Iran protests break out across country amid skyrocketing food prices

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Protests erupted in Iran on Thursday after the government cut food subsidies, sending prices skyrocketing as authorities prepare for more unrest in the coming weeks.

Videos shared on social media show protesters marching through Dezful and Mahshahr in southwestern Khezestan province, shouting “Death to Khamenei! Death to Raisi!” scan. referring to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has pledged to create jobs, lift sanctions and save the economy.

But talks to reinvigorate Iran’s ruptured nuclear deal with world powers have stalled. Iranian families have seen their purchasing power decline rapidly.

Iranian state media have not addressed the protests publicly, but they have been covered by Iran’s National Council of Resistance, an opposition group. Footage shared by the NCRI shows protesters setting fire to a Basij military base in Jooneghan, a town in the central district of Jooneghan province.

“Occasionally we see protests like this in Iran. Each time it’s under a different premise – the price of eggs, the price of gas, the price of bread, but the underlining message supported by the slogans spread throughout the world.” demonstrations is the same; they are protesting the whole of a brutal regime,” Lisa Daftari, Iran expert and editor-in-chief of the Foreign Desk, said in a statement.

“It is also evidenced by the fact that these protests are no longer confined to Tehran, the capital and other urban areas. We are seeing protests across the country, in urban and rural areas, and due to Iran’s very large and diverse population.”

EXPECT A NUCLEAR DOMINO EFFECT IN THE MIDDLE EAST IF IRAN GAINS WEAPONS, EXPERTS SAY

Iran abruptly increased prices by as much as 300% on Thursday for a variety of commodities, such as cooking oil, chicken, eggs and milk. Dozens of alarmed Iranians waited in long lines to pick up bundles of food across the country and clear supermarket shelves in the hours before the price hike took effect.

Bakery worker Mojtaba Motallebi put bread packages on the shelves at a bakery in Tehran, Iran, on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.

Bakery worker Mojtaba Motallebi put bread packages on the shelves at a bakery in Tehran, Iran, on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Panicked shoppers raided stores and stuffed basic goods into large plastic bags, according to images shared on social media. Lines in Tehran squirmed out of supermarkets late Wednesday. On Thursday, the Iranian currency fell to a low of 300,000 rial per dollar.

The scenes not only revealed deep fear gripping the country and frustration among Iran’s leaders, but also underlined the dizzying economic and political challenges they face.

US FOR WAR-CAUSED FOOD INSECURITY AT 2 UN EVENTS

Food prices in the Middle East have skyrocketed as a result of the global supply chain and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both of which export many essential commodities. Iran imports half of its cooking oil from Ukraine, where many farmers have been kept off the fields by fighting.

A customer buys bread at a bakery in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, May 11, 2022.

A customer buys bread at a bakery in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Although Iran produces about half of its own wheat, it imports much of the rest from Russia. The war has increased inflationary pressures.

The government is trying to act quickly to ease the pain. Authorities have promised to pay each Iranian citizen about $14 a month to offset the price hikes.

As outrage over rising inflation mounts online, Iranian authorities appear to be closing in on the worst. Internet monitoring group NetBlocks.org told The Associated Press that it was monitoring Internet disruptions on a “national scale” that are “likely to affect the public’s ability to communicate.”

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Article 19, a global research organization fighting censorship, reported on Thursday that authorities appeared to have shut down nearly all internet connections in cities in Khuzestan province.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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