Will Iranian gas resolve gas disaster in Lebanon?

BEIRUT — A convoy of 80 vans, every carrying 50,000 liters (roughly 13,210 gallons) of Iranian gas, entered the Bekaa Valley area in jap Lebanon from Syria on Sept. 16, Hezbollah media official within the Bekaa Valley Ahmed Raya informed Al-Monitor. 

“The first Iranian tanker that docked in Syria and is being transported to Lebanon holds about 50 million liters of fuel, requiring about 1,000 tankers to be transported to Lebanon. This will be done over the course of seven days, when the second ship will have arrived after taking the same unloading and transporting route,” he mentioned.

“As soon as the tankers arrived [in Lebanon], Al-Amana fuel company launched preparations to begin distributing diesel within two days to all Lebanese regions, according to the mechanism announced by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah,” Raya mentioned.

At the Ashura commemoration Aug. 19, Nasrallah had introduced that an Iranian ship loaded with gas was set to sail from Iran because the nation faces a worsening gas disaster.

In a televised speech Sept. 13, Nasrallah introduced the arrival of the first Iranian oil ship, destined for Lebanon, to Baniyas port in Syria on Sept. 12, to be adopted by three different ships.

He mentioned that the cargo was unloaded in Syria in order to not embarrass the Lebanese state and that the Syrian management welcomed the ship, saved its cargo in Baniyas and secured a lot of tankers to move it to Lebanon.

Asked in regards to the particulars of the cargo, Raya mentioned, “It will not be distributed to a specific category of Lebanese. The first part will be donated to government hospitals, retirement homes, orphanages, special needs centers, water institutions, poor municipalities, the Civil Defense and the Lebanese Red Cross.”

Nasrallah had listed these establishments in his speech.

“Diesel fuel will be secured at an appropriate price for private hospitals, pharmaceutical factories, bakeries, cooperatives that sell food products, food industry laboratories, agricultural equipment and machinery,” Raya famous.

He added that for the second, diesel is not going to be offered to people and that Hezbollah will rely for its distribution on Al-Amana firm, which is sanctioned by the United States.

According to Nasrallah, importing Iranian gas will relieve the gas disaster that has stricken the nation for months and that continues to negatively have an effect on many very important sectors, together with hospitals, bakeries and the electrical energy sector.

However, many Lebanese noticed the move as a populist declaration geared toward absorbing the anger of the Shiites, who represent a good setting for the Shiite social gathering however who’ve change into resentful of its efficiency on condition that it’s a social gathering to the authority that has introduced Lebanon to the present financial disaster.

The announcement of Iranian gas imports provoked totally different well-liked and political reactions in Lebanon. While some supported the move, others denounced it on the grounds that whoever unloads, shops or distributes this ship’s cargo could also be uncovered to the chance of US financial sanctions, which prohibits offers with Iran’s power business.

Meanwhile, all of the import and distribution of Iranian gas occurred amid official silence.

In an Aug. 19 tweet, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri criticized Nasrallah for declaring the Iranian ships to be Lebanese territory and mentioned this compromises Lebanon’s sovereignty. 

Meanwhile, many solid doubt in regards to the extent the Iranian cargo will contribute to fixing the gas disaster.

Patrick Mardini, an economist and head of the Lebanese Institute for Market Studies, informed Al-Monitor, “Iranian ships will not solve the fuel problem, as the problem does not lie in the inability to import fuel but in the inability to have it distributed to consumers.”

He added, “Lebanon has imported in recent months three times the local market’s need for fuel. But fuel is smuggled to be sold in Syria because the price of the canister is less than its cost. The only solution to this problem is to lift the fuel subsidy.”

Walid Abu Sleiman, a Lebanese economist, informed Al-Monitor, “The Iranian ships are aimed at conveying a political message [to Hezbollah’s rivals]. Practically, Lebanon needs 10-15 ships of diesel and gasoline per month, and the Iranian ships will barely cover the market’s needs for a few days.”

Richard Kouyoumjian, former minister of social affairs and head of the Lebanese Forces’ international affairs division, mentioned, “Where is the state in all of this?”

He informed Al-Monitor, “Under the pretext of helping people, Hezbollah is undermining the concept of the state. Also, the roads crossed by fuel tankers from Syria to Lebanon are the same ones through which fuel is being smuggled from Lebanon to Syria. This is evidenced by the fact that Lebanon imported within months fuel worth $800 million, which has not been used in the domestic market.”

The arrival of Iranian gas coincided with experiences that gas subsidies can be utterly lifted by the top of September after it was sponsored at 8,000 Lebanese kilos to at least one greenback.

On Sept. 9, an digital money subsidy card was launched to help poor Lebanese households. This card gives to every particular person $25 along with $15 for these over 64 years previous, with a most of $126 per family.

Noha Saleh, a housewife and mom of two, informed Al-Monitor, “I am excited to apply for the card, but the amount is very little and is not enough to cover my monthly medicine and basic household needs.”

She mentioned, “They [officials] should have further simplified the process, as there are people who are not familiar with ATMs.”

Abu Sleiman pointed to a delay within the card issuance and mentioned that there are particular teams that must be focused and supported in coordination with worldwide establishments till they get hold of this card.

Lebanon has been struggling for nearly two years from an financial and monetary disaster made worse by a political stalemate.

Following a 13 month-deadlock, a new authorities was fashioned in Lebanon Sept. 10 with 23 ministers, headed by Najib Mikati, who beforehand held this place twice.

Former Minister of Finance Ghazi Wazni introduced in a tweet Sept. 13 that the International Monetary Fund had knowledgeable the ministry that Lebanon would obtain $1.135 billion in Special Drawing Rights, to be deposited within the account of the Lebanese Central Bank.

“We warn against the indiscriminate use of these funds, especially for electricity and oil subsidies. These funds should be used for the economic advancement of well-defined projects and under the supervision of the parliament and international monitoring institutions,” Kouyoumjian mentioned.

He famous, “Transparency is key in this regard and these funds should be spent on investment projects such as the establishment of a power plant for example.”


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