Gas rationing riots in Iran

Gas stations have been burned down in Iran by mobs, all supposedly due to gas rationing and increased prices.

While the price of fuel may be the reason, it certainly seems like there’s more to the story than that. Like, Iran has a gas shortage? Maybe conditions there are so tense that the riot was just looking for a reason to happen? Especially considering that the government has been vicious towards dissenters of late. Andrew Sullivan, a conservative who supports regime change both here and in Iran, has more on both.

  • What little gas that Iran doesn’t export they use the bulk of to create power, don’t they? It is one of the main reasons they want to build nuclear power plants. They would rather export more and make more money to develope the rest of their economy for when “peak oil” becomes “no oil.” Hearing that they may have a current shortage would not surprise me too much. But it would likely be a “self-created” shortage.

  • But gas there is 25 cents a gallon (and subsidized, to be sure), then went up to 33 cents or something. Hardly seems enough to burn down gas stations about.

    It’s also quite possible the US is trying to collapse the Iran government by encouraging riots and chaos.

  • DJ

    That’s a 50% increase. You should have seen the political fallout when bread (subsidized) in Sri Lanka went from 5 cents to 7 cents a loaf– that’s a lot of money when you make $2 a day!

  • The problem with gasoline in Iran, as I understand it, is lack of refining capacity, not lack of raw material.

  • Joe Hartley

    Amplifying a bit on the above comments:

    As DJ points out, it’s extremely important not to view prices in other countries through American eyes. An 8 cent increase would hardly raised anybody’s eyebrows here, but if you’re earning only a few dollars a day, that’s a huge increase in a budget that’s already stretched. THe mullahs have been having cheap oil as a policy to pay off the population and keep them under control. Instead of bread and circuses, it’s cheap transportation. Time was that no flight within Iran cost more than about US $25 despite the huge differences.

    Bob is right that there’s more going on here: the Iranian population is young, relatively well-educated, and not at all happy with the mullahs, who are both medieval and fully as corrupt as any capitalist you’d care to revile. Only Dubya and his idiots could have failed to capitalize on 9/11, where spontaneous demonstrations of sympathy appeared throughout the country, and drove the youngsters back into the nationalistic camp with the “Axis of Evil” speech. Of course, if we hadn’t overthrown Mossadegh in 1953 at the behest of British Petroleum, there actually WOULD be a functioning democracy in the Middle East.

    Sooner or later, the nationalistic ferver will wane, and the mullahs will have the same problem they had in 2001 through 2003, before Bush handed them a security victory on a platter by removing the Taliban and Saddam before bothering to enlist the Iranians. ANd the mullahs know it.

    When you have a corrupt economy, there’s only so much that can be spread. As Eli points out, both Iraq and Iran have infrastructure problems because they don’t have enough capital to maintain a large armed force, pacify the oppressed population, and do investments at the same time. By prohibiting foreign investment, it’s hard to see how they improve things unless they’re willing to clean up the corruption (but the mullahs love their Mercedeses) or cut back on the pacification of the population. The latter seems to be what’s happening, by reducing the subsidies. All in all, it shows the profound siliness of considering a small, poor country like Iran to be a major threat, notwithstanding the inroads that a bungling US foreign policy has graciously given it for free.

  • The real problem for the populace is, I think, the rationing, not the price increase. Most need more gas than the rationing allows, with black market gas already going for $3 a gallon.

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