Ahmadinejad picks controversial oil czar

July 28, 2011 at 6:16 AM

TEHRAN, July 28 (UPI) -- A senior commander of Iran's elite military force has been chosen to be the country's next oil minister, the Iranian president said in a letter to Parliament.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nominated Brig. Gen. Rostam Qasemi to take charge of the Ministry of Industries, Mines and Trade as well as Ministry of Oil, the official Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting reports.

Ahmadinejad in June named Mohammed Ali-Abadi as the caretaker oil minister. Masoud Mir Kazemi was removed as the country's oil minister in March and the president later declared himself caretaker minister.

Members of Parliament wrote to top officials complaining the earlier move by Ahmadinejad to not appoint a caretaker official to control the Ministry of Oil was illegal.

Ahmadinejad is facing increasing opposition following investigations into members of his inner circle.

Qasemi is the target of U.S. and European sanctions for his work on Iran's controversial nuclear program. If he becomes oil minister, he would sit as the rotating president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

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