THE IRANIAN government will offer direct cash handouts to the people in the country to offset a decision to raise the price of flour which has led to a steep increase in the price of wheat-based food.
Iran’s agriculture minister Javad Sadati Nejad said on Wednesday that direct cash handouts will be meant to compensate the rising costs of buying pasta, confectionary as well as some unsubsidised types of bread for the Iranian households.
Sadati Nejad told the state TV that the Iranian government had decided to raise the price of flour to prevent trafficking to neighbouring countries.
He said flour trafficking from Iran had surged in the wake of a military conflict between Russia and Ukraine that has led to a crisis in international grain markets.
The minister said that flour prices in neighbouring countries are more than 15 times the subsidised price inside Iran.
He even claimed that one of Iran’s neighbours is counting on smuggled wheat from Iran to overcome a shortage of around three million metric tons estimated for this year.
Iran has been paying direct cash handouts to households since November 2019 when a former administration announced fuel price hikes of up to 300%.
That comes on top of a separate cash subsidy being paid since a decade ago to compensate for utility price hikes.
Reports in the local media earlier this week suggested that pasta prices in Iran had increased by nearly three times in the wake of government’s decision to remove the subsidy for industrial users of flour.
Other reports said that price of baguette and confectionary items had also increased by nearly 300% after the government announced flour price hike.
- A US-based political commentator and journalist says Washington is seeking to prolong the war in Ukraine in a bid to ‘weaken’ its arch foe Russia.
In an interview with Press TV, Patrick Lawrence said recent statements by senior US officials confirm that the ‘larger objective’ in the former Soviet republic is to ‘weaken Russia’ and ‘to break it’.
‘There is no question that the US intends to prolong this war more or less indefinitely,” he said while referring to the recent unannounced visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Kiev.
Lawrence said the senior US government official’s visit to Ukraine came as Western arms shipments to the conflict-marred country and extreme animosity toward Russia have become ‘highly popular’ in the US.
‘Pelosi’s visit is meant in part to gather support ahead of the midterm elections here, which the Democrats are expected to lose quite dramatically,’ the US-based analyst noted. ‘They have little to show voters on the domestic side: A war, in this way, is timely and useful.’
He further said that US foreign policy is ‘very frequently’ and ‘most of the time’ determined by the country’s domestic politics.
Pelosi made a surprise visit to Kiev over the weekend to meet Ukraine’s embattled President Volodymyr Zelensky.
She is the highest-ranking American politician to visit the country since the start of the Russian military operation on February 24.
Her visit is seen as the latest show of American support for Zelensky against Russia, and another provocation for Moscow to expand its operations in the country.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accuses Russia of being a ‘bully’.
Lawrence said ‘a new world order’ was in the making’, adding that Moscow and Beijing ‘made this very clear’ in the February 4 joint statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, which was issued on the eve of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
‘I think it is essential to understand the Ukraine crisis in this context. We have an imperial power aggressing in the name of its claim to global ‘leadership’, meaning hegemony, and it is very clear that it will not stop until it is forced to stop,’ he told Press TV in the interview.
Lawrence noted that new world orders ‘might in some cases come peacefully, with imagination and wisdom’, but very often they are bound to ‘arrive violently’, with history as a testament.
‘It is unfortunate, but this is why I consider the Russian intervention in Ukraine ‘regrettable but necessary’. Once we see the conflict in this larger context, this conclusion seems to me beyond dispute,’ he further added.
Putin and Xi in their February 4 statement said the world was going through ‘momentous changes’, and humanity was ‘entering a new era of rapid development and profound transformation’.
The statement listed ‘multi-polarity’ as the first of the ‘momentous changes’ of the ‘new era’.
In the statement, the two leaders expressed their desire for the role of the United Nations in a world order not led by a hegemonic power that asserts its standards and poses ‘serious threats to global and regional peace and stability and undermines the stability of the world order’.
‘Certain States’ attempts to impose their own democratic standards on other countries, to monopolise the right to assess the level of compliance with democratic criteria, to draw dividing lines based on the grounds of ideology, including by establishing exclusive blocs and alliances of convenience, prove to be nothing but flouting of democracy and go against the spirit and true values of democracy,’ the statement read.
‘Such attempts at hegemony pose serious threats to global and regional peace and stability and undermine the stability of the world order.’
- CIA Director William Burns had an unannounced meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last month, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The visit, which took place in mid-April in the Saudi Arabia port city Jeddah, came as the administration of President Joe Biden pushes to repair relations with Riyadh.
Although details of what the two discussed were not available, recent sources of US-Saudi tension include oil production, the Ukraine conflict, the Iran nuclear deal and the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
‘It was a good conversation, better tone than prior US government engagements,’ one American official said of the meeting with Prince Mohammed, who runs Saudi Arabia’s daily affairs on behalf of his 86-year-old father, King Salman.
Several US officials have visited the kingdom in the past year in a bid to mend relations, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia have hit their lowest in decades over Riyadh’s reluctance to increase oil production to bring down gasoline prices in the global market.
Burns met the Saudi Prince with the Washington-Riyadh relationship at its lowest point in decades, with then presidential candidate Biden notably saying in 2019 that the kingdom should be treated like a pariah over human-rights issues such as the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
‘We were going to, in fact, make them pay the price, and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are,’ Biden said during a Democratic presidential debate.
According to a secret US intelligence assessment released last year by Biden, Prince Mohammed approved an operation to capture or kill Khashoggi, which resulted in his 2018 murder and dismemberment inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Saudi Arabia initially issued conflicting stories about Khashoggi’s disappearance, but eventually claimed that the Washington Post columnist had been killed in a ‘rogue’ operation.
Prince Mohammed has denied involvement in the murder and told Biden’s national security adviser in September that he never wanted to discuss the matter again, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The leaders of Saudi Arabia and the UAE reportedly decline calls with US President Joe Biden as Washington tries to ease surging oil prices.
After Russia began a military operation in Ukraine on 24 February, the Biden administration banned imports of Russian oil and gas and urged Riyadh to boost production and bring down prices. The request was, however, turned down by the Saudi regime.