First modification: 08/19/2021 – 17:36
The leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, confirmed the shipment of a boat with fuel and other materials from Iran to his country “in a matter of hours.” The announcement challenges the US oil embargo on Iran since 2018 for its nuclear activity, at a time when Lebanon is facing a major fuel crisis and a shortage of essential goods.
The situation derived from the economic and fuel crisis in Lebanon has the country on the ropes. For this reason, this Wednesday, August 19, the leader of the political arm of Hezbollah – the Lebanese Shiite Muslim Islamic organization -, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, announced that “in a matter of hours” a ship would set sail from Iran loaded with fuel and other materials that help the nation to combat its economic crisis.
“The first ship to leave Iran will arrive loaded with various materials and will sail in a matter of hours … This ship will be followed by others,” Nasrallah announced in a televised speech on the occasion of the Shiite commemoration of Ashura.
This announcement poses a direct challenge to the sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran, including the oil embargo since 2018, imposed after the Persian country did not respect the maximum uranium production set in the 2015 Nuclear Agreement, abandoned unilaterally by the Donald Trump Administration.
However, to avoid a possible attack by US forces, the religious and political leader warned that the vessel belongs to Lebanese territory.
“The ship, from the moment it sets sail in the next few hours until it enters Mediterranean waters, will be considered Lebanese territory,” said the cleric during his public intervention.
In addition, Nasrallah justified the reception of this shipment given the need that the nation is going through and defended that it is the fault of the “economic war” against Lebanon for the benefit of Israel, pointing directly to the United States.
The head of this armed movement allied to Tehran explained that the “priority” of the cargo is diesel, necessary to run the electric generators in the region.
The risk posed by the action for Lebanon
This move by the Tehran ally Hezbollah group raises many questions. It is not yet known if the Lebanese government was aware of the transaction, how it will arrive in the country or who will bear the costs.
However, it is suspected that the fuel could be refined in Syria to later reach the Lebanese shores, as Hezbollah had previously announced that it was prepared to deal with fuel shortages.
Hezbollah is a very important political and armed force in Lebanon, the only one that has retained its arsenal of weapons after the end of the country’s civil war between 1975 and 1990. Currently, its military power is greater than that of the Lebanese Army.
Regarding the movement, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri argued that it is a strategy that can harm and endanger Lebanon more than help it overcome the crisis.
“I consider that the Iranian ships in Lebanese territory constitute the culminating point of compromising our national sovereignty and I reject the invitation to act as if Lebanon were an Iranian province. (…) We will not, under any circumstances, be a cover for projects that submerge to Lebanon in useless wars, hostile to the Arabs and to the world, “said the politician through social networks, alluding to the fact that the movement could entail sanctions for Lebanon itself.
A country hit by the economic crisis and scarcity
For more than two months, electricity has been reaching Lebanese homes for just a couple of hours a day. In addition, there is a shortage of diesel to run private generators and fuel for cars and other means of transport, a situation that has worsened sharply in the last week after the announcement of the end of fuel subsidies by the Central Bank.
The country bathed by the waters of the Mediterranean also faces a shortage of other basic goods such as medicines. For their part, some world powers have offered to send aid to the nation, but under the condition that a government cabinet is formed that is capable of carrying out all the necessary reforms to alleviate the crisis.
Something complicated after months of attempts to form a coalition government, in a society that is widely fragmented at the political level. The Executive forces accuse Nasrallah of interposing so that the different blocs do not reach a consensus to carry out maneuvers that benefit Hezbollah. For its part, the Muslim organization denies the accusations.
With EFE, Reuters and AFP