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Raisi, His New VP In Disagreement Over Cabinet, Media Report

The delay and confusion about the makeup of Iran’s new government, has given way to speculations about differences of opinion between President Ebrahim Raisi and his First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber who was officially appointed to the post on Sunday, August 8.

Mokhber (full name: Mohammad Mokhber Dezfully) has overseen the largest financial trust under the aegis of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's office for 14 years. The Execution of Imam Khomein’s Order is an entity meant to be a charitable organization, which has become a business conglomerate by controlling companies, banks and businesses.

As Iranian analyst Jamshid Barzegar told Iran International TV on Sunday, Raisi and Mokhber have never had a chance to work together. Although both are close to Khamenei, they have never been on the same team. What they share though, is being sanctioned by the Trump administration. Mokhber was sanctioned in January as part of the conglomorate he headed, which is part of Khamenei's office.

On the first day of Mokhber's appointment as vice president, Iranian media including pro-reform news website Fararu speculated that the delay in announcing the names of Raisi's cabinet ministers is due to differences between Raisi and Mokhber, who is likely to be Iran's actual chief executive as a man Khamenei trusts as a financial manager.

According to Fararu, "Raisi and those around him," have rejected Mohammad Reza Farzin as Mokhber's choice for the post of the Minister of Economy and instead suggested an economist, Mohammad Hadi Zahedi Vafa for the post. Other reports say Raisi and Mokhber have still not agreed on the heads of the Planning and Budget Organization and the Central Bank of Iran, the two posts that do not need a vote of confidence by the Majles. 

The spokesman for the presidium of the Iranian parliament (Majles), Nezamoddin Musavi, has been quoted as saying that although Raisi's ministers were to be introduced by Sunday, the list is to be disclosed on Tuesday.

It turned out later on Sunday that the Majles is not going to have a session on Tuesday. MP Mohammad Hossein Farhangi told reporters that the introduction of the cabinet could be postponed to Wednesday. Khamenei had earlier called on the Majles and Raisi to make sure that the cabinet is introduced and endorsed as soon as possible.

However, according to Farhangi, casting vote of confidence for the new cabinet may not happen before the Muharram religious mourning days in another two weeks' time. Meanwhile, Massoumeh Pashaei Bahram, a lawmaker told reporters that hopefully the delay is not because of hardliner factions fighting to get a share of power.

This is the first time a First Vice President comes with a background at Khamenei's office, most probably with his endorsement. Analysts talking to Iran International TV suggested that Khamenei's office is likely to gain the upper hand in Raisi’s government.

Mokhber is known to be on the board of several banks and financial institutions both as an individual and in his capacity as the head of the Headquarters for Khomeini's Executive Order, which oversees hundreds of confiscated companies and other assets.

However, he spent most of his career in the Revolutionary Guards and Khamenei's office and familiarity with operations of the presidential administration is not his point of strength. Iran analysts interviewed by Iran International TV suspect that he is in fact Khamenei's choice for the post, while Raisi's own choice for heading his economic team, Farhad Rahbar has been working with the Iranian administration under three Presidents. 

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