BEIRUT (Dispatches) — The Hezbollah resistance movement trucked more than a million gallons of Iranian diesel fuel into Lebanon from Syria on Thursday, with Lebanese celebrating the move as a way of spiting the United States while bringing much-needed aid to a country nearly paralyzed by fuel shortages.
With Lebanon suffering one of the worst economic collapses in modern history, Hezbollah stepped in where the Lebanese government and its Western backers had failed.
People lined roads in northeastern Lebanon as dozens of tanker trucks arrived. They waved Hezbollah flags, distributed sweets, blasted heroic anthems and fired into the air in celebration.
The fuel delivery — which a Hezbollah official said was the first installment of more than 13 million gallons — underscored the severity of Lebanon’s crisis, as well as the government’s failure to address it. Unable to secure help from elsewhere, it has turned to traditional friends of hard times, Syria and Iran.
The move appeared to violate American sanctions involving the purchase of Iranian oil, but it was unclear Thursday whether the United States would press the issue. Hezbollah is already subject to American sanctions despite being part of Lebanon’s government.
The American Embassy in Beirut declined to comment on Thursday. But when Hezbollah announced last month that fuel was on the way from Iran, the American ambassador played down any threat of punitive measures.
“I don’t think anyone is going to fall on their sword if someone’s able to get fuel into hospitals that need it,” the ambassador, Dorothy Shea, told Al Arabiya English.
The occupying regime of Israel won’t move to stop Iran shipments of fuel to Lebanon either, according to a senior military official and a television report on Thursday.
While the Zionist regime has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria to shore up terrorists, Channel 12 reported on Thursday night that Israel had decided to avoid intervening.
Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has made it clear that the movement would consider any shipments heading for Lebanon as the Lebanese territory.
The fuel arrived as Lebanon struggles through what the World Bank has called one of the world’s worst economic meltdowns since the mid-1800s. Since the fall of 2019, the national currency has lost 90 percent of its value amid U.S. sanctions, and prices for many goods have tripled.
Fuel shortages have caused widespread electricity cuts and left many Lebanese waiting in long lines to fill up their cars.
The shipment was the first tranche of 13.2 million gallons an Iranian ship delivered to the port of Baniyas, Syria, this week, Ahmed Raya, a Hezbollah media official, said. The rest will take several days to offload and transport to Lebanon.
Nasrallah said the fuel has been paid for by Lebanese businessmen and that most of it would be donated to institutions that include government hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, the Lebanese Red Cross and organizations involved in water distribution.
Cut-rate fuel will also be sold to private hospitals, medicine factories, bakeries, supermarkets and private electricity providers, he said.
“Our aim is not trade or profit,” Nasrallah said in a speech on Tuesday. “Our aim is to alleviate the suffering of the people.”
He also said three more Iranian ships, one carrying gasoline and two carrying diesel, were en route to Syria.
Lebanese figures said the arrival of the convoy on Thursday had “broken the American siege”.
“The Islamic Republic, while itself suffering from the cruel U.S. sanctions, took a courageous, brotherly and humane position to stand by the Lebanese people, who are going through the most difficult living conditions and
unprecedented problems, and tried to alleviate the suffering of our people,” Lebanon’s Union of Muslim Ulama said in a statement on Thursday.
“The fuel delivery proved that U.S. sanctions can neither impact the Lebanese resistance [Hezbollah] nor the Islamic Republic of Iran. It showed that Iran and the resistance have jointly taken the decision to alleviate the sufferings of the Lebanese nation,” Islamic Jihad leader Ahmad al-Mudallal said.
“Iran’s courageous decision to send a fuel vessel to Lebanon revealed that Israel cannot do anything, especially as Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had warned against any attack on the Iranian ship,” he added.
“The Lebanese nation has humiliated and disappointed its enemies, and revealed that their attempts and money laundering bids would not yield anything other than their regret,” Iraq’s Nujaba spokesman Nasr al-Shammari tweeted
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has once again proved that it is a strong and honest ally. Isn’t this an example of God Almighty’s saying that the Party of God is victorious?” he noted.