By Mohsen Zanganeh

Failed attempt of engineering a ‘crisis’ in Iran 

December 3, 2019

TEHRAN - For over a year now, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been grappling with severe economic crisis following the unilateral withdrawal of the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal and re-imposition of crippling economic sanctions. The failure of the European Union to uphold its commitments under the deal have made matters worse.

In the wake of U.S. ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, more than 1.5 million barrel oil per day have been lost in the international market. Iranian oil exports have dwindled from 2 million barrels to 500,000 barrels per day. Besides, in recent months, it has dropped as low as 200,000 barrels per day, a cause of grave concern. 

The Iranian government’s budget is heavily dependent on oil revenues and low oil prices in the international market and a decrease in exports has widened government deficit amounting to nearly two-thirds of the yearly $45 billion budget. It has pushed inflation more than 40% over the past year, putting a heavy burden on the common man.

The hike in gasoline price by 200 percent came without a warning. People were evidently taken aback. They feared high inflation and worsening economic situation. The sudden and unanticipated announcement led to frustration among people, especially those in the lower-middle class domain. At the same time, we have to look at the larger picture too. 

It should be noted that oil prices in Iran are one of the lowest in the world. Besides, far lower than the neighboring countries, which has prompted smuggling of Iranian oil more than 10 million liters on daily basis. On the other hand, oil consumption has skyrocketed and reached 96 million liters per day which has raised concerns that Iran will become an importer of oil in the next year if immediate and concrete actions are not taken.

Pertinently, another reason behind the hike in oil prices are the draconian U.S. sanctions which have primarily affected the lower-middle class of the society and the government sought to provide some relief to them through this measure, according to people privy to the development. 

However, it would be safe to say that the move was not implemented and executed in a proper way. The government announced the hike without taking people into confidence and without informing them about the objectives of the move, which forced them into streets.
But, on the other side, the United States and Israel have quite clearly and loudly announced their ‘regime change’ agenda which is trending on Twitter. They saw this as an opportunity to push their own agenda of stoking the flames of unrest in Iran. The way peaceful demonstrations changed into riots showed how the foreign aggressors are trying to implement their sinister agenda. Turkish President Tayyab Erdogan had warned about this ‘spring’ few weeks ago, which started from Iraq and then to spread to Lebanon and now reaching Iran. 

The demonstrators, constituting mostly unruly mobs and hooligans, targeted at least 500 places in different cities and set ablaze public institutions, banks, gas stations, passages and even cultural sites such as libraries, mosques, seminaries especially in small towns and on city outskirts. It has resulted in millions of dollars’ worth damages to the country and dented the already fledgling economic system.

It is important to mention that the hooligans ran amok within hours of the violent demonstrations. They had already identified their targets and went about their tasks systematically with support from outside. The situation was brought under control soon and main ‘ringleaders’ were arrested. 

According to Iranian official news agency, the ringleaders were affiliated with the former Pahlavi regime and intelligence agencies found that there were links with western intelligence. The majority of them were found to be non-Iranians.

Following the unrest, the Iranian government completely shut down the Internet, blocking communication with the outside world and prevented the use of social media and cyberspace to control human cyberspace activities and to manage the simmering crisis.

The internet shutdown was an attempt to keep protesters from organizing online protests and to prevent the misuse of internet by the outside agencies who seek instability in the country.

According to the Le Monde newspaper, this move by Iran to completely shut off the Internet while all current activities in the country, including banking, transportation, stock exchange, etc., were in full swing has been a huge success in the field of information technology. 

Meanwhile, millions of people around different cities poured into the streets in different cities in support of the government last Monday. Ironically, majority of these people dislike government policies. However, they know that these violent protests would serve no good to their cause and will add more problems to the basket. And, interestingly, none of the international media outlets deemed it important enough to cover it.



 

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