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First Iranian Fuel Shipment Arrives in Lebanon

By Orkhan Jalilov September 18, 2021

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Hezbollah flags fly above a convoy of tanker trucks carrying Iranian fuel oil arriving at al-Ain village in northeastern Lebanon, September 16, 2021. / Reuters

The first lorries carrying Iranian fuel have arrived in Lebanon, the country facing a severe fuel crisis.

“The first batch of the Iranian fuel shipment to Lebanon has arrived in the country. The vessel carrying fuel docked in Syria’s Banyas port on Sunday. The consignment was then sent by tankers from there,” Iran’s English-language television news network, Press TV, reported on September 16. The website also aired footage of the vehicles driving down roads. 

The first shipments of the fuel, carried by two convoys totaling 40 trucks, arrived in Lebanon on Thursday.

The first of four Iranian fuel tankers docked in Syria’s Baniyas port earlier this week. More Iranian fuel shipments destined for Lebanon are expected in the coming days. The fuel was brought in by Hezbollah, a Lebanese movement widely viewed as Tehran’s proxy in the country. The delivery violates Washington’s sanctions imposed on Iran after former US President Donald Trump pulled out of a nuclear deal between Iran and other world powers in May 2018.

The US previously warned that any Iranian ship bringing fuel to Lebanon would equate to “providing Hezbollah with funds.” The US, the UK, and Germany are among an increasing number of countries that recognize Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.

Lebanon’s energy crisis is a result of an economic meltdown that has devastated the country since 2019. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said earlier this week that a month’s supply of the Iranian fuel would be donated to institutions such as public hospitals, the Lebanese Red Cross, Civil Defence forces, and orphanages.

On September 15, in a meeting with Abdallah Safieddin, the Hezbollah movement’s Tehran envoy, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, stressed the need for widening relations with Lebanon. He also said Iran was ready to extend assistance on all fronts to meet the needs of its people.

For his turn, Safieddin praised Iran for “supporting Lebanon during the hardships” and “especially for selling the needed fuel to the people of Lebanon.”

Despite the US warnings, Iran sent five tankers carrying fuel to crisis-stricken Venezuela in May 2020, whose oil industries are subjected to US sanctions.

Iranian lorries also continue to illegally deliver fuel to the Azerbaijani territories, where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily deployed. Deliveries are carried out through the Lachin corridor despite a note of protest issued by the Azerbaijani government to the Iranian ambassador in mid-August.

According to the Azerbaijani media, 58 Iranian lorries, mostly loaded with fuel and lubricants, entered the Azerbaijani city of Khankendi between August 11 and September 10.

On September 12, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement that it had sent letters to the Russian Defense Ministry and the Command of Peacekeeping Forces “regarding the illegal entry of vehicles belonging to other countries into the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, where peacekeepers of the Russian Federation are temporarily deployed.”

These cases contradict a tripartite statement signed on November 10 by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia, which ended the 44-day war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.