The port of Bandar Abbas is one of Iran’s major shipping hubs, as well as a big naval base in the Straits of Hormuz, and the site of a big refinery. It is now in chaos. Thousands of trucks, many of them loaded with imported foodstuffs, commercial goods of all description, and even oil products, have blocked the city’s roads, effectively ending all movement in and around the port. The drivers simply shut down their rigs, took the coils out of the engines, and walked away. On the water, there’s a similar shutdown of the hundreds of small boats and ferries that usually carry thousands of people each day to the nearby islands as well as to Dubai. They have clogged the harbor, and nothing is moving.
This is the result of the Iranian regime’s cancellation of energy subsidies, proudly announced by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday. One of the subsidies was on diesel fuel, which has now become eight or nine times as expensive as it used to be, and the drivers can’t survive the cost, nor can the ferry companies. So they went on strike.
It is hard to get details and there are of course many rumors. It seems certain that the regime dispatched some ten thousand Revolutionary Guards to “establish order,” but it’s the wrong remedy. Even the toughest of them can’t convince a truck to start itself, or a ferry to get out of the way. The Deputy Minister of Transportation arrived late this afternoon and met with the leaders of the drivers and ferry pilots, offering to let them raise their prices, although not nearly enough to compensate for the blow of the canceled subsidies. Government officials were overheard arguing with the Guards, who seemed sympathetic to the workers. Not a good sign for the regime.