The Iraqi government unanimously approved doubling the amount of crude oil it will supply to Lebanon in an effort to send urgent relief to the collapsing country. But the terrorist group Hezbollah said it will try to get fuel from Iran instead.
The Iraqi Council of Ministers voted to increase its supply of crude oil to Lebanon from the 500,000 tons it promised earlier this year to 1 million tons. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi expressed
his concern for Lebanese citizens and rallied the ministers to vote for increased support.
Lebanon’s House Speaker Nabih Berri said on Wednesday that the supply can meet half of the country’s annual needs.
“On my behalf, and on the behalf of Lebanon’s parliament and the Lebanese people, I extend my heartfelt thanks to Iraqi president, government, parliament and people,” Berri said.
Lebanon has been suffering from a severe shortage of U.S. currency which has hampered its ability to import fuel.
But on Tuesday, Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of the terrorist group Hezbollah, said Iran had also offered to export oil to Lebanon in the Lebanese currency.
In his speech on the anniversary of the establishment of the Al-Manar TV channel, Nasrallah called for a boycott of America and, instead, urged Lebanon to look towards Russia, China and Iran.
He warned that if the Lebanese population needs to continue lining up at gas stations, Hezbollah would unilaterally import oil in Lebanese pounds and that the authorities would not be able to prevent them from doing so.
The situation is so severe that, in addition to long lines for fuel, citizens are forced to walk back and forth to gas stations, buying fuel to carry to their vehicles.
The crisis also threatens to plunge Lebanon into darkness due to the lack of fuel at the power stations. There are three ships carrying fuel that are waiting for the Central Bank to transfer funds so they can unload their cargo. The current supply at the power stations is only sufficient for nine days.
A week ago, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights quoted sources confirming the existence of a “significant escalation in the smuggling of fuels from Lebanon and trafficking in Syria, by Hezbollah,” as well as Syrian forces affiliated with the brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In a report last year, Wim Zwijnenburg posted an observation on his Bellingcat website that, “Armed groups also capitalized on these practices for income generation and smuggling networks to finance their war machines, making these refineries a common business in Syria.”
The situation is driving citizens toward reliance on the black market.
Last week, Hassan Diab, Lebanese prime minister in the caretaker government, delivered a desperate appeal to “brothers” to help wrest Lebanon from the brink of collapse.