By Ali Omidi for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
After much speculation, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has appointed caretakers for the three empty seats in his Cabinet: Reza Salehi Amiri (from the Moderation and Development Party) for minister of culture and Islamic guidance; Fakhrodin Ahmadi Danesh-Ashtiani (from the Islamic Iran Participation Front) for education minister; and Masoud Soltanifar (from the National Trust Party) for minister of sports and youth affairs — all of whom have been introduced to parliament for votes of confidence.
They will, respectively, replace Ali Jannati, Ali Asghar Fani and Mahmoud Goudarzi, who tendered their resignations Oct. 19.
Rouhani had nominated Amiri, Danesh-Ashtiani and Soltanifar for different ministerial positions back in 2013 in his initial proposed Cabinet. However, all of them were rejected by parliament, as they failed to gain votes of confidence. Defending his Cabinet reshuffle, Rouhani said, “The country’s goal is development and transcendence, and the government’s goal is to be at the service of the society and people. To achieve this goal, sometimes a manager has to be kept and sometimes changed.”
Although Rouhani has described Iran’s main problem as “unemployment among the country’s educated youth, and especially among young women,” the ministers has replaced were responsible for culture and sports. Hence, the key question is why these ministers have been replaced and the basis of the criteria for the selection of their successors.
The absence of cultural reform, which Rouhani had promised during his 2013 campaign and the initial part of his term, could be one contributing factor. Examples of this include the cancellation of concerts in the northeastern city of Mashhad, or the forced resignation of the Culture Ministry’s director, Jannati, in the holy city of Qom related to his giving singers permission to hold concerts there.