Iranians torch gas stations after surprise rationing announcement; Update: Iran blames U.S. for torchings

Hope springs eternal for the revolution that never comes but without which peace in the Middle East is impossible. Especially among righty bloggers: I’ve been reading and writing blogs for five years and every time there’s a convulsion of violence in Iran there’s an equal and opposite, and understandable, convulsion of is-this-it optimism within the ‘sphere.

This probably isn’t it but anything that involves Iranians calling for Ahmadinejad to be killed is all to the good. The lesson of the day — if you’re going to start rationing gas, you’d better give people more than two hours’ notice.

Windows were smashed and stones thrown at the stations, and there was traffic chaos as motorists queued to buy fuel…

The BBC Tehran correspondent Frances Harrison says Iran is trying to rein in fuel consumption over fears of possible UN sanctions over its nuclear programme.

Iran fears the West could impose sanctions on its petrol imports and cripple its economy…

There is anger and frustration the government did not give people more notice. Some MPs have called for an end to the rationing and parliament may postpone its summer recess to deal with the crisis.

“Guns, fireworks, tanks, [President] Ahmadinejad should be killed,” chanted angry youths, throwing stones at police.

More from the Guardian:

“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 queuing at one Tehran petrol station last night.

Pajamas has cell phone video of one gas station burning. It’s worth revisiting these two posts, one about estimates that Iran’s oil industry will collapse within 10 years and the other (by See-Dub) about what sorts of strategic advantages that gives us now. Prescient money quote: “As for the consequences in Iraq, Iran might have better things to worry about when the gasoline riots are right on top of their bunkers.”

Update: The rioters are American spies, naturally, says an Iranian spokesman. He promises the rationing will go on — sort of:

Deputy parliament speaker Javad Bahonar told MPs that oil minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh will shortly unveil a plan to sell petrol at market prices to private citizens who need to buy more than the 100 litres per month they are allowed under the government’s newly introduced rationing. Bahonar however declined to state what the commercial price of fuel would be.

According to the Beeb, the actual cost of a gallon is about five times the subsidized price. That price? 40 cents.

Update: Hope springs eternal at the Times of London, too.

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David Strom 3:21 PM on March 24, 2023