03 August 2011
With Majlis' 264-216 vote, Rostam Ghasemi becomes the first Revolutionary Guard commander to head a non-defense related government ministry. Ahmadinejad's pick, which had been widely opposed, not only marks a recent rare victory for the embattled president, but also consolidates further economic control into the hands of the country's paramilitary. Notably, Ghasemi is currently subject to both United States and European Union sanctions stemming from his role in Iran's nuclear program, and heads over to the Oil Ministry from his current capacity at Khatam al-Anbiya, a financial powerhouse that is one of the Guards many holdings and assets. Going forward, attention should be paid to Ghasemi's role in OPEC, where tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have recently peaked due to disagreements over oil output, and to whatever effect his appointment will have in rallying the increasingly disloyal Revolutionary Guard rank-and-file squarely back into the Ahmadinejad camp.