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Iran: Fuel price increase to ignite fire of unrest

Long queues of cars at pump stations across Iran
Long queues of cars at pump stations across Iran

Analysis by PMOI/MEK


Iran, May 7, 2019 The open-door session of Iran’s Majlis (parliament) on Monday started with a two-hour delay. This session was once again the scene of shocking revelations discussed by some members about the gravity of economic and social crises the regime is facing from one hand, and the incompetence and failure of the mullahs to deal with them on the other.

The session started first behind closed doors where Majlis members discussed the consequences of increasing gasoline prices and the subsequent fuel rationing.

The regime had earlier announced that the price increase would go into effect on May 2. Fearing a public backlash, however, which would have resulted in unrest throughout the country, the regime had to back down from its intentions. 

Naghavi Hosseini, chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, dragged this sensitive subject to the open-door session.

“Increasing the price of gasoline means setting fire to the haystack of social discontent and creating a second wave of cost increases in the already volatile and uncontrollable market that the state is right now facing,” Naghavi Hosseini said. “We must not, under any circumstances allow the prices to increase.”

Lashing out against the administration of regime President Hassan Rouhani, Hosseini added that some members of the government have defected.

Amir Khojasteh, another Majlis member and the head of “Fight Against Economic Corruption Group,” revealed another angle of the chaos and disarray inside the lame duck regime apparatus.

“It is not clear who runs the country, and it is not clear who is setting the limits? Everything is in shambles and nothing is placed on its original place. There is a strange confusion in the society and nobody seems to take responsibility or is even able to face it,” Khojasteh wondered.

He continued with listing a number of the regime’s dreadful blunders in managing various crises in recent days and weeks.

“On one hand, we export high-quality sheep to Pakistan and neighboring Arab countries under government supervision. And on the other hand, we purchase meat paying 42,000 rials for it and sell it to the consumer with a price tag of 1,200,000 rials,” Khojasteh revealed. “We portray ourselves to the world as a system unable to manage and run the country. In other words, we are losing currency by sending it outside the country while we also lose our raw material. This is not the meaning of correct management.”

He also touched on a portion of the scope of pressures people are bearing under the rule of the incompetence mullahs.

“This is not how to manage the economy. There is heavy pressure on the people. People are being crushed under the weight of all these pressures. They have to deal one day with the issue of gas price increases, then the next day the price of onion goes up. The price of onion, which was 8,000 rials yesterday, suddenly jumps up to 15,000 rials the next day. One day the price of sugar sits at 3,000 rials. Then all of the warehouses start to stack up on sugar. A few days later the price of the same sugar doubles or even rises to 7,500 or 8,000 rials. Bazaar management is controlled by dealers. This is not the doing of foreigners. This is not the Americans doing this to us. We export sheep and then import 50,000 sheeps ourselves and call it an honor or glory for us. Our vegetables and other produce are rapidly being sent to Iraq? What a mess!” Khjasteh continued to say. He shouted, “The price of gas must not go up. You showed that with the increase in the price of gas, the price of everything else would go up, too.”
Soheila Jelodarzadeh, another Majlis member, brought up the issue of workers and pensioners not receiving their paychecks.

“Workers and pensioners are not being paid even half of their daily salaries. There is no way people can continue like this. It reminds us of the Middle Ages and the workers’ poverty. These workers cannot find an adequate home even in the most impoverished parts of town. The phenomenon of homeless pensioners is another issue materializing before our eyes. We pride ourselves for being Muslim, but non-Muslims are advancing far beyond us. Their banks don’t charge skyrocketing interests, the value of their currency does not depreciate so drastically as ours does and their industry do not go bankrupt,” Soheila Jelodarzadeh admitted.

Just a day earlier, the Majlis was the scene of a similarly heated dispute. Jafarzadeh Eamenabadi, a Majlis member affiliated to the Rouhani faction, portrayed the same picture of crises and failures the regime is scrambling in.

“People are feeling that nobody is thinking about them and they are forgotten. They think that they are left alone in the cold and witness the exact opposite of all the promises and pledges they hear from us,” Eamenabadi said.

Addressing the rival faction, Eamenabadi acknowledged that Rouhani’s administration is a lame duck entity and incompetent in managing the country. “The government is of course in shambles. If we threw a couple of punches at its jaw and stomach, what would be left of it? Therefore, we have to keep the government on its feet with any possible means available. Be it advice, counseling, or even punishing. You know many of the ministers have defected. If they allow others to resign, I can promise you that at least another three or four ministers are ready to resign,”

Explaining the scope of dissatisfaction among the public, Eamenabadi said, “People are very concerned, frustrated and angry. When they see me they talk about things that I cannot reveal. The situation is extremely dire.”