On February 22, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) opened lethal fire on Iranian Baluch fuel porters at the border crossing of Saravan, in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan. Dozens of fuel porters were gunned down, including a minor and several elderly citizens, and many were injured.
The crimes ignited a new round of protests in various cities, and many people across the country declared their solidarity with the Baluch protesters. In response to the IRGC’s crimes, outraged people raided and conquered oppressive centers and set some appliances and police vehicles ablaze.
The government dispatched armed forces, tanks, and helicopters to silence upheavals. Furthermore, IRGC forces and intelligence officers affiliated with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) detained hundreds of youths to intimidate the fed-up people.
However, the main question is, why did the IRGC play a leading role in the oppressive operation in this region? And what are the IRGC’s interests in the crackdown on fuel porters?
Admission by MOIS-Controlled Media
After one week of ruthless suppression of impoverished people, Mehr News Agency affiliated with the MOIS shed light on parts of the truth and the IRGC’s economic interests behind the massacre and bloodshed in Saravan. In summary, Mehr pointed to fictional disputes at the highest level.
In its February 28 report, Mehr cited an official of the Counter-Trafficking Headquarters about the IRGC’s oil trade with Pakistan. “Pakistan’s daily need is 5 million liters of gasoline. Based on the Razzaq plan, it was supposed that [President Hassan Rouhani’s administration] deliver this amount of gasoline to IRGC fuel stations. Then the IRGC would be forwarding and selling the fuel to Pakistan. But the administration has yet to do its duty,” said the official.
Notably, based on a collaboration between the IRGC and Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet, the government gave a card to fuel porters who live within 20 kilometers of the border. It was supposed that the government offers a daily fuel quota to porters and gradually removes these mediators. However, impoverished people, who have no alternative business, rejected the Razzaq plan.
“If we did not provide 5 million liters of gasoline for covering Pakistan’s needs, ‘it would be provided through illegal and illicit paths,’” the official added.
IRGC Tries to Gain Total Control of Pakistan’s Fuel Market
Furthermore, the official told Mehr that “sometimes, the [Rouhani] government did not deliver fuel to IRGC stations for ten days. The government’s refusal to deliver fuel sparked conflicts on Pakistani soil, which extended to Iran and resulted in several deaths and injuries.”
Previously, a Baluch activist, who preferred to remain anonymous, revealed that “the IRGC currently controls 70 percent of Iran’s fuel trade with Pakistan. However, it intended to seize the rest 30 percent through Razzaq plan, meaning fuel porters now provide the same amount to Pakistani customers.”
According to activists, the government considered the fuel price as 67,000 rials [$2.68] per liter, which is not profitable for fuel porters due to high costs, inflation, and other barriers.
Iran Circumvents Sanctions
Already, in his lecture, a Baluch Imam had disclosed that the Iranian government exploits gasoline trade on the Iran-Pakistan border crossing to circumvent sanctions.
In other words, the Islamic Republic is illegally smuggling goods, including fuel, while it falsely claims that it is countering illicit transmission of cargoes. In fact, the government, particularly the IRGC, removes other beneficiates to monopolize all illicit transactions in this region.
Therefore, these facts are worth noting:
- Pakistan needs about 5 million liters of gasoline from Iran each day.
- The IRGC unilaterally sells most of this amount and has massive advantages. This terrorist entity also circumvents U.S. oil sanctions and restrictions.
- There are some impoverished citizens who have prevented the IRGC from monopolizing this trade completely. Simultaneously, these fuel porters transfer small amounts of Pakistan’s required fuel to their vehicles.
Notably, these people’s lives are dependent on this insignificant trade because there is neither business, industry, nor agriculture in this area.
The IRGC Fights People Who Have to Struggle to Remain Alive
- To control the remaining 30 percent of the gasoline trade, the IRGC collaborated with the [Rouhani] government. In this respect, Rouhani passed the Razzaqplan, which gives a card only to border residents who live within 20 kilometers of the border. They can receive a daily fuel quota for sale.
According to the Razzaq plan, the IRGC gradually removed or recruited fuel porters, meaning the IRGC would unilaterally control this trade in each scenario.
- This plan practically endangered the Rouhani government’s interests. Moreover, fuel porters rejected the plan and continued their regular business. In response, the IRGC used lethal force against the impoverished fuel carriers to gain the rest of the 30 percent of the gasoline trade’s interests. In this context, outraged protesters targeted IRGC bases in this region to show their hatred of this profiteering entity.
- IRGC commanders planned to line their pockets with Baluch citizens’ flesh and blood . However, their actions resulted in an unprecedented backlash, which displayed society’s volatile conditions that may inflame at any moment.