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Sunni cleric thanks Iran for helping Lebanon, slams US siege

Lebanese wait in a queue outside a closed petrol station in Beirut's Hamra district, on August 20, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

A Lebanese Sunni cleric has thanked Iran for shipping fuel to the crisis-hit country, blasting the United States for besieging the nation at the current critical juncture.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Qattan, head of the Our Word and Deed Association, made the remarks on Friday, one day after Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced that a ship carrying Iranian fuel will set sail for Lebanon within hours, warning Israel and the US that the resistance group would regard the vessels carrying Iranian fuel as part of the “Lebanese soil.”

“We all heard that a ship is coming to Lebanon from Iran. Since we are strong in Lebanon ... we said that the ship is Lebanese territory so that the enemies can calculate thousands of millions of times before any attack,” el-Nashra online newspaper quoted Qattan as saying.

“We will thank any country that sends us any aid ... Now we are saying thank you to Iran."

Following Nasrallah’s announcement, former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Iran’s fuel delivery risked sanctions being imposed on the Mediterranean country.

In a series of tweets, Hariri expressed dismay over Nasrallah’s recognition of the ships as the Lebanese territory and claimed that the country could suffer the fate of Venezuela, which is under tough economic sanctions.

In his comments, Qattan said that some people criticized Iran’s fuel shipment and warned of sanctions in a bid to satisfy the United States and the enemies of Lebanon.

"Who has benefited from the US presence in Lebanon and what has it brought about for Lebanon other than a siege?" he asked.

“Some people in Lebanon want the country to be humiliated and dependent on the US and the enemies, but American mercenaries must take lessons from those in Afghanistan and other states," he added.

Lebanon has been mired since late 2019 in a deep financial crisis that has caused the Lebanese pound to lose around 90 percent of its value to the dollar.

Severe fuel shortages and wide-scale power cuts have also paralyzed the country, which is also grappling with a political deadlock.

Earlier this week, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon Najat Rochdi said fuel shortages are threatening provision of essential health and water services, putting thousands of families at risk. 

Reliable fuel and electricity supply are urgently needed in Lebanon to avert a potential “humanitarian catastrophe,” she said in a statement.

Hundreds of Lebanese individuals and entities have been sanctioned by the US, with the list focusing mainly on those with ties to Hezbollah.

The US and its European allies have long been seeking to mount pressure on the Lebanese authorities through sanctions in a bid to force the formation of a Western-friendly administration.

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