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Ahmadinejad's controversial cabinet

By Roger Hardy
BBC Middle East analyst

Iran's new defence minister, Ahmad Vahidi, is wanted by Argentina for his alleged role in a bomb attack in 1994.

Ahmad Vahidi
Ahmad Vahidi's appointment is likely to be unpopular outside Iran

The new oil minister, Masoud Mirkazemi, lacks experience.

If he was sent to an Opec conference, one deputy remarked sarcastically, he would be incapable of defending Iran's interests.

Mostafa Najjar, the new interior minister, is a senior commander in the Revolutionary Guard - a further sign that this elite force is tightening its grip on the country's affairs.

One way or another, it is a controversial cabinet.

The appointment of Mr Vahidi as defence minister - he got more votes than any other nominee - will be particularly unwelcome abroad.

He has been linked to a bomb attack against a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in 1994, in which 85 people were killed.

Argentina has already condemned his appointment, which is also bound to provoke criticism in Israel and the United States.

A rough ride

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cabinet choices were approved only after five days of heated parliamentary debate.

Susan Keshavarz (l), Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi (c) and Fatemeh Ajorlou (r)
Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, centre, will be Iran's first woman minister

Even then, of his 21 nominees, parliament rejected three. He must now come up with new nominees for energy, welfare and education.

Deputies approved Iran's first female minister since the Islamic revolution of 1979. (The Islamic Republic has had a woman vice-president, but never a woman minister.)

She is Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, who will be in charge of health.

In his key appointments - defence, foreign affairs, interior, oil - Mr Ahmadinejad got his way.

But it was a rough ride.

The conservative-dominated parliament was scathing in its criticism of some of his nominees.

They suspected some had been nominated not because of their ability, but because of their loyalty to him.

Twelve weeks after his controversial re-election, the president remains an intensely divisive figure within Iran's political elite.



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