Iranian officials confirmed this week that they will send more fuel to Lebanon as needed, in spite of U.S. sanctions, to help alleviate Lebanon’s extreme fuel shortage. On Sunday, Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said the first vessel shipping Iranian fuel had already sailed from Iran.
Yet, those who oppose Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group deemed a terrorist organization by the European Union, are concerned about the potential for sanctions to be imposed as a result of the deal.
Lebanon’s economy has already endured exponential decline over the last two years, and would be further exacerbated by sanctions. “We will continue this process as long as Lebanon needs it,” argued Nasrallah in response to opposition. “The aim is to help all Lebanese, [not just] Hezbollah supporters or the Shia,” he added.
The fuel crisis has crippled Lebanon, leading to multiple eruptions of violence and severe power outages. In one case, a struggle over scarce fuel supplies descended into chaos involving guns, knives and a hand grenade, which left three men dead, Al Jazeera reports. Lebanon’s army has recently gone so far as seizing fuel from petrol stations in an effort to curb hoarding amid shortages.
Meanwhile, hospitals across the nation, which rely on private generators for power, may be forced to close on account of diesel scarcity. Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, the consequences of hospital shutdowns will be dire.
Moreover, the national electric company has turned to rolling blackouts to minimize fuel consumption. According to Al Jazeera, it now delivers only one hour of electricity per day to homes and businesses. Lebanon’s economy is collapsing; the price of a gallon of fuel has increased 220 percent in the last year, yet the Lebanese pound has lost more than 90 percent of its value on the black market, and 78 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. “The situation is very hard, and we can’t handle it much longer,” Fadi Abu Shakra, a spokesman for fuel distributors, told a local station.
Source: The OWP