“I would like to announce that the arrangements for the first ship to depart Iran have been completed and the vessel will set sail within hours,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Thursday morning in a televised address commemorating Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Imam of Shia Muslims.
The ship will be carrying diesel since it is a top priority for the Lebanese people’s livelihoods, Nasrallah said, promising that it will be followed by other ships carrying more fuel. “We do not accept the humiliation of our people.”
“From the moment the ship begins to sail, [Hezbollah] will consider it Lebanese soil,” he said, warning the enemies against challenging Hezbollah on the matter.
He also thanked Iran for standing beside the people of Lebanon throughout the past years.
According to Nasrallah, Iran has refrained from interfering in Lebanese affairs in the last four decades, despite standing by the side of the Lebanese people.
“Our decisions are our own. We are not the tools and slaves of others, as some are.”
The Hezbollah chief had already voiced willingness on a number of occasions to import Iran’s oil to counter Lebanon’s dire fuel shortage, in case the government fails to deal with the crisis.
On Sunday, he said Hezbollah would “definitely” import fuel from Iran, and would do so “in broad daylight, not at night.”
The small Mediterranean country has, since 2019, been paralyzed by a major financial crisis, which has cut the value of its currency by more than 90 percent, eliminated jobs, and made banks freeze accounts.
Nasrallah’s Thursday comments come as tensions run high between Israel and Iran in the aftermath of an alleged attack against the Israeli-managed Mercer Street tanker off Oman in July, after which Israel, the US and Britain quickly blamed Iran and threatened a “response.” Tehran, however, rejected the accusation as “baseless” and “childish.”
Iraqis should learn from ‘Afghan experience’
“Despite the sanctions and pressures on Iran, it has never abandoned its allies and has not let down its friends,” said the Hezbollah secretary general. “The severed hand of Martyred General Hajj Qassem Soleimani on the grounds of the Iraqi airport bears witness to the fact that Iran does not abandon its friends.”
He was hinting at the United States’ humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, as a result of which Afghanistan’s US-backed president Ashraf Ghani fled the country as the Taliban militant group gained power.
Nasrallah called on Iraqis to expedite their plan to expel US forces from their country, saying the decision to drive American troops out of Iraq was a “big achievement.”
“With the US defeat in Afghanistan, the eyes are now on the US occupation of Iraq and Syria,” he said. “The Iraqis should also take a look at the Afghan experience and reconsider the issue of [the presence of] US advisers and training forces.”
He went on to praise Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) resistance group as forces that guarantee Iraq’s security against any threat, saying the PMU, also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, should be strengthened to better protect the Arab country.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Nasrallah said what is happening in Lebanon is an “economic war,” which is orchestrated by the US Embassy in Lebanon and works to the benefit of Israel.
“The US Embassy is not a diplomatic mission in Lebanon, but a hub of hatching conspiracies against the Lebanese people,” he said, warning those who trust the Americans and their embassy in Beirut to learn a lesson from the Afghan experience.
“To those who rely on the Americans and their embassy in Beirut, I say that the police dogs they use for protection are closer to them than you,” he added.
He was alluding to images that showed pet dogs of American nationals being evacuated from Kabul given human seats on passenger planes, along striking images of over 600 hundred local Afghans crammed into a US military cargo plane and seated on the floor.