The Guardian: Iranians set fire to a dozen petrol stations in Tehran in the early hours yesterday, angered by the sudden start of fuel rationing, a step that threatens to further increase the unpopularity of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Guardian
Nasser Karimi in Tehran
Iranians set fire to a dozen petrol stations in Tehran in the early hours yesterday, angered by the sudden start of fuel rationing, a step that threatens to further increase the unpopularity of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
After the violence security was strengthened at several stations, and there was calm as Iranians lined up to fill their tanks under the new restrictions, which limit private drivers to 100 litres (22 gallons) a month.
The government has been warning for weeks that it would start rationing, but the announcement on Tuesday, only three hours before the measure went into effect at midnight, sent Iranians rushing to fill up.
The rationing is part of a government attempt to reduce billions of dollars in subsidies it pays to keep petrol prices low. Iran is one of the world’s biggest oil producers, but has few refineries and imports more than 50% of its petrol needs. The government says money saved from subsidies can go to building refineries, improving public transportation and job creation.
But a rise in petrol prices last month and now the rationing are feeding discontent with Mr Ahmadinejad, who was elected in 2005 on a platform of helping the poor and fixing Iran’s ailing economy.
“This man Ahmadinejad has damaged all things. The timing of the rationing is just one case,” said Reza Khorrami, a teacher who was among those lining up at a Tehran petrol station.
The short notice appeared to be aimed at preventing a rush to hoard petrol.
Yesterday a group of legislators tried to draft a bill for cancelling the rationing, but failed to win majority support.