Hezbollah Warns Israel, U.S. as Iranian Fuel Sails for Lebanon
(Bloomberg) -- Militant group Hezbollah appeared to warn Israel and the U.S. against intercepting an Iranian ship carrying fuel for Lebanon as the country reels from a crippling power crisis.
The vessel would sail “in hours,” the Iran-backed group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah was cited as saying by Al Jazeera Thursday. “I tell the Americans and the Israelis that as soon as the ship sails, it becomes Lebanese territory.” More such ships would follow, he said.
Iranian and Israeli-operated ships have in recent months been targeted in regional waters in unclaimed attacks widely believed to be tit-for-tat actions by the Middle Eastern rivals. Iran’s oil exports are under U.S. sanctions.
The Shiite Hezbollah movement also plays a powerful role in Lebanon’s politics. One of its rivals, former premier Saad Hariri, criticized Nasrallah’s intervention for endangering the country.
“Considering the Iranian ships as Lebanese territory is the height of compromising of our national sovereignty, and an call to treat Lebanon as if it were an Iranian province,” he tweeted. “We will not, under any circumstances, be a cover for projects to drown Lebanon into futile wars hostile to the Arabs and the world.”
The Lebanese central bank last week scrapped a fuel subsidy citing a lack of funds. The move led to longer power cuts and queues at fuel stations, deepening hardship in a country already suffering its worst ever economic crisis.
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