Iran's hardliners appear to be zeroing in on former President Hassan Rouhani and his officials in a bid to blame them for the country's long-standing problems.
Former foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Rouhani’s Communication and ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi are also targets for hardliners who want to find scapegoats for the country's economic, foreign policy and social problems.
The attempt to put Rouhani and his ministers on trial, as the Majles has been calling it, could also be a cover to divert attention from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who is the man making nearly all decisions relating to the affairs of the state without assuming responsibility when his policies go wrong.
Iran has faced various degrees of isolation during Khamenei’s 32-year rule and has faced sanctions because of his policies opposing the United States, Israel and the West in general.
On October 7, Mohammad Hossein Asafari, the deputy chairman of the Iranian parliament's Interior Affairs Committee called for putting Rouhani and Zarif on trial and blamed them for the failure in nuclear negotiations in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Asafari even accused Zarif of signing the deal also called the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) without having read it first. He said the Rouhani administration should have sought guarantees from the US to stand by its promises under the JCPOA.
Despite denials by Zarif, Asafari charged that Zarif has allegedly "confessed" that he did not know about the terms of the deal. He said: "All the evidence available indicate that the failure of the talks is due to the negligence of the negotiating team led by Zarif."
Subsequently, another influential lawmaker told the media that a legal case has been made against Zarif and Rouhani. Hassan Shojaee said that the committee has received a petition signed by more than 500,000 individuals who demanded Rouhani's trial.
According to Shojaee, the charges against Rouhani include, "not doing anything about rising [foreign currency] rates, devaluation of national currency and destruction of people's assets, giving key jobs to spies and dual nationals, and failing to tackle the rising death toll as the coronavirus pandemic raged on." Rouhani is being blamed for the pandemic toll, while it was Khamenei who banned the purchase of American and British vaccines in January.
Reformist daily Sharq has described the initiatives taken by the Majles against Rouhani and his ministers as an attempt to settle scores now when he is out of power and unable to respond to charges like before. Sharq said the hardliners treat Rouhani in a way as if mudslinging is their only solution in the face of the country's problems.
In another development, the Iranian Judiciary has announced that former Communication and ITC minister Jahromi is free on bail and might be called to court to stand trial or even go to jail. He has been a target for hardliners who accuse him of not pursuing more internet censorship, specially blocking popular social media apps.
Recently, Jahromi once again opposed parliament's plan to ban or radically restrict all social media, while hardliner lawmakers, including former ultraconservative Paydari Party leader Morteza Agha Tehrani, said that they would further the plan even all 80 million Iranians oppose it.