Ankunft des iranischen Tankers in Syrien: Syrische Armee eskortiert Öllastwagen in den Libanon

15 Sep. 2021 20:41

The arrival of the Iranian tanker in the Syrian port of Banias comes almost a month after Nasrallah announced that Hezbollah would start importing oil from Iran to ease Lebanon’s fuel crisis. As a result of the lack of fuel, there have been power outages in Lebanon for months, in many cases the power supply is interrupted for 22 hours a day.

The first ship to transport Iranian fuel to Lebanon recently docked in the Syrian port of Banias. Trucks are now supposed to bring the fuel to neighboring Lebanon. According to Hezbollah boss Hasan Nasrallah, the Syrian government has secured trucks to transport the oil to Lebanon. The report is now circulating on social media that the fourth division of the Syrian Army (SAA) is to escort oil trucks towards Lebanon. The 4th Division is de facto commanded by Maher Assad, a brother of the President who has good contacts with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The arrival of the Iranian tanker comes almost a month after Nasrallah announced that Hezbollah would start importing oil from Iran to ease Lebanon’s fuel crisis. As a result of the lack of fuel, there have been power outages in Lebanon for months, in many cases the power supply is interrupted for 22 hours a day. Hospitals recently complained of massive fuel shortages for their generators.

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Nasrallah said in a televised address on Monday evening that the group had decided to have the tanker docked in a Syrian port so as not to embarrass the Lebanese state and risk sanctions against Lebanon. Nasrallah added three more fuel ships running on diesel and one running on gasoline would arrive in the coming weeks.

The Iran-organized delivery apparently violates the US sanctions imposed on Tehran after former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers about three years ago. Syria, which also suffers from harsh US sanctions (Caesar law), relies mainly on oil supplies from its strong ally Iran, which has dispatched thousands of military advisers, including Hezbollah members, to Syria to help the Syrian army fight terrorism since the outbreak of the conflict that was stirred up from outside in 2011.

Nasrallah stressed Monday that the Iranian ship had arrived despite concerns from some that Israel would not allow the fuel shipment to reach Lebanon. “Some bet that Israel would not allow the ships to enter Lebanon,” added Nasrallah.

In August, Nasrallah warned that Iranian oil tankers were calling into Lebanese territory. He wanted to send a warning to the US and Israel that any aggression against the tankers was a hostile act against Lebanon.

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Nasrallah recently proposed to the Lebanese government that they drill for oil and gas off the Lebanese coast. He said at the same time that if no companies were willing to support the extraction of the gas for fear of US sanctions or Israeli attacks, Hezbollah could commission an Iranian company to develop gas in the waters of the Lebanese coast.

Israel has been targeting Iranian oil tankers in the region since the end of 2019, reported The Wall Street Journal already before. It used weapons such as sea mines to hit Iranian ships on their way to Syria in the Red Sea and other areas of the region. Despite the US sanctions, Iran is delivering gasoline and crude oil to Syria several times in order to remedy the gasoline shortage in the country.

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After Nasrallah announced the import of Iranian fuel, the US embassy in Beirut announced that the Biden government wanted to help Lebanon acquire gas from Egypt. Gas from Egypt is to be pumped by pipeline via Jordan and Syria to a power plant in northern Lebanon. At a recent meeting, the three countries agreed on the project to transport Egyptian gas to Lebanon via Syria and Jordan. The move, however, calls for a degree of cooperation between the US regional allies and President Bashar al-Assad’s administration in Syria. Since the US partners Egypt and Jordan are cooperating with the Syrian government on the project, Washington has already released the two countries from the ban on doing business with Damascus. The gas from Egypt will not flow until the end of the year, however. The plan seems primarily unrealistic and politically motivated due to the acute fuel shortage in Lebanon.

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