Iran Is Ready to Sell Oil to Lebanon Directly

Lebanon PM: Oil shipments violate our sovereignty

Discussing recent shipments of fuel to Lebanon, Iranian Foreign Ministry officials have said that they are prepared to sell fuel directly to the Lebanese government if they want to buy it as a way to cope with mounting shortages. Previous shipments were made at the behest of Hezbollah, not the Lebanese government.

Massive economic struggles in Lebanon are leading to terrible shortages. Trying to avoid controversy, Iran shipped the first tanker by way of neighboring Syria, and then sent trucks from Syria into Lebanon. A big concern is US sanctions for buying (or even receiving) Iranian fuel.

Lebanese PM Najib Mikati was deeply critical of the shipments, saying he is “sad” and considers them a violation of sovereignty because he never authorized them. He argued that since he didn’t approve, he shouldn’t face any sanctions.

Which might suggest this is more a cynical attempt at plausible deniability. It’s difficult to see him genuinely being “sad” about shipments of fuel into his fuel-starved country, and even if he’s not politically aligned with Hezbollah, it would be impractical to try to stop easing the shortages.

International groups have warned Lebanon’s economy is facing one of the worst crises is many decades. The currency is nearly worthless, and it’s not clear they could buy fuel internationally even if they wanted to, which according to Mikati they don’t.

With the US forbidding Iran from selling its oil, Iran has found interest in nations that couldn’t otherwise buy it. This has led Iranian tankers to Venezuela, where similar shortages exist. Lebanon is certainly in a position where they could use a helping hand, and might not be able to afford to care who its from.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.