By Hossein Beizayi
In today’s competitive world where expertise, innovations, breakthroughs, and efficiency are commodities that the majority of the countries around the world are investing heavily in, in order to gain the upper hand and, at times, offer beyond and above incentives to land the top brains of the world on their lands, the authorities in Iran are rushing in hiring their relatives in lucrative government positions, regardless of their knowledge, expertise and cost. In fact, nepotism in Iran is not a new phenomenon and has been a common practice right from the beginning of the Islamic Republic’s reign. In the Iranian political fabric and formation, family members of ruling elites always play important roles and are considered above and beyond.
Nepotism has been rampant among Iranian presidents. Iran’s ex-president, late Hashemi Rafsanjani appointed his brother, Mohammad Hashemi, as his vice president for executive affairs. Similarly, Mohammad Khatami appointed his brother, Ali Khatami, as his chief of staff. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appointed his brother, Davoud Ahmadinejad, as chief of the president’s office of inspection.
The same trend can be observed among middle-ranking officials at the provincial level in the country. As an example, the governor of Sistan and Baluchistan Province, in southeastern Iran has appointed his nephew as the governor of Zahedan, the provincial capital.
After the victory of Mohammad Khatami in 1997, his brother, Mohammad Reza Khatami, who was an unknown person, garnered the highest vote in Tehran in the 2000 parliamentary election and eventually became deputy parliament speaker.
Not many months ago, Iran’s legislative and judicial branches were run by two brothers, Ali Larijani and Sadeq Larijani. Their third brother, Javad Larijani, is the chief of Iran’s Human Rights Council. Their fourth brother, Bagher Larijani, used to be the deputy health minister.
On July 15, 2017, Iranian judicial officials detained Hassan Fereidoun, the brother of Iran’s ex-president, also his special advisor. He was facing allegations of financial irregularities. Later on, he was reportedly dispatched to a hospital due to a health condition, from where he was released. The whole episode took only 24 hours.
One can hardly find a senior official in the Islamic Republic whose close family members are not occupying top positions.
Just recently, Tehran mayor Alireza Zakani appointed his son-in-law Hossein Heidari as his special advisor for the purpose of making urban management smart. When protests escalated in the press and on the state television and attracted everyone’s attention with a mixture of jokes and sarcasm, mayor Alireza Zakani said that his son-in-law, Hossein Haidari was supposed to work for free. Because of public anger and criticism, Zakani was forced to fire his own hire.
In an interview with the state-run ILNA News Agency Zahra Nejad Bahram, a so-called “moderate” activist, said: “The appointment of grooms and bridesmaids does not look good for the government. The president should intervene in some appointments. We should not degrade the country”. She adds: “The proposed Minister of Education who was introduced to the parliament had only the running of a school in his portfolio!”
The above is just the tip of the iceberg of the colossal magnitude of corruption in family-run government institutions. The fact is that cases of corruption and looting of the Iranian people’s resources, as well as nepotism and comradeship in government positions, are common. They are not limited to one administration and have become a common denominator of all administrations.
Corruption and nepotism are completely institutionalized when it comes to the regime. These factors, along with the inhumane repression of Iranian people, are what bind the regime officials and leaders together in their desperate attempt to seize and hold onto power in an already fragile regime.
As the Iranian economy is in ruins, and more and more people are falling below the poverty line, instead of finding solutions to rectify the problems, the Iranian regime is too busy with internal disputes over who has the bigger share of power.
The top officials are focused on ensuring that key posts in the government are filled with people they know and trust to push forward with the same ideologies. As a result, family members and close friends are often preferred to people who hold genuine qualifications for the roles.
In summary, one should not wonder why more than 80% of Iran’s population live under the government-declared line of poverty, why the inflation rate is getting close to 50%, why the rate of unemployment is so high, why people’s wellbeing and welfare are plunging as days and weeks pass by and many many more whys. In such a bizarre situation, expecting anything else may be considered irrational.