On Saturday, riot police and security forces clashed with demonstrators in Tehran and dozens of cities across Iran. And protests against a rise in gasoline prices turned political. The Iranian unrest against the Khamenei regime is long overdue.
The reports said demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans around the country. It happened a day after the government increased the price of regular gasoline to 15,000 rials ($0.13) a liter from 10,000 rials and rationed it.
State television said police clashed with what it called rioters in some cities and fired teargas to disperse them.
One person was killed and several were wounded in the city of Sirjan in Kerman province on Friday. Angry mobs attacked a fuel storage facility and tried to set it on fire.
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli told state TV that security forces “have so far shown restraint” but will act to restore calm if the demonstrators “damaged public properties”. Given the violent history of Iran against peaceful demonstrators in Syria, the Khamenei regime is more than willing to act violently against its own people.
Videos posted on social media (below) from inside Iran showed protesters setting fire to the Central Bank building and clashing with riot police.
RIOTS IN 40 IRANIAN CITIES
In other videos protesters blocked roads and set fires in the streets in Tehran and some other cities. Some chanted slogans against top officials.
A witness, who asked not to be named, told Reuters by telephone:
People are very angry here in Shiraz (city). I heard gun shots. Hundreds of people are in the streets. They burned a police car this morning.
Protests spread to least 40 cities and towns on Saturday, Iranian media said. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supported the demonstrators, writing on Twitter, “As I said to the people of Iran almost a year and a half ago: The United States is with you”.
Videos on social media showed riot police firing teargas and using clubs to disperse protesters in several cities.
FURTHER SQUEEZE ON LIVING COSTS
Protesters were seeing slower internet speeds and limited access, social media reports said. It is an apparent effort by the authorities to limit communication between demonstrators.
Many people in oil-producing Iran see cheap gasoline as a national right and the price hike sparked worries about a further squeeze on living costs, despite assurances from the Iranian authorities that the revenue raised would be used to help needy families.
People’s struggle to make ends meet has worsened since last year. Partially due to the United States sanctions and partially due to high corruption and mismanagement.
Combined with rising inflation, growing unemployment, a slump in the rial and state corruption, Washington’s policy of “maximum pressure” has further crippled the economy.
Iran’s clerical rulers are anxious to prevent any repeat of unrest in late 2017, when people staged protests in 80 cities and towns over poor living standards, some calling on Shi’ite Muslim clerical leaders to step down. Iranian officials said 22 people died in those protests. The regime usually publishes lower stats for loss of life.
Lawmakers will debate the price hike decision on Sunday, Iranian media reported. They said some were preparing a motion aimed at forcing a revision of the decision.
Iranians mainly rely on cars or taxis for access around cities and towns.
The Iranian regime expected the gasoline price increase to raise around $2.55 billion a year. Meanwhile, the regime leadership live a life of superb luxury as witnessed by the video below.
Reuters contributed to this article.