Houston Chronicle – 51 minutes ago
By NASSER KARIMI AP Writer © 2007 AP TEHRAN, Iran – Iranians smashed shop windows and set fire to a dozen gas stations in the capital Wednesday, angered by the sudden start of a fuel rationing system that threatens to further increase the unpopularity of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Police were sent to guard some stations after the violence, and there was calm during the day as motorists lined up to fill their tanks under the new restrictions.
The government had been warning for weeks that rationing was coming, but the announcement of its start just three hours before the plan took effect at midnight Tuesday startled people and sent them rushing to get one last fill-up.
The rationing is part of a government attempt to reduce the $10 billion it spends each year to import fuel that is then sold to Iranian drivers at less than cost, to keep prices low.
Iran is one of the world’s biggest oil producers, but it doesn’t have enough refineries, so it must import more than 50 percent of the gasoline its people use. The government says money saved from subsidies can go to building refineries, improving public transit and creating jobs.
But a hike in gas prices last month and now the rationing are feeding discontent with Ahmadinejad, who was elected in 2005 on a platform of helping the poor and fixing Iran’s ailing economy. His failure to do so has sparked widespread criticism.
“This man, Ahmadinejad, has damaged all things. The timing of the rationing is just one case,” said Reza Khorrami, a 27-year-old teacher who was among those lined up at one Tehran gas station late Tuesday.
Petrol stations torched in Iran after Ahmadinejad rations fuel Times Online
Iran fuel rations spark anger, pump stations burn Reuters AlertNet
Spiegel Online – Los Angeles Times – Telegraph.co.uk – Guardian Unlimited
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This ain’t Hell, but you can see it from here writes about the nuclear problem.
Also take a look at A second Hand Conjecture, specially about the unrest against the Mullahs.
Other news from Iran:
- Take a look at “Couple tortured for being gay” and “Interview with Fakhravar“, one of the most prominent Iranian dissidents, from City Boy Blog.
- Ahmadinejad’s political consultant is his butcher. Doesn’t surprise me really…
- “Iran: End child executions” and “Iranian troops cross into Southern Iraq and attack British troops“. Also “Iran wages war on “inmoral” cell phone messages.
- Also read Iran cracks down on dissent by NYT. h/t Free and Secular Iran.
The country’s police chief boasted that 150,000 people — a number far larger than usual — were detained in the annual spring sweep against any clothing considered not Islamic. More than 30 women’s rights advocates were arrested in one day in March, according to Human Rights Watch, five of whom have since been sentenced to prison terms of up to four years. They were charged with endangering national security for organizing an Internet campaign to collect more than a million signatures supporting the removal of all laws that discriminate against women.
Eight student leaders at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University, the site of one of the few public protests against Mr. Ahmadinejad, disappeared into Evin Prison starting in early May. Student newspapers had published articles suggesting that no humans were infallible, including the Prophet Muhammad and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The National Security Council sent a stern three-page warning to all the country’s newspaper editors detailing banned topics, including the rise in gasoline prices or other economic woes like possible new international sanctions, negotiations with the United States over the future of Iraq, civil society movements and the Iranian-American arrests.