Let’s Talk about Power

October 1, 2021 - 21:13

TEHRAN — With the winter season arriving, the United Kingdom is now struggling with an immense fuel shortage crisis. Long lines are snaking down streets across the UK as drivers struggle to fill up their cars, causing widespread traffic misery and worries over whether the emergency services can do their work.

The UK has put the British army in charge of helping out with the shortage, but very little help has been carried out. The most embarrassing part is that the government is blaming the people for panicking. But how did the crisis start in the first place?

In recent months, many companies have reported shortages, including fast-food chains KFC, McDonald’s, and Nando’s. Supermarket shelves have also run dry. At first, people shrugged off the shortage, as they thought of it as an inconvenience that could hardly shake the economy. 

News from oil giants BP and ExxonMobil that they were having to close some gas stations as a result of a truck driver shortage changed that perception. 

The process of keeping the country’s petrol stations flowing involves the seamless interaction of a number of activities. So when one or more aspects of the process are out of kilter, the whole system can grind to a halt.

Critics say Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also to blame for failing to address the issue of lack of truckers – he has been warned for months that there is a shortage of around 100,000 drivers across the trucking sector overall.

Johnson likes to play down the fact that there is a lack of drivers due to the exodus of Britain from the EU bloc. 

When the country left the economic orbit of the EU at the start of this year, one of the bloc’s main tenets ceased to apply – the freedom of people to move within the UK to find work. With Brexit, tens of thousands of drivers left the UK to go back to their homes in the EU, further pressuring an industry already facing long-term staffing issues.

The coronavirus pandemic and series of lockdowns also played a major part in the matter. Lockdown restrictions led to difficulties in training and testing new home-grown drivers to replace those who left.

In addition, the pandemic accelerated the number of British drivers, many of whom were nearing retirement age, calling it a day. Relatively low pay, changes in the way truck drivers’ incomes are taxed and a paucity of facilities – toilets and showers, for example – have also diminished the job’s appeal to younger workers. In short, it’s been a perfect storm.

The UK is not the first country that faced a fuel crisis this year. Lebanon is also struggling with a fuel crisis for over a year. 

The Lebanese political and economic crisis, which began in late 2019, is the most painful period of instability in Lebanon.

Commodity prices and inflation have skyrocketed, with civil society and economists saying that about half the country's population is now below the poverty line.
Most gas stations are crowded daily, and people wait long hours for petrol and diesel. Some bring gallons with them.

Since the start of the recent economic crisis, the value of the Lebanese national currency has fallen by about 90%, and unemployment has risen sharply until a sanctioned Iran came to the rescue. 

Iran has sent seven fuel tankers to Lebanon, a country that consumes 12 million liters of fuel on a daily basis, at the request of Hezbollah. 

After careful consideration, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, and other high-ranking officials in the movement decided to purchase oil from Iran. 

The Hezbollah chief says after being told of possible sanctions or other measures by the United States that could hurt the government if the tankers docked in Lebanon, it decided to dock the first vessel in neighboring Syria and take the cargo by land across the border with Syria through trucks.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on August 23 that Iran cannot witness the “planned” suffering of the Lebanese. 

“As a country subjected to oppressive U.S. sanctions, we know some countries are addicted to sanctioning others and use their pains for their gains,” he highlighted.

The senior diplomat added that Iran sells oil and fuel upon the request of “its friends and allies.”

“We announce readiness for exporting fuel to Lebanon upon their request,” he emphasized.

A delegation of four U.S. senators said on September 1, that America is looking to help Lebanon overcome fuel shortages that have paralyzed the country. But they warned the import of Iranian oil into the crisis-hit country could have “severely damaging consequences.”

“It is inexcusable that in the middle of this life-threatening crisis, the political leaders in Lebanon have refused to make the tough choices in order to form a government,” Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut told reporters. He said Lebanon needs a government that can negotiate with the International Monetary Fund and starts reforms to reduce corruption that is widespread in the Mediterranean nation, without saying that the United States stalled Lebanon’s request for providing fuel. 

Nasrallah asked Iran for help after Lebanon’s Western and Arab allies neglected Lebanon’s cry for help. 

While many observers in Lebanon and beyond projected a total collapse of order in the Mediterranean Arab country, the Hezbollah secretary-general opened a new pathway for Lebanon to break free from a U.S.-led economic straitjacket.

This isn’t the first time that Iran has shown off its power. In May 2020, Iran sold five shipments of oil to Venezuela despite receiving threats from Washington. The Iranian fuel tankers began arriving in Venezuela under the protection of Venezuelan military forces.

“Venezuela has the right to buy in the world whatever it wants to buy,” Maduro said in a speech back in the time. “Fortunately, Venezuela has more friends than what people can imagine.”

A powerful country is not just powerful in words. It’s the actions that make you powerful. 

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