Pro-reform figures have never admitted to any wrongdoing in regard to the natural gas contract, with ex-President Rafsanjani calling his son’s sentence unfair and politically motivated. Although the judiciary has imposed a ban on media coverage of Crescent-related trials and developments, hard-line websites such as Moj Resa and Farda News have openly accused junior Hashemi of personally benefitting from the controversial gas deal.
Thus, hard-liners have in reality succeeded in marginalizing at least two prominent figures involved in the Crescent scandal. Despite their defeat in the February parliamentary elections, the hard-liners do not appear to be sitting silent in the face of the petroleum minister and his team, who aggressively seek contracts with major European oil companies.
The hard-liners have long since attacked the IPC and are expected to step up their criticism of the new contracts as Rouhani’s current term is coming to an end next year. Therefore, further changes in the Petroleum Ministry should not be seen as out of the question, and as a tactic that the incumbent moderates could use to reduce the overwhelming pressure hard-liners are exerting on them.