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Implications of Iran Sending Fuel to Lebanon

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In recent days, Lebanese authorities announced they had received the third shipment of Iranian fuel. Meanwhile, Iranians suffer from constant power outages amid the worsening Covid-19 crisis. But why? Wouldn’t doing so add to the society’s restiveness or further international isolation for the regime?

On August 19, AP reported that “The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group said on Thursday that an Iranian fuel tanker would sail toward Lebanon within hours.” This was the first fuel shipment from Iran to Lebanon. AP asserted that “the delivery, organized by the Iran-backed Hezbollah, would violate U.S. sanctions.

“The Islamic Republic is ready to build a power plant in Lebanon,” Mohammad Javad Firouznia, the regime’s ambassador in Lebanon,” said on Friday, according to the state-run Barkat News. “These expenses are coming out of the Iranian people’s pocket, while the extensive blackouts have caused serious problems for their lives and wellbeing,” Barkat New adds.

Yet, instead of resolving Iran’s power outages crisis, the regime’s Ministry of Energy only announces “scheduled blackouts.” The regime claims it has insufficient fuel for power plants, thus uses fuel oil, which causes air pollution, ultimately adding to people’s respiratory problems as more people get infected with Covid-19.

Constant blackouts in Iran disrupt people’s daily lives and increases the Covid-19 casualties as the oxygen machines stop functioning. “According to Dr. Hamid Emadi, Head of Infectious Diseases Department, of Khomeini Hospital these days, power outages have plagued patients diagnosed with Covid-19 with acute pulmonary problems. This is because one of the most basic treatments for these patients is the use of an oxygen machine,” the state-run Jahan-e Sanat daily acknowledged on May 24.

In addition to the Covid-19 outbreak, people had a difficult time during summer with its scorching heat. Iran’s constant power outages resulting in extensive blackouts are due to several factors:

  1. The regime consumes much of Iran’s electricity for extracting cryptocurrencies.
  2. The regime export electricity abroad to generate income.
  3. The regime claims it has insufficient fuel for power plants, so it should use fuel oil, a highly pollutive substance, or people should endure blackouts.

The Iranian regime ships fuel to Lebanon as fall and winter approaches, leaving Iranian people to suffer from cold last winter. On January 12, eight provinces witnessed widespread and serial blackouts. The blackouts extended to seven other provinces, namely Gilan, Alborz, Central Khorasan, Mashhad, Markazi, Semnan, Qom, and Ardabil.

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In the first hours, the spokesman of the electricity industry, Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi, said that the blackouts in the metropolises were due to the lack of fuel for the power plants. The regime then quickly blamed people’s “high usage of gas” as the reason for blackouts. The regime refuses to use Iran’s vast resources of natural gas and other fuels as it ships them abroad. Besides, since the regime uses fuel oil for power plants, Iran’s electricity is cheaper than other countries. Thus, the regime could have Chinese firms investing in Iran to extract bitcoin.

The regime is aware of the social consequences of these blackouts in Iran. In recent months, on many occasions, Iranians chanted “death to the dictator” when the blackouts happened. There were also several protests in Iran in this regard. On June 1, 2021, the state-run Farhikhtegan daily warned that “The truth is that the energy crisis in Iran has emerged. This is a stage where tangible and threatening realities can cause dangerous physical and psychological damage to the infrastructure and related elements of society.”

The question now is why the regime is risking its domestic security? The answer is simple words is “priority.” Since its foundation, the mullahs’ regime has tried to export domestic crisis by supporting terrorist groups. When criticized for propping Bashar-Al Assad’s dictatorship in Syria, the regime’s top officials asserted that if they “do not fight in Syria,” they would have to “fight in the streets of Tehran.” The regime has funded and supported the Lebanese Hezbollah. In recent years, with Tehran’s support, Hezbollah has become a major force in Lebanon, controlling most of the country’s top positions.

As Lebanon sinks deeper into poverty, Lebanese are more openly criticizing Hezbollah. These people “blame the group — along with the ruling class — for the devastating, multiple crises plaguing the country, including a dramatic currency crash and severe shortages in medicine and fuel,” as AP reported on September 1. Tehran is now implicated in conflicts in Yemen and Syria. Hezbollah has been acting as the regime’s boots on the ground in the region, allowing the regime to use its oppressive forces to control Iran’s society.

A possible uprising in Lebanon and Hezbollah’s downfall would have severe consequences for the regime. So it has chosen to support Hezbollah against all odds. Yet, this would have domestic and international consequences for the regime. First, since the regime is violating the international sanctions, the risk of further pressure from western powers is increasing. This international isolation further curbs the regime’s ability to fund its proxy groups.

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In addition, the Iranian people witness how the regime is plundering their national wealth and leaves them in poverty and other crises. Thus, their hatred toward the regime increases. During the protests, they have underlined many times that “neither Gaza nor Lebanon, my life only for Iran,” defying the regime’s warmongering policies. Sending fuel to Lebanon wouldn’t resolve Hezbollah’s problems in the long term. It also rejects the regime’s propaganda of not having enough resources to help its own people amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Therefore it is safe to say that Tehran is in a deadlock, and these steps would have solved its domestic, regional, and international crises if they wouldn’t exacerbate them.