Beirut, fuel crisis: Hezbollah bypasses sanctions and imports Iranian oil
by Fady Noun

A convoy of dozens of tanker trucks crossed the Syrian border at Hermel yesterday morning. The pro-Iranian Shiite movement celebrated the entry as a victory. The crude oil will be distributed to hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, water plants and the Red Cross. Experts speak of "state conquest" by Hezbollah. 



Beirut (AsiaNews) - A convoy of dozens of tanker trucks loaded with Iranian fuel crossed the Syrian border yesterday morning and entered Lebanon, in an attempt to alleviate - albeit partially - the serious energy crisis that has long affected the country. The Shiite Hezbollah movement (and ally of the Islamic Republic) organized the shipment, amidst controversy and threats from some governments of the Western bloc, because it would constitute a violation of international sanctions against Tehran. 

The trucks entered from Syria using an illegal border crossing in the eastern region of Hermel. The leadership of the extremist group celebrated the arrival of the supplies as a victory, claiming the success of the operation capable of bypassing the punitive measures on the diplomatic and commercial level introduced three years ago by the Trump administration towards Tehran and its allies. 

The first Iranian tanker arrived on September 12 in the Syrian port of Baniyas and the fuel was unloaded in special tanks, then transferred by land to Lebanon. In a televised intervention, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah clarified that the crude oil did not arrive directly in the country in order not to embarrass the authorities and risk sanctions. 

So far, there have been no official reactions or comments from Lebanese or U.S. officials, while Lebanese economic affairs expert Laury Haytayan calls for "not forgetting this day" because it marks Hezbollah's conquest of the state. The Shiite movement's television channel al-Manar spoke of a convoy of at least "20 tanker trucks of 50 thousand liters each" with the aim of "breaking the American siege."

The tankers crossed the central province of Homs and then headed to the Bekaa Valley, in Lebanon, where they were greeted by residents gathered on the sides of the main road, decorated with yellow Hezbollah flags and images of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "This is a humanitarian aid that will meet the needs of the population," said Jawad, a 50-year-old resident of Hermel among the crowd rushed to welcome the convoy. Hezbollah, he adds, "does not replace the State, it is a temporary measure until it can carry out its tasks". 

Earlier this week, Nasrallah had explained that the diesel will be donated for a period of one month to public institutions including hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, water plants and the Red Cross. He then added that others will be able to obtain low-cost fuel including private hospitals, medicine factories, bakeries and cooperatives that sell food products. Finally, a second ship with Iranian oil will arrive in the Syrian port of Baniyas in a few days, then two more loaded with gasoline and fuel oil within the next few weeks.