The Iranian parliament has decided to begin the process of impeaching Interior Minister Ali Kordan for falsely claiming to possess an honorary doctorate from Oxford University. While not a close ally of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Kordan is causing embarrassment to the president and could eventually bring down his government if he is unable to win a confidence vote, as Edward Yeranian reports for VOA from Cairo.
The short tenure of Iranian Interior Minister Ali Kordan appears to be drawing to a close, after Iran's parliament began the impeachment process Tuesday. Kordan angered many Iranian lawmakers for falsely claiming to possess an honorary degree from Oxford University.
The ethics issue arose after Kordan told parliament during a confidence vote on August 5 that he possessed a degree from Oxford, which he proceeded to display. Officials from Oxford University later denied that Kordan had been awarded any degree from the institution.
The news of the impeachment process comes as little surprise, as the Iranian press has been ridiculing Kordan for weeks about his so-called "phony" doctorate, and many political commentators have predicted that his demise was imminent.
Top Iran expert Ali Nouri Zadeh tells VOA the Kordan scandal is causing some embarrassment to President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, despite the fact that both men were never close allies. Zadeh says the impeachment could imperil the presidency, because Mr. Ahmedinejad must go through a new confidence vote before parliament.
"First of all that was something we all expected," he said. "Mr. Kordan is not going to last beside the opponent of Mr. Ahmedinejad. Some of the supporters also withdrew support because of Mr. Kordan, bearing in mind that Mr. Kordan has not been selected by Mr. Ahmedinejad. On the contrary he was forced on him by Ayotallah Khamenei, but suddenly Ayotallah Khamenei stayed away and let Ahmedinejad to sustain the punches."
But Nouri Zadeh predicts that a deal will be reached between him and parliament speaker Ali Larijani to avoid a quick ouster of his government.
"Absolutely, if Mr. Ahmedinejad does not get vote of confidence this means the end of Ahmedinejad. Then, there will be the Ahmedinejad impeachment. He will be out. But, I do not think we have to look at it this way. I think the whole situation is not as dramatic as somebody may, you know, say. I think Ahmedinejad thinks he does not have too many months ahead of him so he may as I say have compromised with Larijani," said Zadeh.
President Ahmedinejad's term in office ends in August 2009, although it is widely expected that he will run again. Past rumors that parliament would cut Mr. Ahmedinejad's term short have not proved true, due to apparent behind-the-scenes support from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if Khamenei comes to Mr. Ahmedinejad's rescue, this time around.