Hezbollah General Secretary Sayed Hassan Nasrallah.
During a televised speech on 13 September, Secretary General of Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, announced that the first shipment of Iranian fuel will enter Lebanese territory on 16 September.
Nasrallah said the much-needed fuel arrived in Syria’s Baniyas Port on 12 September and that it is currently being unloaded onto tanker trucks which will then take it to the city of Baalbak in Lebanon, where it will be stored.
He thanked Syrian authorities for their help receiving the fuel shipment, and for facilitating its transfer by land, saying: “We were told that the arrival of the vessel here (in Lebanon) would harm the country and we don’t want to harm the country; so we went for another option.”
Nasrallah was referring to severe US sanctions that inhibit Iran from selling its oil and purchasers from buying it. In order to circumvent this unilateral blockade, the Iranian ships were forced to head to Syria to unload the fuel.
The Hezbollah leader went on to say that the delivery of this fuel will prioritize hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, water stations, fire brigades, and the Lebanese Red Cross, among other special needs facilities, saying that “we are ready to give one-month of free fuel to them.”
Nasrallah further emphasized that the purpose of the shipments was not commercial, and that the fuel will be sold “below cost.”
He said a second ship carrying Iranian diesel will arrive in Lebanon in the coming days, while a third ship is currently being loaded with gasoline at an Iranian port. Nasrallah went on to say that there are arrangements for a fourth ship to arrive in October.
Last month, Hezbollah announced that with the help of a number of Lebanese businessmen, an agreement had been reached with Iran to provide cash-strapped Lebanon with fuel as the country is going through a major energy crisis.
Due to fuel shortages, citizens have access to an average of only two hours of electricity per day, while hospitals nationwide have warned of their imminent shutdown.
In response to news of the Iranian fuel shipments, US officials had scrambled to find ways to provide Lebanon with alternative energy options.
But their attempts so far have managed only to secure Iraqi oil that is incompatible with Lebanon’s power grid, and to import gas and electricity from Egypt and Jordan by using Syrian infrastructure, which is in dire need of repair as a result of Western-backed attacks.