Iranians are dealing with the rapidly rising price and short supply of chicken. Anchor Aaron Schachter talks to the BBC’s Siavash Ardalan about the new poverty line, known in Iran as the “chicken line”.
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Aaron Schachter: I’m Aaron Schachter. This is The World. A simmering political issue on the streets of Iran is the rising costs of chicken. Demand went up because of the rising cost of red meat and prices have at least doubled in the last year. International sanctions imposed on Iran are being blamed but so is government mismanagement. The BBC’s Siavash Ardalan says the government has been trying to keep chicken affordable.
Siavash Ardalan: What the government has done is it’s tried it’s best to offer chicken at competitive prices as a government subsidized price which is almost half as the price you would get in the black market. So this has created long queues of expectant people before centers where they sell the chicken.
Schachter: Have there been riots because of this problem? Certainly the government seems to think that could be a possibility.
Ardalan: There was one disturbance yesterday in one of the cities, small cities, in Iran’s eastern province. In terms of security concerns, I think the government so far has handled it well but yesterday would represent a breakdown in that effort.
Schachter: The problem is sanctions, right? It’s harder for people to get the food needed to feed the chickens? Is that what’s happening now?
Ardalan: Yes. It’s making it more difficult for the ships to arrive and unload. But at the same time you have to also consider the mismanagement as a factor as well. If things were managed better, if there was less corruption, it would be easier to get around the difficulties associated with the sanctions.
Schachter: Do people blame the United States for what’s happening or do they blame the government?
Ardalan: People who generally hostile to the United States and it’s policies and are more supportive of the regime usually point to outside factors but many of the people usually among the middle class blame the government actually. But also there’s, you also have to differentiate between the regime and the government itself. Many people might be loyal to the regime but nevertheless blame the government for mismanaging this particular issue.
Schachter: Chicken is a big part of the Iranian diet, is it not?
Ardalan: Increasingly yes but it is a big part even before red meat was difficult to buy. Chicken was a big part and it’s even a bigger part now, yes.
Schachter: Yeah, I was there for a few weeks and it was all kabob and chicken.
Ardalan: Yes. Iranian diet is very meat based.
Schachter: The situation has led to a lot of jokes about people being above or below the chicken line. It’s the new poverty line. So it’s kind of funny and it’s kind of not.
Ardalan: Yes, Iranian’s have a good predisposition to making humor out of every difficult situation. What you just referred to the chicken line is one of those jokes and the other one is the fact that neither the Green Revolution nor all the different opposition elements could overthrow the government but one day what could turn out to overthrow this regime could be the chicken.
Schachter: We would call this in America Chicken Gate.
Ardalan: We would call it the Chicken Awakening.
Schachter: The BBC’s Siavash Ardalan on what Iran’s media are calling the chicken crisis.
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