Iran's Guards warn protesters of 'decisive' action if unrest continues

People stop their cars in a highway to show their protest for increased gas price in Tehran, Iran. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Dubai, United Arab Emirates Nov 18, 2019, 07.27 PM (IST)

Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards warned anti-government protesters of "decisive" action if unrest over gasoline price hikes does not cease, state television reported on Monday.

The warning appeared to hint at a looming crackdown on protests that flared nationwide in response to an official announcement on Friday of gasoline rationing and price hikes of at least 50 per cent.

"If necessary we will take decisive and revolutionary action against any continued moves to disturb the people's peace and security," the Guards said in a statement carried by state media.

Protests erupted in Iran on Friday, hours after it was announced the price of petrol would rise to 15,000 rials a litre (12 US cents) from 10,000 for the first 60 litres and to 30,000 rials for any extra fuel bought after that each month.

It is a rise many consumers can ill afford, given that Iran's economy has been battered since May last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions.

The rial has plummeted, inflation is running at more than 40 per cent and the International Monetary Fund expects Iran's economy to contract by 9.5 per cent this year and stagnate in 2020.

The petrol plan is expected to generate 300 trillion rials ($2.55 billion) per annum, from which the government says about 60 million needy would receive payments.

Story highlights

The warning appeared to hint at a looming crackdown on protests that flared nationwide in response to an official announcement on Friday of gasoline rationing and price hikes of at least 50 per cent.