Iranian fuel tanker removed from flotilla bound for Lebanon
One of three Iranian fuel tankers set for Lebanon was removed from a flotilla heading to the country on Friday by TankerTrackers.com, an oil export tracker, as Beirut continues to suffer an ongoing energy crisis.
TankerTrackers.com said in a tweet that the tank had been “downgraded to either a domestic delivery within Iran or waiting for the first two tankers to successfully reach their destination”.
The oil tracker service also announced a few hours earlier that the first tanker, carrying fuel for the electric power grid, had been delayed while the second one had left Iran. They said they would announce the names of the tankers once they had crossed the Suez Canal.
The controversial deal between Iran and Lebanon was organised by Hezbollah, the most powerful political force in Lebanon.
The US has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. While Hezbollah's military faction is widely considered illegal, most EU members have not banned Hezbollah's political wing due to its significant role in Lebanese politics.
2021-09-03 (today's second) update regarding Iranian fuel for Lebanon:— TankerTrackers.com, Inc. (@TankerTrackers) September 3, 2021
We are removing the third vessel from this flotilla. She is now downgraded to either a domestic delivery within Iran or waiting for the first two tankers to successfully reach their destination.
Lebanon is gripped by one of the world's worst economic crises since the 1850s, according to the World Bank, and is struggling with shortages of fuel and other necessities, amid a black market plunge in the local currency of more than 90 percent.
On Wednesday, Raymond Ghajar, Lebanese Energy Minister told Reuters that the government had not received a request for permission from Hezbollah to import fuel.
"We do not have information. Permission was not requested from us. This is all I am saying”, Ghajar said.
Reuters also reported on Thursday that the first Iranian fuel oil cargo will be delivered via Syria by truck to avoid complications related to sanctions, according to sources with knowledge on the matter.
"Choosing to receive the vessel via Syria is not related to any fear of targeting by Israel or the US but is due to internal considerations related to not wanting to implicate any allies," a source told Reuters.
Israel has been involved in a proxy conflict with Iran and Hezbollah where Israel has allegedly attacked Iranian tankers and conducted frequent airstrikes on Hezbollah positions in Syria.