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The New Arab Staff

Lebanon's Nasrallah says Hezbollah not married to 'Iran model' but calls for Tehran fuel supplies

Nasrallah holds regular televised speeches discussing Lebanese political issues [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 July, 2020

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Lebanon's cash-strapped government is looking for fuel supplies.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has called on the Lebanese government to open up energy talks with Iran, but said he is not tied to the "Tehran model" for running the country.

Nasrallah said his party is in talks with the Lebanese government about using US-sanctioned Iran as a fuel supplier, as the country experiences increasing power cuts due to an energy crisis sparked by Lebanon's currency crisis.

During Nasrallah's televised speech on Tuesday calling for a closer partnership with Iran, the power cut - an increasingly common occurrence in the country, which is going through one of its worst economic crises in decades.

"We started a discussion [with the government]... to see where this option can go," he said, according to Reuters

"This track is moving... What's the result going to be? I don't know. But we have to try."

This option could ease pressure on Lebanon's hard currency reserves, he said, with the Lebanese lira losing 85 percent of its value since October making it difficult to purchase fuel on the international energy market.

Cash-strapped Iran could accept selling fuel for the weak Lebanese lira, as Tehran suffers from economic hardships in part brought about by US sanctions.

The leader of the political and armed movement said that Lebanon should look to China for a possible loan, as talks with the IMF flounder on the issue of reforms.

"[We] should not stick to only one path and should not await the outcome of negotiations with the IMF without seeking other choices, because these talks might take time of fail," he said.

Despite Hezbollah's push for Lebanon to turn east for financial assistance during these dire economic times, Nasrallah said that he does not rule out seeking help from the West, including arch-foe the US.

"We are open to help from any country in the world except Israel. Even the US, which is an enemy, can help us," he said, according to The Daily Star.

"We are not seeking to cut off 'Western oxygen' from anyone in Lebanon. All we mean by turning eastward is that since France won't provide CEDRE funds and while the US is imposing sanctions, and while Arab countries won't help for their own reasons, we should accept help from whoever offers."

Despite reports that Lebanon's leaders are resisting IMF-led economic reforms Nasrallah said that Hezbollah is not seeking a statist economy. 

"Some have accused us of trying to change Lebanon's economic structure by turning to China, to make it communist or socialist. This is not true," he said.

He also said that his Shia movement - which is closely allied and supported by Tehran - is not seeking an "Iranian model" for Lebanon, but welcomes assistance from the oil-rich country in helping tackle its energy crisis. 

"All we said was that we have an opportunity to purchase fuel and petroleum products from a friend called Iran in exchange for Lebanese pounds," he said.

Lebanon's financial crisis has seen the prices of basic goods, such as bread, become increasingly unaffordable for many Lebanese and wiped the value off savings.

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