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Hezbollah Warns U.S., Israel Not To Stop Iranian Oil To Lebanon

Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, backed by Iran, warned on Thursday the United States and Israel not to try to interfere with a shipment of Iranian fuel oil that is en route to Lebanon.

The vessel carrying fuel oil from Iran is considered Lebanese territory since the moment of departure, said Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, which organized the oil shipment.

"We don't want to get into a challenge with anyone, we don't want to get into a problem with anyone. We want to help our people," Nasrallah said in a televised address, as carried by Reuters.

"I say to the Americans and the Israelis that the boat that will sail within hours from Iran is Lebanese territory," the leader of the Iran-backed movement added.

Nasrallah announced over the weekend that Hezbollah would start imports of gasoline and diesel from Iran to Lebanon amid a severe fuel shortage and an economic crisis in the country.

"I assure you, yes, God willing, we will definitely bring diesel and gasoline from Iran," Nasrallah said on Sunday, noting that the Lebanese government cannot provide the fuel. 

Last week, Lebanon's central bank said that it would end the subsidies for fuel amid a country-wide energy crisis.

Instead, the central bank will extend lines of credit for fuel importers at the current market price—a decision that will increase fuel prices—as much as four-fold—at a time when energy shortages are already rampant in the country.

"Lebanon is a few days away from the social explosion. The Lebanese are facing this dark fate alone," caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said in a speech in early July during a meeting with international organizations and ambassadors.

Earlier in July, the caretaker government in Lebanon had effectively slashed fuel subsidies and raised the prices of gasoline and diesel in the Middle Eastern country, which is reeling from an unprecedented economic crisis.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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