The American silence indicates that Hezbollah has brought Iranian diesel into Lebanon and dealt with the move calmly and without the usual escalation of a change in US policy priorities towards the region and ways of dealing with regional files.
The silence of the United States about Hezbollah’s introduction of Iranian diesel into Lebanon raised many questions, especially since it has always used the sanctions weapon against Tehran and its arm in Lebanon, while most analyzes indicate that there are new balances of power in the region, and Washington has begun to adapt to it to draw up a new plan for it, which is not clear. Until now.
Lebanese political analyst Sarkis Abu Zeid says, “Washington does not want to go to a military confrontation in the region, so today it is performing a different performance than before. from Iran”.
On the other hand, political analyst Joey Lahoud says that “there is no American siege on Lebanon, but there is a siege on Hezbollah, which is besieging Lebanon.”
He justifies his idea by saying, “If there had been a siege on Lebanon, we would not have seen the enormous financial aid provided to the Lebanese army, non-governmental associations and the Lebanese society.”
For months, Lebanon has been witnessing a fuel crisis that is largely reflected in various sectors, including hospitals, transportation, bakeries, communications and foodstuffs, in the midst of an economic collapse that has been going on for two years, which the World Bank has ranked among the worst in the world since 1850.
The first ship arrived from Iran to the Syrian port of Banias, and its cargo was unloaded there, then the oil materials were transported last Thursday to the Baalbek region (eastern Lebanon) for storage, and later distribution to the target groups.
With the arrival of the first cargo, Lebanese public opinion was divided between supporters and opponents, and opinions differed about Washington’s disregard for these shipments, which some considered a kind of facilitation of their entry.
An unofficial Lebanese institution was approved for the entry of petroleum products, meaning that it did not enter through Lebanese ports or through Lebanese companies, and that the only company that handles its distribution is the “Amanah” company, which is basically under US sanctions. Despite this, the American position was calm and not negative at all.
In 2019, Washington placed Al-Amanah on the list of terrorism and imposed sanctions on it.
The United States always imposes sanctions on people or companies loyal to Hezbollah and its allies, and under the US Caesar Act, any person or entity dealing with the Syrian regime is subject to travel restrictions or financial sanctions regardless of their location in the world.
Recently, Lebanese Prime Minister Najith Mikati said, in an interview on CNN, that he “is not afraid of sanctions against Lebanon because the operation took place in isolation from the government.”
In early August, a Lebanese delegation arrived in Damascus, on a visit that is the first of its kind in 10 years, as part of efforts to alleviate the electricity crisis in Lebanon.
Lebanese officials have been avoiding official visits to Syria since the start of the revolution in 2011, as Beirut adopted a policy of disassociation from regional conflicts, despite Hezbollah’s violation of that policy by fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the face of opposition forces.
Abu Zeid considers that “the United States has opened the doors to all possible settlements,” pointing out that “we are in a transitional phase whose image has not yet been clarified.”
The US administration agreed to continue assisting Lebanon in importing electrical energy (brought via lines) from Jordan through Syria.
Analysts are unanimous in the presence of US flexibility towards Hezbollah, which indicates a change in US foreign policy, which is adopting a different approach than was the case during the era of former US President Donald Trump.
They say that Washington is now looking at the process of confronting Hezbollah as harming the Lebanese people and benefiting Hezbollah, so it relied on a new approach, coinciding with the nearly last round between the Americans and Iranians (the ongoing negotiations in Vienna on the Iranian nuclear issue).
On the other hand, analysts describe the entry of Iranian diesel into Lebanon as a step that once again proved that Hezbollah is the actual decision-maker in the country that is being ravaged by a severe economic collapse and controlled by a chronic political crisis.
Political science professor Karim Emil Bitar says that the shipment of Iranian diesel is “nothing but a new confirmation that Hezbollah has strengthened much more its influence on the Lebanese state… it is no longer trying to hide behind the cover of legitimacy provided by state institutions.”
The move by Hezbollah, which Washington classifies as a terrorist organization, has sparked political criticism from its opponents, who accuse it of mortgaging Lebanon to Iran and “implicating” it in conflicts it needs, such as the conflict in Syria, in which Hezbollah is fighting alongside the regime forces.
The Lebanese authorities have repeatedly declared that they are committed in their financial and banking transactions not to violate international and US sanctions imposed on Syria and Iran.
“Hezbollah’s latest move has weakened the state and even the concept of the state… It has become clear that the state is unable to stand up to Hezbollah, but rather watches it as if it is paralyzed and unable to do anything,” said Laurie Haytian, a political activist and director of the Institute for Natural Resources Governance in the Middle East and North Africa. .
Haitian sees the first Iranian shipment as a “test.” If the United States does not show interest, many institutions will dare to request Iranian fuel from Hezbollah.
Many Lebanese blame the ruling political class, including Hezbollah, which participates in the government and parliament, for the collapse in Lebanon due to decades of mismanagement, quotas and corruption.
With the decline of the Central Bank’s foreign exchange reserves, the authorities began to gradually lift subsidies on basic materials, including fuel.
The day after the entry of Iranian diesel, the Syndicate of Gas Station Owners announced on Friday that the facilities would start distributing diesel in US dollars.
As for Hezbollah, it will provide Iranian diesel free of charge to those wishing, from government hospitals, nursing homes, orphans, water institutions and municipalities that need diesel to extract water, and firefighting groups in the Civil Defense and the Lebanese Red Cross.
He will sell it in “Lebanese pounds” at a price “less than the cost price,” according to what was announced, to those interested in private hospitals, pharmaceutical and serum laboratories, mills, ovens, food cooperatives, food industry laboratories, agricultural machinery and equipment, as well as private generators.
Experts confirm that the shipment of Iranian diesel will not make much difference in the crisis, because the need for fuel is much greater.