The sanctions that Donald Trump slapped on Iran when he withdrew from the nuclear deal appear to be working as planned.
Protests erupted in Iran after the government announced it was reducing fuel subsidies by 50 percent and instituting a rationing program. Two people were killed as the demonstrations got out of control in two cities.
The authorities say they want to free up money to help the poor.
Iran is already suffering economically due to stiff sanctions imposed by the US after Washington decided to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
One person was killed during protests in the central city of Sirjan. State news agency Irna said there were clashes with police when protesters attacked a fuel storage warehouse and tried to set fire to it.
Several more people were injured.
A protester also died in the city of Behbahan.
Other cities were also affected including the capital, Tehran, Kermanshah, Isfahan, Tabriz, Karadj, Shiraz, Yazd, Boushehr and Sari.
In several cities, dozens of angry motorists blocked roads by turning off car engines or abandoning vehicles in traffic.
The reason for the rationing and cut in subsidies is simple. U.S. sanctions are impoverishing the people and the government is being forced to give cash payments to the poor. How long that will keep them from taking to the streets is unknown but with a 25 percent unemployment rate among younger Iranians and food prices skyrocketing, it probably won’t be long.
Under the new measures, each motorist is allowed to buy 60 litres (13 gallons) of petrol a month at 15,000 rials ($0.13; £0.10) a litre. Each additional litre then costs 30,000 rials.
Previously, drivers were allowed up to 250 litres at 10,000 rials per litre, AP reports.
The revenues gained from removing subsidies on petrol will be used for cash payments to low-income households, the government says.
The head of the Iranian Planning and Budget Organisation, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, said that from this month, 18 million families would get an extra cash allowance as a result of the price increase.
President Hassan Rouhani claims that “75% of Iranians were currently ‘under pressure’ and the extra revenues from the petrol price hike would go to them and not the treasury.” That’s about 60 million citizens who need government assistance.
The oil industry is broken, the economy is dead in the water, inflation is at 30 percent and rising, there’s little food, and little hope for younger Iranians. These demonstrations could easily become a referendum on the incompetent and corrupt government currently in power. That’s what happened in neighboring Iraq and Lebanon. And it wouldn’t take much to start a revolution in the streets in Iran.