Iranians Protest Petrol Rationing
- Iranians riot in reaction to petrol rationing
Riots Rock Tehran After Petrol Rationing Implemented
June 27, 2007
Tehran's petrol stations were aflame with protests last night.
Although petrol rations have been expected for a few months, with
phase one starting ten days ago with government vehicles, their
implementation sparked furious riots in which petrol stations were set
on fire and a supermarket and bank also attacked.
Iranians were given only two hours' notice of the move that limits
private drivers to 100 litres of fuel a month, hearing an announcement
on the news. The rationing is due to last four months but may be
extended to six. The total amount allowed to private vehicles in that
time is 400 litres. The aim is to reduce Iran's petrol subsidies which
Despite its huge energy reserves, Iran lacks refining capacity and it
imports about 40% of its petrol. The country has a large budget
deficit largely caused by fuel subsidies. The inflation rate is
currently estimated at 20-30%.
How the government handles the inevitable rising anger of its people
remains to be seen. Iranians are, much like Americans, in love with
their cars and therefore oil, and as the country with some of the
largest oil reserves in the world and OPEC's number two oil producer,
they feel access to cheap petrol is their birthright.
Most of Iran's modern history, with its multiplicity of revolutions,
is soaked in oil. This commodity has brought Iran its riches and
most of its troubles. Leaders through the ages have attracted support
by promising to distribute oil wealth fairly, most recently it was an
election promise of president Ahmadinejad's. Ayatollah Khomeini's
revolutionary rhetoric included images of oil wells in every back garden.
But so far the oil wealth has yet to be redistributed, though heavy
government subsidies have given Iranians petrol so cheap that a litre
cost less than a bottle of mineral water. But now that Iran feels
under threat of sanctions and fears for an interruption in its petrol
imports, the government is reigning in subsidies. Anger and
frustration have already boiled over, as Iranians accuse the
government of mishandling the move, with lack of information, adequate
notice and failure to properly distribute the Smart Cards needed at
Iran's public transport system is not extensive enough to pick up the
slack and everyone is left wondering what they will do when they reach
their petrol limit before the month is up. Perhaps they will all head
downtown where there is already a reported brisk black market trade in
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