The first trucks carrying the Hezbollah-promised Iranian fuel entered Lebanon by way of Syria on Thursday.
The group stated that a convoy of around 20 tanker trucks carrying the gas oil had entered the eastern Bekaa valley, where it will be stored prior to its distribution.
The ship carrying the fuel docked in a Syrian port on Sunday, and was transported to Lebanon by land. On Monday, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said the ship docked in Syria to avoid “harming Lebanon and to avoid embarrassing some of its allies,” which was considered a reference to the risk of sanctions.
The move comes in light of Lebanon’s ongoing fuel and energy crisis in the midst of the ongoing financial and economic collapse, largely caused by years of political corruption and the mismanagement of public funds.
Many see the decision to import fuel into Lebanon by way of Iran as an expansion of the country’s role in Lebanon.
The US designates Hezbollah, long integrated into the sectarian political structure of Lebanon, as a terrorist group that has been targeted with sanctions. Washington has imposed sanctions on Iranian oil sales, but it has not yet decided whether it will take action against Lebanon over the import of fuel from Iran.
The US, in part, has backed a joint plan with Egypt, Jordan and Syria to import fuel into Lebanon via the transnational Arab pipeline. The pipeline sustained damage during the Syrian war, and will require months of repair.
The US ambassador previously said Lebanon “does not need Iranian fuel,” even in light of ongoing shortages.
Fuel is running scarce due to a lack of hard currencies used to cover import costs, forcing businesses, residents, private generator owners, and even some hospitals to cut back on electricity usage.
A second ship of Iranian fuel is expected to arrive in Syria in a matter of days, with a third and fourth to be expected as well.