Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah insisted on Wednesday that Lebanon should be “negotiating with Iran to buy gasoline and diesel with Lebanese currency if Lebanon’s shortages persist” in a statement regarded as defiance towards the Lebanese state and the US.
During a televised speech, he has stated that: “Shipments of fuel will arrive at Beirut’s port, and let the state prevent their access to Lebanon.”
Nasrallah’s announcement came just hours after news that the Iraqi government had agreed to increase a prior oil supply guarantee to Lebanon, from 500,000 to 1 million tons. His remarks sparked a range of responses from the Lebanese people.
“Nasrallah used a high tone when he talked about bringing fuel from Iran,” MP Bilal Abdallah told Arab News. “The Lebanese are suffering from shortages in drugs, food and fuel. Their suffering should not be used to establish stronger bridges with Iran.”
He said such matters “should be discussed within the state, as the Iraqis did. When things happen outside the framework of the state and parliament, I am not sure they can be beneficial for the country.”
During his speech, Nasrallah had attempted to show sympathy for the Lebanese public by saying that “humiliating the people is unacceptable.”
Mark Ayoub, an expert on energy affairs in Lebanon and the Middle East, told Arab News: “In the absence of political solutions to the current crisis, nobody can oppose Lebanon resorting to foreign countries to secure fuel and overcome this difficult period.”
Nasrallah’s statement comes amid a political crisis where a permanent government has not been formed thus far.
The previous Lebanese administration resigned in August of last year in the wake of public outrage over an explosion at Beirut’s port on August 4th, which destroyed a large section of the city. President Michel Aoun and former Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri have been unable to agree on the formation of a new government, as they disagree on who should name the two Christian ministers.