While the Obama Administration may think that a gasoline embargo, even a partial one, would pressure the Iranian regime to suspend its nuclear activities, Tehran may be hoping for just that sanction to help it with one of its longtime goals: reducing gasoline consumption. Indeed, the Iranian government, which has been subsidizing pump prices for years and keeping them well below the international market price (at a huge burden to the national budget), would love the U.S. to take the political hit for helping to end the subsidies.
Former President Mohammad Khatami stated that his greatest economic failure during his tenure was not reducing the massive subsidies the Iranian government spends to keep gas prices low. Every year, his government had to draw millions of dollars from Iran’s special “rainy day” oil revenue reserve fund in order to pay out the subsidies. By 2003, the leaders today associated with the ongoing Green Movement opposition — Khatami, Mehdi Karroubi and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani — all supported rationing gasoline in order to reduce domestic consumption and government expenditure. [continued…]
Conservative rivals of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran have continued to challenge his drive to consolidate power, appointing a committee to supervise investigations into the unrest that swept the nation after he claimed a landslide victory in the disputed presidential election in June, political analysts said.
On Saturday, a day before Mr. Ahmadinejad stepped before a hostile Parliament to defend his 21 nominees for the cabinet — one of the many internal fights he is confronting — the chief of the judiciary, Sadeq Larijani, announced the appointment of a panel to oversee investigations by allies of the president into the postelection unrest.
Mr. Larijani, a rival of the president, said the committee was told “to ensure that the defendants’ rights are reserved and that they are treated properly,” according to the semi-official Fars news service, offering a not-too-subtle vote of no confidence in the president’s handling of events. [continued…]