Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah announced on Thursday morning that a ship carrying Iranian oil will head to Lebanon within a matter of hours, following on a promise he made earlier this week to begin importing Iranian oil to ease a national Lebanese shortage.
Nasrallah said that the ship would be followed by more and warned Israel and the US that “from the moment the Iranian ship sails, [Hezbollah] will consider it Lebanese territory.” The first ship, he said, will carry diesel fuel since that is currently the top priority.
The Hezbollah leader warned against challenging his organization on the matter, saying the issue has “become linked to the pride of our people, and we refuse to humiliate this people.”
Nasrallah has warned on multiple occasions that Hezbollah would import Iranian oil on its own if the Lebanese government did not. Iranian oil is subsumed under international sanctions. Such a move could bring Iranian fuel tankers close to Israel’s shores.
Nasrallah thanked Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi for their support for Lebanon and Hezbollah.
“Despite the siege and sanctions on Iran and the pressures on it, it has never abandoned its allies and has not let down its friends,” said Nasrallah. “The severed hand of the martyr Qassem Soleimani on the grounds of the Iraqi airport is a witness that Iran does not abandon its friends.”
Rejecting complaints by some Lebanese parties that Iran interferes in Lebanese affairs through Hezbollah, Nasrallah claimed that this was not the case, saying “we are not tools for anyone, and we are not slaves, as others are to their masters.”
Despite the worsening economic crisis in Lebanon, Nasrallah stated on Thursday that Hezbollah’s top priority is to confront Israel, reiterating calls to create a “regional equation” amid the entire Iran-backed “Axis of Resistance” concerning Jerusalem.
Nasrallah claimed that the US is conducting an economic and media war against Lebanon and inciting Lebanese citizens against Hezbollah.
The Hezbollah leader warned Lebanese citizens against siding with the US, telling them to “take the experience of Afghanistan into consideration.” Nasrallah stressed that the “only option for the Lebanese is to meet and cooperate in order to save our country.”
Nasrallah’s announcement comes as tensions run high between Israel and Iran after an Iranian drone strike against the Israeli-managed Mercer Street tanker off the coast of Oman in July, killing a British and Romanian citizen. The United States, the United Kingdom and Israel have all threatened retaliation. Iran has denied responsibility and claimed Israel and the US are attempting to destabilize the region.
A few days later, Iranian forces reportedly attempted to hijack the Asphalt Princess tanker near the United Arab Emirates, but jumped ship after workers sabotaged the engines, according to The Times of London.
In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel had attacked a dozen Iranian oil tankers headed for Syria. After Nasrallah’s speech on Sunday, Hezbollah-affiliated operative Ali Shoeib tweeted that there was now a new equation with Israel: “a tank for a tank,” an apparent warning to Israel not to attack tankers carrying Iranian oil to Lebanon.
The statement also comes nearly two weeks after Hezbollah fired 19 rockets toward Israel after the IAF conducted airstrikes in Lebanon in response to earlier rocket fire launched from Lebanon.
Source » jpost