FRANCE — The Iranian regime’s new economic strategies include a 300% price hike in the price of petrol [gasoline]. Every driver who holds a so-called “fuel card” is allowed to purchase 6 liters a month, for 1500 Toman per litre.* If someone requires more, he needs to pay 3000 Toman a litre instead. At least two-thirds of Iran’s population is currently under the poverty line. Many of these citizens rely on driving as their main source of income. Being forced to adjust to this sudden, massive petrol price hike is very much like someone setting a fire to their last means of survival.
Massive petrol price hike ignites anger across the nation of Iran
The increase in the price paid at the pump for petrol in Iran has triggered another wave of protests across the nation. They strongly resemble those that erupted 2 years ago. People still target the regime’s leaders, but more angrily now than ever. That is evident in their attacks targeted on banks, police stations, and IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.) forces.
Moreover, young people in at least 171 cities have rallied into the streets, turning them into what looks more like a war zone. They fight head to head with the oppressive Iranian police forces, including its undercover operatives. Up until the day this article was written, 300 have died thus far in the current protests.
One might ask why the regime chose to pull such a massive petrol price hike when it knew full well what consequences would follow. The regime’s attitude is puzzling, especially given the concurrent protests currently unfolding in Iraq and Lebanon.
The consequences of key price hikes in a declining economy
On November 14, 2019, [newspaper] Jahan-e-Sanat reported the following.
“The higher the petrol price goes, the angrier people would get; which is something that should be kept in mind and planned for, before making any price changes”.
Clearly, the dictatorship is suffocating itself
According to expert economists, the continuing astronomical plundering of the Iranian people by the regime is really taking its toll on the country’s oil production rates. With the ongoing sanctions against the regime constricting international sales, Iran’s petrol isn’t selling well. That puts the regime under even greater pressure, leading it to wage an even more intense struggle, both within the country and in the midde-east region as well.
Despite the reduced income of the mullahs and the increasing pressure on their regime, they still stubbornly refuse to reduce their costly expenditures on terrorism and nuclear development activities. This means that for as long as the regime lives, the Iranian people will continue to suffer more and more.
One interesting note. 5 days before the regime announced its massive petrol price hike, police and undercover forces gathered to begin monitoring certain areas including petrol stations. This clearly shows that the regime was expecting this public backlash all along.
Petrol is adding more fuel to fire
On 11 April, Tasnim (an IRGC-based newsagency) held an interview with a University professor, where it claimed that 40 million people live under the poverty line. But the professor advised them that the correct number is 50 million. With the inflation and currency crisis being more out of control than ever now, this situation has certainly gotten much worse since.
This is why raising the petrol price to its current high level is really no different than adding fuel to fire.
The regime seems to have been aware of this. But they underestimated two things:
- The explosivity of people’s anger, and
- The significance of Iraq’s and Lebanon’s protests.
Regarding the latter item, in Iraq, people are chanting “Iran’s regime, out! Out!” and in Iran, “death to dictators.” While in Iran, the cry is “Death to Khamenei!”
Both battle cries point toward a common target, which is the Iranian regime itself.
The regime’s dilemma
The current dilemma for the mullahs is to choose between giving in and fighting against the people. The regime has clearly opted for the latter. But by standing against protestors, who have all hit rock bottom and simply have nothing more to lose, the regime can’t survive for much longer. That proves especially true given the regime’s current declining social and economic status.
The ultimate question is this one. How does the regime intend to fight off such angry and courageous protestors? We shall see over the next several days.
* [Editor’s note: Equivalent cost in $US: Very approximately, by converting Tomans to the Iranian Rial and multiplying 1 litre by 4 to roughly equal one US gallon of gasoline: $8.48 per US gallon. Surcharged price above 6 liters = approximately $16.96 $US per gallon. Prices as of November 11, 2019 quote. Prices and equivalencies can vary substantially each day in Iran to to the country’s economic instability and current high rate of inflation.]
Lead Image: Abadan Refinery – Catherine Legrand, Jacques Legrand: Shah-i Iran.
Creative Publishing International (farsi edition), Minnetonka, MN 1999, S. 110. IR/RR. Rafinerie Abadan, 1970.