Rassegna Esteri

Hezbollah to the rescue again

Tehran Times – Not for the first time, Lebanon faces a crisis, Hezbollah has helped guide the country out of the predicament. The movement is known for resisting, defending, liberating, and preserving Lebanon’s territorial integrity from Israeli occupation and aggression. 

In 2000, Israel withdrew its forces from Lebanon after a hard-fought resistance by Hezbollah. During Israel’s war on Lebanon in 2006, Hezbollah took the regime by surprise and emerged victorious. 

That victory created an equation whereby Israel never attacked Lebanon again and the people of the country benefited from living in safety and security until today. 

This extremely significant victory also overshadowed Hezbollah’s other activities from the international arena. These include its welfare programs, the educational facilities it runs for orphans for example, different types of assistance and help for the needy, the elderly and many other aspects in this regard.  

Over the past year or two, the country has faced multiple domestic crises. One of the biggest challenges Lebanon faces today is the unprecedented energy crisis that is literally suffocating a nation struggling to keep the light on. 

This crisis is not just ongoing but getting worse and worse. It is already on the verge of reaching a point where hospitals, shops, bakeries, etc.. cannot function because of a lack of fuel. Lebanon was heading towards the unknown. Here, Hezbollah once again, devised a plan to alleviate the crisis, while preventing any foreign interference or trouble for Lebanon. 

After careful consideration, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, and other high-ranking officials in the movement decided to purchase oil from the Islamic Republic of Iran and bring the oil tankers to Lebanon itself. 

The Hezbollah chief says after being told of possible sanctions or other measures by the United States, that could hurt the government if the tankers docked in Lebanon; it decided to dock the first vessel in neighboring Syria and take the cargo by land across Lebanese-Syrian border crossing. 

Nasrallah has extended his gratitude to the Syrian government for helping coordinate the logistics of importing this vital commodity. He also thanked the Syrian government for understanding the situation of Lebanon and the dangers of Lebanon and Syria’s enemies in trying to harm Damascus for the assistance it provided.

On Sunday, the vessel docked at a Syrian port, and the process of unloading the oil and dispatching it to Lebanon is expected to be completed by around Thursday. Hezbollah says this is the first of many ships to bring oil from Iran to Lebanon.

Nasrallah noted whoever issued negative statements about this operation should learn a lesson. According to Nasrallah, the negative statements were the following and he noted how they ended up in dustbin of history. 

One: The announcement [importing oil from Iran] was just a PR stunt. However, the oil has arrived. Two: Those who said the operation will fail because Iran itself has problems exporting gasoline and diesel. Three: Those who stated Israel will prevent the tanker from reaching Lebanon or Syria, especially because Hezbollah announced the move publicly on the day of Ashura. It wasn’t a secret operation.

Nasrallah says it’s unfortunate that some had hoped Israel would prevent the ship from reaching Lebanon. He highlighted that the 2006 war which created a security equation with Israel is what prevented the regime from stopping the fuel from arriving. This is despite the fact that Tel Aviv is very well aware the arrival of the fuel would increase Hezbollah’s popularity even more, something Israel has, for decades, tried to prevent.

Four: Those who said America will prevent this operation. Nasrallah noted the U.S. knows any action would lead to a reaction “from a certain party”.

The Hezbollah chief says America only knows sanctions, tried to pressure Lebanese officials and when that did not work, the U.S. embassy in Beirut presented an alternative plan. The “U.S. embassy in Beirut plan” had already been widely ridiculed among Lebanese commentators and analysts. 

Those who said the import of oil would cause problems for the new government and this never happened. Five: Finally, those who said this was a sectarian move, and the energy would only be distributed to Hezbollah strongholds in Southern Lebanon. Nasrallah says the oil would be sent to every region of Lebanon. In the upcoming days, the second ship will dock in Syria and will also contain diesel.

A third ship has been loaded with gasoline and the paperwork has been completed for it to sail. The fourth tanker will contain diesel. Nasrallah says the fourth ship will contain diesel because it will arrive at a time when some areas of Lebanon get cold and more diesel is needed than gasoline. 

The Hezbollah chief has reiterated the movement is not after trade and profit or competing with energy companies. The initiative is simply adding to a product short in supply. 

Hezbollah is now preparing to work on distributing the first shipment which contains the diesel. Nasrallah says the resistance movement has studied the distribution process from a humanitarian point of view and came up with the following.

A months’ worth of supply will be offered, free of charge, to government-run hospitals, centers who care for the elderly and vulnerable, every facility that cares for orphans, water facilities in poorer provinces, fire stations, the Lebanese Red Cross. 

The reality of this humanitarian mission cannot be emphasized enough when Hezbollah says it is offering the diesel to the above free of charge. The second list will be sold, but also in terms of priority, to those that need the energy most and at a reasonable price whereby other energy supplier’s businesses are not effected. 

Private hospitals, pharmaceutical manufacturers, mills, bakeries selling bread, companies purchasing, storing and selling vital food products, food manufacturers, agricultural companies. Among those also considered high-priority, that will be offered the diesel, are electricity companies who provide generators to help people with power outages. 

According to the Hezbollah Chief, the oil will not be sold to individuals, but he did leave this door open when the suffering among the priority lists is gone. 

A Lebanese company has been chosen to assist and Hezbollah says this company has been chosen because it is suffering under U.S. sanctions. Nasrallah added this commodity is for all Lebanese, regardless of faith or political allegiance. It will be sent to every province in the country. 

Every effort will be done to prevent the oil from entering the black market “because the black market has already profited significantly”. Hezbollah says this operation will hopefully break the black market, which is selling oil at unreasonable prices and hurting ordinary Lebanese waiting in line for hours. 

Hezbollah says it will not consider the import costs of the oil tankers when it sells the oil. The movement says it will bear responsibility for these costs and says it doesn’t want to make a profit. The Hezbollah Chief says the movement wants this initiative to be considered as a gift to Lebanese people from the Islamic Republic of Iran and from Hezbollah. Nasrallah says Hezbollah won’t use the dollar to sell any of the oil imports. Any fuel sold will be done using the Lebanese Lira. 

Sayyed Nasrallah also says Hezbollah could have imported a flotilla of oil tankers and not begin with one ship. He pointed out this would have led to extensive media speculation about the whereabouts of the ships and when they will arrive; something that would have boosted Hezbollah’s popularity. 

The Hezbollah chief says “we could have done that with the first tanker”. However, the moment chose to keep a low media profile because it didn’t want want to frighten the Lebanese people. Especially when there are officials and enemies scaremongering the public. He says the goal is easing the suffering of the people, serving the Lebanese “nothing more, nothing less”.

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