It has been a month since Hassan Rouhani was inaugurated as President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. While his administration’s first twenty days in office were busy, the last ten days have seen a slowing of activity, with Rouhani failing to make progress on his election promises. One of the main reasons for this slowdown is the ongoing crisis in Syria. The Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology, currently headed by an interim caretaker, and Ministry of Petroleum have dominated the news in the last ten days.
Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology
Jafar Tofighi, Ministry caretaker, announced the ministry’s plans to improve the condition of universities and foster an open political environment within them. Referring to the practice of blacklisting politically active students, he promised that “no university student will be ‘starred’ this year.” Tofighi also added that the Ministry asked Iran’s Sanjesh Organization, a subsidiary body in charge of administering country-wide university entrance exams, to help the ministry deal with students currently starred. Tofighi stated that this year no students will be denied access to a university education because of personal preferences or political inclinations.
Tofighi’s decision to dismiss Sadreddin Shariati, who has headed Allameh Tabatabai University for the past eight years, has also attracted media attention. Shariati has been harshly criticized for shutting down several academic programs, dismissing some professors and forcing others to retire, and using security forces to deal with politically active students. Tofighi appointed Hossein Salimi, a faculty member at Allameh Tabatabai who holds a PhD in international relations, as Shariati’s replacement.
Ministry of Petroleum
In line with a campaign promise made to complete the development of the South Pars natural gas field, President Rouhani’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Namdar Zanganeh visited the project site in his first week on the job. Zanganeh also reordered the project’s different phases, something experts suggested be done when in 2010 eight of the project’s phases started at the same time. Zanganeh emphasized that from now on, focus should be on completing the implementation of ongoing projects.