How Dual Nationality became a Key Controversy in Iran

By Zahra Alipour for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

In Iran, the Intelligence Ministry’s barring of 35 senior officials from holding government positions has once again brought dual nationals into the spotlight. The issue was initially raised in the ninth parliament (2012-16) as a tool to pressure President Hassan Rouhani’s administration while Iran was engaged in nuclear negotiations with the six world powers.

Since then, it has been pursued under what is called the “infiltration project” by parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

In early October, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi (pictured) gave members of the parliamentary commission the names of 79 individuals suspected of being dual nationals or holding US green cards; 35 of them were later barred from holding government positions after investigations proved that they did in fact possess such documents.

The controversy over Iranian officials holding dual nationalities began in February 2015, when a group of hard-liners and other government critics in parliament suggested that a senior official in the presidency should be dismissed for allegedly holding US permanent residency. The 13 lawmakers, most of whom were from the hard-line Steadfastness Front, warned that government jobs should not be given to individuals who pledge their oath of allegiance to the flag of foreign states, suggesting that Rouhani should dismiss the individual in question.

Rouhani’s office rejected the claim and said, “No official in the office of the president has dual citizenship and the issue has probably been mixed up with those that have a green card.”

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