Iran's ultraconservatives feeling vulnerable by the economic failures of the government are making moves to bring down Vice President Mohammad Mokhber.

The economic failure of President Ebrahim Raisi’s government has become clear to most Iranians, including the ultraconservatives or hardliners who fully backed him one year ago as he took office. Mokhber is Raisi’s economic czar who can be easily blamed for a 54-percent inflation rate and rising poverty with its political implications.

The economic crisis did not start with Raisi. Iran’s situation quickly deteriorated when the United States withdrew from the JCPOA nuclear agreement in 2018 and imposed crippling sanction. It was a repeat of early 2010s, when the United Nations imposed sanctions on Iran for pursuing a dangerous nuclear program. However, the Raisi government is being blamed for a high degree of inefficiency, lack of planning and highly questionable appointments.

Proreform daily Arman Melli wrote in a report on its Saturday that a demand to fire Mokhber is a message the conservative camp has been lately sending to president Raisi. According to the daily, this group of Iranian conservatives are determined to prove that the Raisi administration is inefficient.

Hardliners and conservatives in parliament jubilant as Raisi takes oath of office in early Auguat 2021

The paper wrote that some Iranian conservatives wanted a hardliner politician as vice President last year, but Raisi chose to work with Mokhber, who was a key official in the business conglomerates operating under the aegis of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

One year after his appointment as vice president, it is still not quite clear whether it was Raisi who asked Mokhber to join his cabinet or Khamenei, who knew Raisi did not have any executive experience, planted Mokhber in the government to make up for Raisi's shortcomings.

The report says that some ultraconservatives such as Javad Karimi Qoddousi: "I wish to tell the President that Mr. Mokhber lacks the capabilities required for his post. His staying in this position even for one hour will lead to losses for the government."

The ultraconservatives have also mentioned the discord between Mokhber and the other members of Raisi's economic team, particularly Vice President for Economic Affairs Mohsen Rezaei, as another reason for Mokhber's dismissal.

The Johnny Depp lookalike at a religious ceremony in Tehran

Last week, a big gaffe by Mokber led to a lot of public ridicule. A lookalike of American actor Johnny Depp showed up at a religious mourning ceremony and Mokhber tweeted, praising Depp for taking part in a Shiite religious event. When social media users and politicians reminded him that the person was only a lookalike of the US actor, Mokhber's office claimed that his tweet was somehow fabricated.

All these could be more meaningful with a report in reformist Shargh newspaper that went viral on Saturday. The report by its editor Ahmad Gholami said that "the Raisi administration is a continuation of the government of populist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and that it will inevitably sink in the same quagmire that Ahmadinejad's administration faced."

Gholami argued that both Ahmadinejad and Raisi started their terms of office by promising they would change everything, but Ahmadinejad gradually failed as economic conditions worsened in the early 2010s with UN sanctions.

Shargh's editor predicted that the Raisi administration will eventually suffer the same fate. However, to be fair and on the safe side, Gholami observed that the Raisi is shouldering a heavier burden of all sorts of economic problems that have accumulated during his predecessors and it is highly unlikely that he could find a way out of those problems as all roads ahead inevitably lead to the same quagmire.

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