By Mohammad Mazhari

Iran’s help to Lebanon resembles a slap on Washington’s face: Lebanese researcher

September 1, 2021 - 16:18

TEHRAN - Ali Mourad, a Lebanese political researcher, is of the opinion that Iran’s move to send fuel tankers to Lebanon “resembles a slap on Washington’s face”.

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced on Thursday that a tanker would set off from Iran to bring desperately needed fuel to Lebanon in defiance of U.S. sanctions. Through such a declaration, Nasrallah proved that Hezbollah is the main player in Lebanese politics.

Mourad says the move by Iran is a game-changer that will abort U.S. efforts to halt Iran’s support for Lebanon. 

“They were not ready for receiving such a game-changing move, which will break the U.S. veto on any Iranian help to the Lebanese people and resemble a slap on Washington’s face,” Mourad tells the Tehran Times.

In a report on Monday, Press TV reported that Iran’s first fuel tanker that set sail toward Lebanon two weeks ago has entered the Mediterranean Sea. It said a second ship also begins its journey to assuage the sufferings endured by the Lebanese people under severe fuel shortages and American sanctions.

The Lebanese researcher says fuel shipment was a shock to the U.S. and its lackey in Lebanon.

“Sayed Nasrallah’s declaration regarding Iranian fuel ships put the Americans and their agents at the shock,” Mourad notes.

In recent years, Hezbollah has shown that it can play a key role in geopolitical developments in the Arab world, including Lebanon.

Although pro-West groups in Lebanon immediately slammed the move in their media outlets, they failed to obstruct fuel shipment. 

“Regarding what Washington will do, it was obvious that they didn’t see that happening, thus they reacted in a way that reflected their fear of losing their cards in Lebanon when the U.S. ambassador admitted that Washington was preventing energy projects with Jordan and Egypt through Syria,” Mourad remarks.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: Could you update us about the main reasons for the fuel crisis in Lebanon that has triggered violence and protests?

A: The fuel crisis is due to the acts of the Central Bank governor who is refusing to sign the financial credit necessary to buy fuel. Governor Riad Salame claims since a year ago that the reserves he had are not sufficient to continue covering the financial credit to cover the fuel and goods imports. But Riad Salame was actually doing two things: He was fulfilling a policy that coincides with the American goals, creating pressure on the whole Lebanese population to target popular support for both President Aoun and the Resistance Axis. And secondly, he is benefiting the fuel importing and distributing companies because the majority of those companies are owned by the ruling class that is responsible for the financial crisis. He is trying to benefit them now that the state rentiers have evaporated and they need more assets. Riad Salame is their partner and enabler.

Q: How do you assess Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's move to call for importing fuel from Iran?

A: Of course Sayed Nasrallah’s declaration regarding Iranian fuel ships put the Americans and their agents in shock. They were not ready for receiving such a game-changing move, which will break the U.S. veto on any Iranian help to the Lebanese people and resembles a slap on Washington’s face. U.S. agents in Lebanon immediately attacked the move in their media and press releases but this won’t change anything. Regarding what Washington will do, it was obvious that they didn’t see that happening, thus they reacted in a way that reflected their fear of losing their cards in Lebanon when the U.S. ambassador admitted that Washington was preventing energy projects with Jordan and Egypt through Syria from taking place.

Q: How do you see the repercussions of fuel shipment by Iran to Lebanon? 

A: The U.S.-led coalition in Lebanon is acting hysterically since the declaration. Once they claimed that no Iranian tankers sailed towards Lebanon, or they try to project fear over possible U.S. sanctions on Lebanon when it receives the Iranian fuel. They even tried to spread conspiracy theories that Hezbollah will bring back to Lebanon the fuel smuggled to Syria months ago and then claiming it is the Iranian fuel. The U.S. embassy and its agents in Lebanon can do nothing but screaming, and the most remarkable thing here is that their crowds have been welcoming Sayyed Nasrallah’s declaration regardless of their leaders’ refusal, and that was understandable because the crisis hit the whole population and those crowds are asking: why our leaders don’t bring Saudi or Emirati or American fuel tankers as Hezbollah is doing?

Q: Lebanon faces fuel and electricity shortages. The question is that why are some parties trying to deter Lebanon from trade with Iran?

A: The parties and groups who are trying to hamper any economic trade between Iran and Lebanon are the remnants of the March 14 bloc and some new groups who express the U.S. through the title of NGOs. Washington is investing with those NGOs through funding and training. Of course, those groups are using propaganda tools and tactics to divert and distort facts about the crisis in Lebanon and its roots, as well as attacking the Aoun (FPM) - Hezbollah alliance, falsely promoting the fantasy that this alliance is responsible for the crisis and now taking an “adventure” by importing Iranian goods and products that will put sanctions on Lebanon as if the current situation is not worse than a situation in a U.S. sanctioned state.

Q: How can Hezbollah respond to Israel if the latter targets Iranian tankers on their way to Lebanon? Do you predict a military clash?

A: Of course Sayyed Nasrallah declared an important defying rule of engagement in case of Israeli or U.S. aggression or sabotage of the awaited Iranian fuel ship. When he said the ship is regarded by us as Lebanese property, this means the resistance will retaliate and attack lands occupied by Israel in case of a Zionist attack on the ship. Tel Aviv won’t dare to attack the ship and this puts the Zionist enemy in a dilemma because if it doesn’t attack the ship, the resistance will win popular support even among the rival Lebanese blocs. And if it decides to attack it, the resistance will attack its facilities and bases and infrastructure. In both ways, it is the loser and the resistance is the winner.
 

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