Reports from state media indicated that on Tuesday, the sales of gasoline were disrupted at gas stations across Iran due to a massive cyberattack causing long queues and frustrated citizens. This incident comes just weeks before the anniversary of the major uprising that took place in November 2019.
In Isfahan, a digital traffic billboard read ‘Khamenei, where is our gasoline?’, displaying the increasing public dissatisfaction which has got the Iranian regime officials fearing another uprising is on the horizon.
While there have been many speculations recently that Tehran is going to increase the fuel price, the regime’s Interior Minister, Ahmad Vahidi, rushed to the scene and vehemently denied any attempt to raise the fuel price.
Energy experts in Iran have suggested that the increase of fuel prices was ‘inevitable’ to increase the production capacity of gasoline in the country. On the other hand, they have also previously warned the regime about the likely social consequences of the increased fuel prices.
Speaking to the IMNA news agency on October 26, Energy expert for the regime, Hassan Moradi said, “We have no choice but to relatively increase fuel price to increase the production capacity of gasoline. But to calculate the amount of this price increase, we must thoroughly examine the situation of the society.”
He explained that as the per capita consumption of gasoline in Iran is much higher than in other countries, there was no other choice than to increase the prices for the regime to ‘compensate part of the budget deficit’.
It is worth noting that in recent months, the Iranian regime has shipped tons of fuel to Lebanon to decrease pressure on its terrorist proxy group, Hezbollah, amid Lebanon’s financial and fuel crisis and people’s protests Hezbollah’s devastating role in their country.
The last time a sudden increase in fuel prices took place in November 2019, large protests erupted and spread across the country within hours, with protesters calling for regime change and attacking the regime’s acts of repression and corruption. The situation was eventually suppressed by the regime but at the cost of the lives of over 1,500 protesters, who were brutally shot down on the streets. Thousands more of the protesters were arrested or severely injured at the hands of the regime’s security forces.
The extent of the uprising shook the regime to its core and threatened to topple them. The threat of an event on this scale taking place again is what terrified regime officials during the recent disruptions at gas stations across the country and prompted them to react rapidly.
Farhikhtegan newspaper belonging to Velayati, Khamenei’s advisor, wrote: “On Tuesday, the multi-hour closure of the country’s gas stations was an accident that could cause public discontent and protests on the eve of the anniversary of November 2019.
“At the same time, some dissident media try to instill this line of thought to the people that the government is incapable of supplying fuel and intends to make energy carriers expensive in order to bring people to the streets by creating public discontent.” (Farhikhtegan Newspaper, October 27, 2021)
The Arman daily warned the regime that, “All or a significant part of the price increase is due to mismanagement. Since people can see that after three decades, they must pay the costs of the officials’ recklessness, and since inequalities have increased, they can no longer tolerate the situation. Thus, it is not a good time to increase the fuel price.”