11/18/2019, 09.47
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Protests against price hikes, for Khamenei foreign ‘hooligans’

Protests against fuel rationing and rising prices in Tehran and in various centers. At least one person died in clashes. The supreme leader attacks counter-revolutionaries and enemies of Iran. Washington's solidarity with  "peaceful protests against the regime".

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Supreme Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, attacks protesters who have taken to the streets of several cities across the country in recent days to protest against rising fuel prices. A measure taken by the government to counter the effects of US sanctions and the consequent economic crisis, which enjoys the support of the highest religious office of the Islamic Republic.

According to the new measures, each driver can buy a maximum of 60 liters of diesel per month, at a price of $ 0.13 per liter (15,000 rials). Each additional liter will cost double the base price. In the past it was possible to buy up to 250 liters a month at a price of 10 thousand rials.

In a speech broadcast by state television, Khamenei stated that "some people are no doubt worried by this decision ... but sabotage and arson is done by hooligans not our people". Iran's counter-revolutionaries and enemies, he added, "have always maintained tampering and security breaches, and continue to do so."

Unfortunately, the supreme leader concluded, "some problems have arisen, a number of people have lost their lives and some centers have been destroyed."

Official sources report that in the violence linked to street protests a person would have died; however, the actual number of victims could be greater. The authorities threaten even tougher answers if "illegal" actions continue.

The protests started last November 15, following the government's unexpected decision to ration the oil and to remove the subsidies, triggering a surge in prices that in some cases reached 50%. Behind the increases in fuel, the US President Donald Trump's decision in May 2018 to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA)​​and introduce the toughest sanctions in history, which hit the population and triggered a very serious economic crisis.

Clashes and violence followed one another the following day in Tehran and in dozens of other cities. The authorities justify the increase in prices with the need to raise funds amounting to 2.55 billion dollars a year for subsidies to 18 million poor families and to feed the coffers of 60 million Iranians.

A group of Iranian parliamentarians was preparing a motion to convince the government to review the increases. However, they withdrew the initiative after the support expressed by the supreme guide. Intelligence has also intervened on the protests, specifying that the protest leaders "have been identified" and "appropriate measures" will be taken. "People - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said - have the right to demonstrate. But this does not mean committing violence. We cannot allow insecurity to spread. "

Local sources speak of a general return to calm. In fact, several videos broadcast on the net show that the demonstrations continue both in Tehran and in several other centers, even if there are no independent confirmations on the authenticity of the films. Moreover, the authorities have limited internet access to obstruct communications: the international observatory of the NetBlocks network speaks of a connectivity yesterday that has fallen to 5% compared to normality.

The US government shows solidarity with the protesters, talking about "peaceful protests against the regime". Tehran's reply is immediate, according to which these "interventionist" statements express Washington's closeness "to a group of troublemakers". The Iranian people, the note concludes, know that "these hypocritical words do not translate into true solidarity".

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