On August 19, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah announced that the first of several fuel tankers will sail from Iran to Lebanon within hours, warning the US and Israel against targeting it.
The leader made the announcement during a speech marking the tenth day of the holy Islamic month of Muharram in Beirut’s southern suburb.
“Our first ship has completed all arrangements and will sail within hours from Iran to Lebanon with the blessing of Imam Hussein [a grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad],” Nasrallah said. “This ship will be followed by other ships, but we gave priority to diesel on the first ship because it is a top priority and is linked to people’s lives.”
This month, Lebanon was hit by an unprecedented fuel crisis with the Central Bank incapable of financing any more fuel shipments. Many of the country’s vital sectors, including hospitals, are currently suffering from a severe shortage of fuel. Electricity is rarely available in most areas.
Nasrallah warned the US and Israel that from the first moment the tanker sails from Iran, Hezbollah will consider it “Lebanese territory”. The leader meant that his group will respond to any attack on the tanker as it responds to any attack on Lebanese territory.
“God willing, this ship and others will arrive safely, we don’t want confrontation with anyone we are only after helping our people… We reject to be humiliated in any military, political or economic war, we refuse the humiliation of our people, let no one dare to challenge us,” the leader said.
The leader went on to thank Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi for their “permanent support” for Lebanon.
Israel, which has been locked in a covert naval war with Iran, will not likely target the tankers heading to Lebanon. Earlier this month, Hezbollah demonstrated its willingness to respond to any Israeli attack. Tel Aviv will not likely take this risk.
Iranian-supplied fuel will not only end Lebanon’s fuel crisis, but it will also expand the influence of Hezbollah in the country like never before.
Fearing an Iranian “economic take-over” in Lebanon, the US responded swiftly to Nasrallah’s announcement. A few hours after the leader’s speech, US ambassador in Beirut Dorothy C. Shea informed President Michel Aoun that Washington will be supporting Lebanon with Egyptian gas.
Nevertheless, the US plan came at a heavy cost. The Egyptian gas will be pumped to Lebanon via a line that passes through Syria, another ally of Iran. Damascus is posed to benefit from the plan which defines the US own sanctions. It appease that the US can’t simply score a clear win in the Middle East no matter how hard or long it tries to.
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