A fresh wave of protests erupted in Iran over the weekend against the plunging value of the local currency and rising prices, in what some observers and analysts describe as the biggest protest in the capital Tehran since 2012, just before the previous sanctions on Iran were imposed.
After U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran—including on its oil industry and exports—expected to kick in later this year, the value of the Iranian rial has plunged to record lows against the U.S. dollar on the black market.
On Sunday, one U.S. dollar was being offered for as much as 87,000 Iranian rials, compared to around 75,500 rials on Thursday—the previous trading day before the Iranian weekend.
Demand for dollars has been high in recent months among Iranians because they fear that the renewed U.S. sanctions would reduce oil exports and exports of other goods. The plunge of the rial against the dollar has angered Iranians who see prices of imported goods rising.
On Monday, protesters clashed with police in front of the Parliament in Tehran, the Associated Press reports, citing videos posted on social media networks.
According to the BBC, thousands of people took to the streets and shops were shut, while riot police fired tear gas at protesters.
Iran’s economy is in difficulty as U.S. sanctions loom and threaten to reduce part of its oil exports.
Tehran doesn’t see its buyers obtaining waivers from the U.S. sanctions, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in an interview with Bloomberg on Friday.
“I don’t believe they can receive waiver from the United States,” Zanganeh said. “We are going to find some other way,” said the minister, adding that Iran’s oil exports are close to 2.5 million bpd for June.
Most buyers are still buying Iranian oil, “but some of them have difficulty because of the pressure from the United States on bank transfers, transport insurance and so on,” Zanganeh told Bloomberg.
“We are trying to find new customers.”