Iranians protest petrol price hike

Sparked by a drastic increase in the price of petrol, the streets of Iran's cities have been rocked by protests since last week. The government had decided to abolish the state subsidies that had kept petrol prices low. What's behind the protests?

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Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

The plan is to discredit Rouhani

Rouhani's adversaries are behind the protests, Tygodnik Powszeczny surmises:

“The Iranian parliamentary elections take place in February. Although this doesn't mean much in the Mullah Republic, it is a sort of referendum indicating what direction the ayatollahs will be taking. Perhaps that was what Rouhani's enemies, the turbaned 'hawks', wanted: to discredit him in the eyes of his countrymen in the run-up to the elections and at the same time press ahead with price hikes that they can blame him for.”

Milliyet (TR) /

US wants to weaken the regime

Washington is behind the unrest, columnist Verda Özer writes in Milliyet:

“The US isn't the target of the protests either in Iraq or in Iran. But that doesn't mean the US isn't playing a role! It's no coincidence that the Trump administration is putting out statements in support of the demonstrations. A trustworthy source in Tehran told me that there's more than a conspiracy theory behind reports that the US has been planning to organise opposition groups for the past two years. Iranians of Azeri and Kurdish origin in particular are to be recruited to this end, according to my source. But the goal isn't to topple the regime but rather weaken it, he said. Isn't that also what the sanctions are supposed to achieve?” (RU) /

Will provincial Revolutionary Guards stand firm?

The protests bear the hallmarks of an urban revolution, journalist Yegor Sedov writes in a Facebook post republished in

“There's no stopping their victory, that's clear form the social-demographic situation. The only question is when it will come about. ... Iran today is an urban society that neither can nor wants to live under spiritual and moral tutelage. ... And impoverishment is the spark that has ignited this society. However, backing the regime are forces that were recruited in the provinces. Will the auxiliaries and Revolutionary Guards defend their masters to the bitter end? ... Some will, certainly. But just how many do this will determine the outcome of the current situation.”

The Economist (GB) /

Price of fuel no joking matter for Iranians

The regime in Tehran has hit the people of the country where it hurts, The Economist comments:

“The savings would be distributed as financial aid to 18m poor households, said officials. But the inflationary effects of the price rise risk wiping out most of the benefit. Many fear that growing transport costs will push up the price of groceries. Inflation is already running at 40 percent. ... Over 20 Iranians were killed during demonstrations two years ago after the government increased the price of eggs. Petrol is a far more serious matter. Iranians treat its low cost as a birthright. It is cheaper than mineral water.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

US sanctions stifling the economy

Gazeta Wyborcza sees one clear reason for the country's difficulties:

“Iran is one of the world's biggest oil producers. But because of the Trump administration's sanctions (by means of which he wanted to force the leaders in Tehran to renegotiate the nuclear agreement and stop expanding their influence in the entire region) it is becoming increasingly difficult for the country to find buyers. The sanctions are stifling the Iranian economy, they have scared away investors, accelerated inflation and plunged the Iranians into poverty.”

Gazete Duvar (TR) /

Many domestic reasons for the frustration

There are many causes for the protests in Iran, Duvar puts in:

“Even if the Americans crank up the pressure as high as they can in a bid to topple the regime, there are also numerous non-economic reasons for the protests. ... The price for being active in the opposition is high. Politicians who go beyond the limits set by the system are either put under house arrest or sent to prison. In Tehran, a 'Torture Museum' about the practices of the Shah's Savak (political police) attracts visitors, but this chapter still hasn't ended in the country's prisons. ... If you have enemies like the US and Israel, it's easy to hold 'foreign forces' responsible for everything that goes wrong. But bad governance, incompetence, corruption and exploitation are the fundamental problems of the system.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Protests won't topple the regime

The protests of the Iranian people won't help the progressive forces in Iran's society, Der Standard predicts:

“Politically, the escalation could put an early end to the era of pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani, whose term would normally run until 2021 - to the benefit of the hardliners. The images being broadcast from many Iranian cities have the Iran-hawks in Washington already believing that their dream of a regime change in Tehran is becoming reality. ... Far more likely, however, is a new wave of repression, which also stands to have a negative impact on attempts to bring about a détente in the region.”