Some officials from former Iranian president Hassan Rouhani's administration moved to Europe under the pretext of "air pollution" being bad in Tehran. Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency reported the accusation, likely with the backing of the new government, which aims to showcase the feeble and bourgeois mentality of the previous administration.
Hojjatoleslam Alireza Salimi, the representative of Mahalat and Delijan in the Islamic Consultative Assembly, was quoted as saying officials up to the level of deputy ministers have moved to Vienna and Geneva for many months.
The report comes as Tehran seeks to ban officials from leaving the country after they complete their work.
"One of the problems of our country is that the second home of some officials is in Iran, and therefore in their plans and actions, they put all the eggs of the country's problems in the basket of several Western countries," the report said.
Indeed, it has been long suspected that Iranians, such as former foreign minister Javad Zarif, preferred to live in the West, even as he was a member of a regime that shouts "death to America."
Many Iranian officials were educated at Western universities by the very system they claim to hate.
It is typical of the Iranian jet-set elite – who crush human rights at home and bash the West – to enjoy the good life when abroad. Many of them were educated at Western universities by the very system they claim to hate, enjoying their time in secular countries while their regime is busy chasing after women for wearing a headscarf improperly.
Western countries have generally tolerated this, even as citizens of the UK and elsewhere are kidnapped and held in Iran. While the West will not crack down, it appears Iran may be cracking down on its own.
"Because of these mismanagements, the people see serious harms, and those in charge of these mismanagements must be held accountable," the report said. It also said inflation is out of control and asked whether those responsible are enjoying time abroad while Iranians suffer?
"Right now, some of these people who were in charge in the previous government at the level of deputy ministers and heads of important national organizations have gone to Geneva and Vienna for two or three months under the pretext of air pollution in Tehran and have settled there," Salimi said. "The issues of the country are interviewed and theorized, and the country is disintegrated. In recent summer, some of them were going to European countries under the pretext of hot weather."
Iran's regime is asking the tough questions that many countries ask when they find out their elected officials are irresponsible or place burdens on their people but don't have the same burdens on themselves.
"Why should these people [who left] be allowed to so easily play with national interests while their performance directly affects the lives of the people, and they have the first-class information of the country at their disposal and their unruly departure may be dangerous, so after completing their responsibilities, there should be a reasonable and specific time to review the performance and case," the Fars report said.
Iran may ban former officials from leaving for a period of three years.
Iran may try to ban former officials from leaving for a period of three years. The tough talk from Iran accuses former officials of being narcissistic and says they should be held accountable.
A member of the parliament's presidium said: "Some people consider this plan an insult, while the insult is to act in such a way that people can no longer buy meat or stop buying some fruits."
During the previous administration, those who benefited from Iran's difficulties, such as Zarif, were busy with tweets mocking the US and Israel while smiling with European officials at every meeting. Zarif pretended to be close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but it appears he was critical of key officials in private.
In the end, it may be Iran's so-called hard-liners who actually hold to account those such as Zarif, while Western countries went easy on Iran's jet-set officials, fearful that the "hard-liners" might come to power.
There is another angle here as well. Iran's current regime has been slow to return to the Iran nuclear talks. The previous one seemed to prefer talks with Western countries, while often misleading the West. Those former officials spent large amounts of time in places such as Vienna and Geneva under the guise of these talks.
It may be that their real goal was simply to find a way to enjoy time in Europe at nice restaurants and hotels, perhaps even violating the theocratic enforcements back home. That may be one reason Iran was not eager to return to the talks – partly because it was all a charade and partly because the new government has discovered that its own officials were not conducting official business but were busy partying in Europe.
Either way, the new zeal with which the old officials are being castigated looks to be a way to clean house against Rouhani and others, accusing them of benefiting while Iranians suffer.
Many of those suffering likely know the elephant in the room is the regime itself, not a few officials enjoying the good life abroad. It is the regime that guns down protesters – not the cheese plate in some Vienna hotel.
Seth Frantzman is a Ginsburg-Milstein Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and senior Middle East correspondent at The Jerusalem Post.