Tehran is ready to ship more fuel to Lebanon, according to Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh, who expressed the willingness of the Islamic republic to alleviate the “suffering of the Lebanese people”.
“We sell our oil and its products based on our own decisions and the needs of our friends. Iran is ready to send fuel again to Lebanon if needed,” Khatibzadeh said.
Lebanon has been suffering fuel shortages for weeks caused by the country’s two-year-long economic crisis which has been exacerbated by political turmoil, a failing government, the raging coronavirus pandemic and a massive blast that took place in Beirut’s port last year.
The government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati has been unsuccessful so far in resolving the
fuel shortage problem
caused by petroleum smuggling, hoarding of fuel, and Beirut’s inability to buy more because of the failing economy and lack of funds. In addition, despite continuing protests over shortages, the government chose to end subsidies for fuel products prompting a 70 percent rise in petroleum prices on 22 August which triggered further public backlash.
REUTERS / REUTERS TV
Reuters reported last Thursday that Hezbollah, a powerful political group and militant force in Lebanon, volunteered to help with the fuel shortages by striking a deal with Iran to start fuel shipments for Lebanon. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said on 22 August that the first vessel carrying Iranian fuel had already docked and that more ships
were already on their way
. Nasrallah did not clarify when they will arrive.
Despite essentially trying to fix the shortcomings of Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s cabinet, Nasrallah claims to have no ambition to replace the government, which his organisation has long wanted to be a part of.
“We are not taking the place of the state, nor are we an alternative to companies that import fuel,” Nasrallah said.
REUTERS / MOHAMED AZAKIR
Opponents of the group expressed strong concerns that the fuel shipments from Iran might excite the attention of the US Treasury prompting Washington to impose sanctions on the already suffering Lebanese economy for buying petrol from the Islamic Republic. The US has so far not issued any comment about such plans or remarked on Iran’s fuel shipments to Lebanon.
At the same time, the US claimed to have started talks with Egypt and Jordan on how the two countries could help their neighbour overcome its energy problems. However, no progress has so far been reported on these talks.