Islam News- Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Thursday a ship carrying fuel oil will sail from Iran to Lebanon within hours, warning the United States and Israel against trying to intercept it.
Former Prime Minister Saad said the move by his arch rival risked sanctions being imposed on Lebanon, whose economy has been in meltdown for nearly two years.
“I announce that our first ship that will be launched from Iran carrying the necessary products is ready … and will sail [for Lebanon] within hours,” Nasrallah said in a televised address.
“We don’t want to challenge anyone … but I tell the Americans and Israelis: The fuel ship sailing from Iran is Lebanese territory, make no mistake about that.”
“God willing, this ship and others will arrive safely,” Nasrallah added in his speech on the occasion of Ashoura. Hezbollah has repeatedly said in the past it would respond in kind to any Israeli attack in Lebanese territory — something it did as recently as earlier this month.
He said a first ship would bring fuel for “hospitals, manufacturers of medicine and food, as well as bakeries and private generators.”
He said more vessels would follow to address shortages that have ground to a halt in Lebanon.
Nasrallah did not specify where or how the shipment would reach Lebanon and be offloaded.
Iran’s semi-official Nournews said the shipments were all purchased by a group of Lebanese Shiite businessmen.
“Based on information we have received the Iranian fuel shipments that … [Hezbollah’s leader Hassan] Nasrallah mentioned today were all bought by a group of Lebanese Shiite businessmen,” Nournews reported.
Hariri, in a statement, criticized Nasrallah for declaring the ships Lebanese territory, rejecting what he described as Lebanon being treated as an Iranian province, and said the country could suffer the fate of heavily sanctioned Venezuela.
“Iranian vessels will carry additional dangers and sanctions for the Lebanese,” he said in a statement released by his office.
Samir Geagea, a Christian politician and staunch Hezbollah opponent, said that after usurping government authorities in security and military affairs, it was now taking over economic decision-making to the detriment of the Lebanese people.
Lebanese energy expert Laury Haytayan said major questions hung over the shipment, including the amount to be delivered, who would pay, where the boat would dock and whether the details of the transaction had been disclosed to the Lebanese government.
“It is a possibility that these tankers will go to Syria and shipments will be refined there,” Haytayan told AFP.
“But this is all prohibited by sanctions, it’s not that easy, and since Hezbollah is doing it in public, there is a lot of danger on Lebanon. We are in danger of being sanctioned, or being attacked.”
A shipping source told The Daily Star that it would take the ship around 11 days to sail from Iran to Lebanon through the Suez Canal
Since February this year, Iran and Israel have been engaged in a “shadow war” in which vessels linked to each nation have come under attack in waters around the Gulf in tit-for-tat exchanges.
Iran is under strict US sanctions and is banned from exporting its oil.
Hezbollah has previously announced it was working on bringing fuel from Iran as Lebanon struggles with crippling power and gasoline shortages.
Source: The Daily Star