FILE PHOTO: A man rides a motorcycle in front of a photo of Lebanese Hezbollah leader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, near Sidon, Lebanon July 7, 2020. Reuters / Ali Hashisho
September 16, 2021
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Hezbollah on Thursday began bringing Iranian fuel to Lebanon via Syria, a move the Shia group says is meant to ease a crippling energy crisis, but its opponents have said it would allow the country to face US sanctions. exposes you to risk.
Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV quoted its correspondent as saying that a convoy of about 20 tanker trucks carrying Iranian fuel oil had entered Lebanon. Iran-backed Hezbollah said the fuel-carrying ship docked in Syria on Sunday.
Trucks entered northeastern Lebanon near the village of Al-Ain, where a banner announced that Hezbollah had broken the “siege” on Lebanon.
“Thank you Iran. Thank Assad’s Syria,” declared another banner, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The energy crisis is the result of a financial meltdown that has ravaged Lebanon’s economy since 2019, plunging the currency by nearly 90% and sending more than three quarters of the population into poverty.
Fuel supplies have dried up as Lebanon does not have enough hard currency to cover even critical imports, forcing some to reduce or shut down essential services including hospitals and spark several security incidents.
The decision to import the fuel is an extension of the role played by Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon, where critics have long accused the heavily armed group that fought a war with Israel of acting as a state within a state. .
Hezbollah leader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday that the ship was docked in Syria to avoid harming Lebanon and embarrassing some of its allies, a clear reference to the risk of sanctions.
Washington has reiterated that US sanctions on the sale of Iranian oil remain in place, but has not said whether it is considering Hezbollah’s move against Lebanon.
Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group and targeted it with sanctions.
The United States, a major supplier of humanitarian and military aid to Lebanon, is backing a plan to ease the energy crisis by using Egypt’s natural gas piped through Jordan and Syria. The US ambassador has said that Lebanon does not need Iranian fuel.
Nasrallah has said that a second ship with fuel oil will arrive in the Syrian port of Baniyas in a few days, with a third and fourth, respectively, carrying gasoline and fuel oil, also outstanding.
(Written by Tom Perry; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Toby Chopra)