Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah claims group subsidised $10 million of fuel in Lebanon

Fuel from Iran was transported by lorries through Syria in a bid to evade US sanctions

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaks via video link, during a rally marking Hezbollah Martyrs Day, in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: AP
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The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah has claimed the group spent $10 million dollars to provide affordable fuel in the country since September, as severe fuel shortages continue.

Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech that the Iran-backed group gave about $2.6 million worth of fuel free of charge to municipalities, NGOs and public hospitals while another $7.5 million had been sold at heavily subsidised rates.

In September, Hezbollah’s attempt to circumvent US sanctions and bring in fuel from Iran drew international scrutiny, as Iranian tankers docked in the Syrian port of Baniyas, before the fuel was transported by lorries overland through Syria and into Lebanon.

Nasrallah said the group would continue to bring fuel in, with another Iranian tanker set to arrive at Baniyas in the coming days. He said the group would prioritise those living at high-altitude as the winter approaches.

Hundreds of Hezbollah supporters greeted the lorries’ arrival with celebratory gunfire, while claiming the convoy had broken a US-engineered siege of Lebanon.

At the heart of the crisis is the central bank’s inability to supply foreign currency to pay for fuel imports, which Lebanon’s power plants are reliant on.

One of the first moves of the new government of prime minister Najib Mikati made was to cut subsidies — for decades Lebanon had some of the cheapest fuel in the world, despite not being an oil-producing nation.

Before the economic crash, which began to unfold in 2019, blanket subsidies on fuel and other goods were costing Lebanon about $7 billion per year.

In October, the country was plunged into two brief nationwide blackouts as its main power stations went offline due to fuel shortages.

The energy crisis has prompted the US to throw its weight behind an alternative plan to import gas from Egypt via Jordan and Syria.

Updated: November 28, 2021, 10:52 AM