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Iranian Oil Shipment to Lebanon: A Hezbollah Ploy that Stumbled at First Hurdle

Iranian Oil Shipment to Lebanon: A Hezbollah Ploy that Stumbled at First Hurdle

Wednesday, 3 November, 2021 - 07:45
Tankers carrying Iranian fuel arrive from Syria at al-Ain in Hermel in east Lebanon's Bekaa Valley on September 16, 2021. (AFP)

A few months after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed to bring in Iranian oil shipments to Lebanon, it turned out that the pledge was nothing more than a PR stunt by the party.

Nasrallah spoke of four shipments that Iran will send to Lebanon, but only one has arrived and it is probably the last. Nasrallah pledged that the shipments would resolve the fuel crisis in Lebanon, and yet it still persists and the cost of fuel and gasoline is skyrocketing.

Rather than resolving the crisis, the shipment has become a source of income for the party, which has hiked its cost 100 percent after the state lifted fuel subsidies. Obviously, the party does not pay customs fees or taxes to the state for the shipment because it is not being brought in through official channels.

Moreover, complaints have been made about the quality of the Iranian fuel oil, known as mazout, that is suitable for use at bakeries, not for electricity generators.

Ahmed, a resident of the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahieh in Beirut’s southern suburbs, said the Iranian mazout was not suitable for the generator used at his apartment building.

In fact, the mazout led to the generator’s malfunction that cost 200 dollars to repair, he complained.

This has prompted other locals to hesitate in purchasing the mazout and raised questions about its quality, since it is not subject to necessary tests to check if it meets the required standards.

More complaints were made after it was realized that the Iranian mazout is of the red diesel kind, not green diesel. Lebanon stopped importing red diesel in 2018 and shifted to the green variety in a move that was seen as win for environmentalists because red diesel is more polluting.

Former official at the energy ministry Ghassan Baydoun told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Iranian oil is not subject to tests and in all likelihood, the Iranians are sending poor quality diesel to Lebanon.

Explaining the difference between red and green diesel, he said the first has an advantage in that it takes longer to burn, but it produces heavy smoke, a foul smell and is bad for the environment.

Mustaqbal movement MP and member of the parliamentary public works, transportation, energy and water committee, Samir al-Jisr told Asharq Al-Awsat that since Iranian oil is not being tested, its negative impact on the environment cannot be assessed.

“The more important point is that we have reached this stage because the previous government failed in providing solutions to the fuel and mazout shortages,” he added.

Over the summer, Lebanon endured a severe fuel shortage that impacted all aspects of life and all sectors, especially hospitals and bakeries. It has also led to ongoing power cuts, which last more than 20 hours a day, because the official state electricity company is unable to secure fuel.

Jisr added: “Iran is not a charity, it thinks of its interests above all else. The Iranians will stop sending Hezbollah mazout once Lebanon begins securing it.”

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