidst mounting economic crisis.

Karbasian is the second cabinet minister to be sacked this month, following the sack of Labour Minister Ali Rabiei in August 8.

Critics say the government squandered the opportunities presented by the 2015 nuclear deal and have failed to tackle high rates of inflation and joblessness.

With the United States abandoning the nuclear deal in May and re-imposing sanctions, Rouhani’s hopes of attracting vast sums of foreign investment appear dead in the water.

Major European firms, including France’s Total, Peugeot and Renault, and Germany’s Siemens and Daimler, have all announced their departure since the US announcement.

Rouhani’s conservative opponents — who long-opposed his outreach to the West and efforts to improve civil liberties — say the primary blame lies with government corruption and mismanagement.

“Inefficiency and lack of planning have nothing to do with sanctions,” said one lawmaker, Abbas Payizadeh, in a speech ahead of the vote.

“Wrong decisions have harmed the people and led to individuals looting public assets,” he added.

Rouhani, a political moderate, can still count on the support of a sizeable reformist bloc in parliament, but even some of its key figures have grown disillusioned.

“What have we done with this nation? We made them miserable and wretched,” said Elias Hazrati, of the reformist Hope faction in parliament.

“The middle class are moving towards poverty,” added Hazrati, who broke ranks to vote in favour of the sack.

For now, Rouhani remains protected by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said this month that removing the president would “play into the hands of the enemy”.

But parliament has summoned the president for the first time to answer questions on the crisis, and he is expected to appear on Tuesday.

One of the key markers of Iran’s economic crisis has been the collapse in the currency, which has lost around half its value since April.

That was partly owing to US hostility, but also due to a disastrous decision to fix the value of the rial and shut down currency traders. The move triggered a boom in the black market and widespread corruption, before the decision was finally reversed this month.

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