In the first official reaction, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati described, on Friday, during an interview with the American network (CNN) published by the official news agency, the Iranian fuel shipment that Hezbollah brought into the country through Syria as a “violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty.”
Mikati added, during the interview, that he “has no fear of imposing sanctions on Lebanon, because the operation took place in isolation from the Lebanese government.”
What is the alternative?
Lebanese activists on social media criticized Mikati’s statements, asking him to provide them with an alternative before saying that he was “sad”.
With Mikati expressing his sadness at the “violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty”, as he described it, the question remains: What alternative can he and his government offer if it gains the confidence of MPs tomorrow, Monday?
The head of the Our Lady of the Mountain meeting, Faris Saeed, explained that “the alternative is the return of the Lebanese state to the core of Arab and international legitimacy, so that oil derivatives are imported in accordance with international law and trade laws in force in Lebanon.”
Saeed added in an interview with “Arabi 21”: “As for what was said about Hezbollah saving Lebanon, it is unrealistic and incorrect, because it is the one who destroyed the Lebanese state, and today it presents itself as a savior for the country, and we do not want it today to destroy the country, and we do not want it.” To save it, for we have a state that is governed by a constitution and laws that we must implement, and also for the needs of the Lebanese to reach them in accordance with the frameworks of international and domestic legitimacy.”
Regarding Mikati’s lack of objection to Western aid in return for his grief over the entry of Iranian fuel, Saeed said: “Quite simply, Western and Arab countries give gifts to the Lebanese state, not to friends in Lebanon, nor to sects or parties, and therefore the distribution of these gifts is balanced and for all Lebanese citizens.”
He added: “While Iranian fuel will be distributed by Hezbollah through an institution called Al-Amanah that works for the party, and it is the political decision to distribute the fuel according to what it wants.”
For his part, journalist and political researcher Tawfiq Shoman pointed out that “the problem is that there is currently no alternative to Iranian fuel.”
Shoman explained, during his interview with “Arabi 21”, that “the delay of the Lebanese government and authority with all its political forces in providing successful and effective solutions to the hydrocarbon problem is what prompted one of the political parties, “Hezbollah” to turn towards Iran.”
Pointing out that “the party’s Secretary-General had warned the Lebanese state more than once that the party might import fuel from Iran if things remained as they were, especially since the fuel crisis had prolonged to the point where it paralyzed the Lebanese economy or what was left of it in all its sectors.”
He stressed that “Mikati’s statement is the first official Lebanese position, and it took place in an interview with an American channel,” adding: “I think that the message that President Mikati wanted to send is quite clear, as he differentiated between importing oil from Iran and the position of the Lebanese government, and at the same time thanked the Iraqi government.” But I do not think that this position can be reflected in Mr. Najib Mikati’s relationship with Hezbollah.”
And he added: “Therefore, I do not think that he has an alternative, as he has not yet presented alternatives, and even in the ministerial statement it was stated that the Lebanese government will seek to secure fuel, and thus electricity for the Lebanese, but in fact there is no plan regarding this matter, not when Najib Mikati, nor with other political forces.
Regarding the alternative proposed by Saeed, which is importing from Arab countries, the researcher said: “I think that this was supposed to be by the Arab countries, but the main problem in Lebanon consists of two complexes, the first is the lack of money in the Lebanese treasury, and the second is the acceptance or approval of the countries. Arab countries to supply Lebanon with fuel.
He added, however, by saying: “But here, I would like to point out that Lebanon agreed to bring in Egyptian gas through Jordan and then Syria, and I believe that if the Arab countries had taken a position that would help Lebanon in this area, many obstacles and complications at the internal and Arab political levels would have been overcome.”
He explained that what hinders imports from Arab countries “is not the Lebanese political crisis, but rather the depletion of the Lebanese treasury first, and secondly, the position of the Arab countries, as it was negative towards Lebanon, in complete contrast to the previous Arab positions that helped Lebanon in many of its crises, at least since 1975.”
Pointing out that “the negativity in the Arab position is not related to the presence of Hezbollah, which some Arab countries object to in the Lebanese government. Rather, it is negative in general. Even the Arab countries that had a position on Prime Minister Saad Hariri did not open their doors to those who came after him, whether Hassan Diab.” Or Najib Mikati.
In turn, writer and political analyst Qassem Kassir explained, “Mikati did not object in the sense of objection, but rather used a sad expression, and in my opinion the issue has become a reality, and now the responsibility of the government and countries friendly to Lebanon is to facilitate the arrival of fuel and fuel, and thus cut off the road to any other aid if they want to stop This topic”.
In an interview with Arabi 21, Kassir continued: “Lebanon needs electricity, diesel and other things. There are also high prices, and what happened, we noticed, according to information today, that about 5,000 Lebanese institutions from different regions submitted a request to obtain diesel.”
He pointed out that today the price of diesel has been raised, and that some factories and hospitals need diesel, and they may not be able to buy it if the price is high, so they may go to buy diesel at a reduced price from the Iranian shipment that arrived in Lebanon.
He added: “Therefore, in my opinion, the issue needs a solution, as he cannot just say that he is sad, or that the matter is a violation of Lebanese sovereignty, but rather he must provide an alternative, meaning when you are drowning and someone comes to help you, do you ask him who you are or how did you come?” aid to Lebanon.
A solution to the problem of hydrocarbons or a deepening of the political crisis?
The head of the Our Lady of the Mountain meeting, Fares Saeed, believes that “the Iranian fuel shipment has already deepened the Lebanese political crisis and increased the political division,” expressing his belief that “it is a quantity that benefits Hezbollah for electoral promotion and not for the sake of ending the catastrophic situation in which the Lebanese are living, and therefore it is in terms of The economic crisis does not solve the crisis, and politically it has deepened the political crisis.”
He concluded by saying: “The government must import oil in accordance with the laws, and therefore, after obtaining confidence, it must act as the government of Lebanon, especially since there is nothing to impede the government’s import of oil from any Arab country.”
For his part, Qassem Kassir stressed that “this shipment will not deepen the political crisis,” adding: “I also listened to Mikati’s interview with CNN, and he spoke in a way that we can describe as very accurate, whether about Hezbollah or others, so that he does not enter into No problem, and he says he is pragmatic, and deals with things realistically.”
Regarding Saeed’s saying that Hezbollah will use this fuel as an electoral card, Kassir said: “The issue of aid has been used by all parties since Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and the Future Movement were in the government. There is also a vacuum, and there are those who want to fill it, and if you do not want this issue, fill the void, Whether through state institutions or foreign aid, in addition to this, Hezbollah did not resort to this matter until after the citizens had suffered hard suffering. In my opinion, the issue now is a question of solving the problem, even if partially.”
He added: “There is a platform with phone numbers for those who want diesel to call, and distribution to tanks has begun, and the priority now is for factories, hospitals, and from all regions, not just for the Hezbollah public, and there is another section that will be sold at acceptable prices through a company called Al-Amanah that has petrol and diesel stations.”
In turn, Tawfiq Shoman expressed his belief that “the introduction of Iranian fuel will not deepen the political crisis, as there is no such matter on the horizon. Also, the Lebanese political forces, with the exception of the Lebanese Forces, did not express a sharp or hot stance on this matter, but some positions emerged. From some Lebanese personalities, not the active parties.