Lebanon’s Hezbollah agrees to third shipment of Iranian fuel

Hassan Nasrallah agrees to new shipment to ease shortages in the country, but critics warn the move risks sanctions.

A man rides a motorbike past a picture of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, near Sidon, Lebanon
Nasrallah says a third shipment of Iranian fuel has been agreed [File: Ali Hashisho/Reuters]

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said a third shipment of Iranian fuel has been agreed to ease crippling shortages in Lebanon.

“We have agreed to start loading a third vessel,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Friday.

“The coming days will prove those doubtful about the shipments arriving with fuel wrong … and our words will be clear when the first vessel reaches Lebanon.”

On Sunday, Nasrallah, leader of the Iran-backed group, had said the first vessel carrying Iranian fuel for Lebanon had already departed.

Hezbollah’s foes in Lebanon have warned of dire consequences from the purchase, saying it risked sanctions being imposed on a country whose economy has been in meltdown for nearly two years.

Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati said earlier on Friday in an interview with Saudi-owned Al Hadath television he was against anything that would harm Lebanon’s interests but also asked critics of the Iranian fuel deals to provide help so that the country would not have to resort to them.

Nasrallah blamed the country’s economic crisis on what he called an economic siege by the US adding that so-called Caesar sanctions imposed by Washington on Syria had harmed Lebanon.

“Go ahead and give Lebanon an exemption for Iranian gasoline and diesel … go ahead and give Lebanon an exemption from Caesar,” Nasrallah said, addressing the US in his speech.

Lebanon’s worsening fuel shortages reached a crunch point this month, threatening to bring daily life to a halt.

Nasrallah also urged top politicians to stop debating names for the new cabinet and urgently form a government.

“It is high time this debate now ends,” he said.

Lebanon has been run by the caretaker government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who resigned with his cabinet after a massive Beirut port blast ripped through the capital a year ago.

Mikati is the third prime minister-designate since then to attempt to form a government with President Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally.

Mikati said on Friday he still had to overcome major hurdles to forming a new government, amid a deep economic and political crisis that has left the country with a caretaker administration for a year.

He told Al Hadath that the situation in Lebanon remained grave.

Forming a government is a necessary first step to secure international support to help pull Lebanon out of its deepest crisis since its 1975-90 civil war. The currency has collapsed, while medicines and fuel are running out.

Source: Reuters