Protests in Iran

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PRESIDENT Hassan Rouhani warned on Sunday that “anarchy and rioting” would not be tolerated after fuel price hikes led to deadly mass protests throughout Iran. The unrest erupted on Friday, hours after it was announced the price of petrol would rise to 15,000 Riyals per litre (12 US cents) from 10,000 for the first 60 litres, and to 30,000 Riyals (0.24 US cents) for any extra fuel bought after that each month.
It is quite obvious that the prevailing situation is direct result of the crippling sanctions that the United States has re-imposed on Iran after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal. The sanctions are hitting all sectors of Iranian economy with Riyal plummeting, inflation running at more than 40 percent, and the International Monetary Fund expecting Iran’s economy to contract by 9.5% this year and stagnate in 2020. In this backdrop, one can understand the rational of hike in oil price as well as plight of the protestors who are the ultimate sufferers of the economic fall out of the sanctions. The petrol plan is expected to generate 300 trillion Riyals ($2.55bn) per annum for the Government but ordinary Iranian can hardly absorb this sudden shock. The instant eruption of riots, their severity and sharp reaction of the Government are indicators that the US is succeeding in its plan to destabilize the country through sanctions. The protests are reflective of growing unrest among people and use of force against demonstrators and placing of curbs on freedoms including restrictions on social media would compound the issue further. There are possibilities that the protests might be fueled by vested interests and that is why Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei too has pointed a finger at opponents of the Islamic Republic and foreign enemies for “sabotage”. The situation, therefore, demands the Iranian Government should handle the issue with care.

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