Senior Lebanese political analyst Nasser Qandil explains why Iran’s offer to sell Lebanon fuel in exchange for the Lebanese lira is the ‘best way out’ of the current economic crisis facing Beirut, which the World Bank has described as ‘one of the worst the world has seen in the last 150 years’.
Source: Al Manar TV via Kalam Siyasi (YouTube)
Date: June 26, 2021
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In the face of the US decision (to cause the collapse of Lebanon), Sayyed (Hassan) Nasrallah said today that all the administrative and logistical preparations to import fuel from Iran are ready and complete; and we are only waiting for the zero hour to implement the project if the (Lebanese) state was unable to obtain gasoline and diesel.
Nasser Qandil, senior political analyst: He (Sayyed Nasrallah) will have to do that.
The Host: Are we getting to this point?
Qandil: For sure.
The Host: Sooner or later we will be reaching this point?
Qandil: Yes. There is no escaping this outcome, and I will tell you why.
What if fuel subsidies (by the state) were completely lifted? (Fuel) will be available in the market.
Whether the subsidies were lifted or not, I will tell what is going to happen. When the Central Bank (of Lebanon) runs out of dollars to finance imports, or when the supply becomes scarce, the (Central) Bank will be able to cover only 10% or 20% of the need. (When that happens,) who will finance the imports? The black market. People with money in Lebanese lira will go to buy dollars.
The Host: (The exchange rate) will skyrocket…
Qandil: It will skyrocket..
The Host: It is already very high. It reached 16000/17000 Lebanese liras (per US dollar).
And it will go up (even) more. I don’t want to talk numbers because I don’t want to scare people. But there is no ceiling. With this rise, how much will the price of a tank of gasoline be? The price of a tank is 10 dollars. If (the exchange rate) is 20,000 Lebanese liras per dollar, the tank will be sold for 200,000 LP. On a 30,000 rate, it will be sold for 300,000. On a 50,000 rate, it will be sold for 500,000. On a 100,000 rate, the price of a tank will be one million Lebanese liras!
Therefore, his eminence (Sayyed Nasrallah) found the solution. I personally believe – and I do not care if anyone likes this or not – that no economist has offered (the solution to) the Lebanese (economic crisis) as good as his eminence Sayyed (Nasrallah). I will tell you what he did. Importing gasoline and diesel…Now those who do not like what I say can change the channel. I’m talking directly to the camera. And if Samir Geagea (the head of the Lebanese Forces party) wants to take an economics lesson, he can listen to me. Half of the Lebanese imports, i.e. the dollars that leave the country, are spent on fuel. Therefore, the first task of any sane, responsible economist with wise governance in the international scientific sense, would be: to reduce the amount of dollars required to cover the imports. The biggest and easiest (import) bill that you can find a solution for is fuel. Therefore, his eminence Sayyed (Nasrallah) went and worked on this issue.
He obtained Iran’s approval to pay for the imports in Lebanese liras. If we were in a country that respects itself, they would have kissed his (eminence) on his forehead, and would have said: “(if it weren’t for you,) these three or four billion dollars would have been spent on fuel. You took the pressure off the market.” Secondly, when (payment) is in Lebanese liras, the pricing (of a tank) becomes available. Instead of the dollar rising at a speed of 120 km, it will rise at a speed of 30 km. Thus, you would be able to control the crisis. There is no other solution.
The Host: Do you mean that there is no solution other than this option?
Qandil: No, there is no other solution, this option …
Mr. Nasser, (you are suggesting this option) although it is risky. Following this option, (you) will be running the risk of – especially if the sanctions on Iran are not lifted – the possibility of a collision course with the international community. In other words, if you move towards oil cooperation with Iran and the sanctions have not been lifted yet, then you will be challenging the West and America, and you – here we are speaking as a country (Lebanon) – are weaker than this challenge.
First of all, let us agree on the following: (people) who speak these words (i.e. challenging the West); I would accept their consideration for the West and the Americans only if they provide alternatives. Otherwise, as the saying goes, ‘I will not show mercy upon you nor allow God’s mercy to reach you!’ Those who speak about the consideration of the West are doing just this. Otherwise, let them do what Sayyed (Nasrallah) is calling for, “Go, prove us wrong, and bring (the fuel supplies) by yourselves (from your Western/Guld friends)!”.
Host: Do you think they will be able to bring gasoline? From Saudi Arabia or America?
The one who is wishes to starve you will definitely not help you. If the (American) plan is for (causing) Lebanon to fall, (and by doing so) perhaps the weapons of the resistance will fall too – or in other words, (the plan) is to implement the American theory, which the French Finance Minister Le Mair described as follows: ” The (American plan) is to drop the ceiling of Lebanon on its peoples’ heads, hoping some of its splinters reach Hezbollah”. However, this (plan) is over and has failed, there are still those who count on it; among which are Lebanese and others from abroad.
The Saudis will not provide you (with fuel) – (although) we hope that (it would) provide it. I swear by Almighty God that we hope this were to happen, since ultimately this is for (the sake) of Lebanon.
I personally believe that the (Lebanese) government has (its own) solutions if it itself wants solutions. Historically, we are talking about a commodity which is not imported by the (Lebanese) state itself, meaning that gasoline and diesel are goods that are not imported by the (Lebanese) state. Instead, the state outlines the (importation) framework.
Well, if the (Lebanese) state announces today that it permits companies wishing to import fuels to import (them) in Lebanese liras, on the condition that they pay duties and customs – isn’t that fine? Following this, a company appears and announces that it does not want to deal with US dollars, and that (this company) has no issue with being slapped sanctions by America. Literally, (it says), ‘I am company (X) and I want to trade in the Lebanese lira; I want to pay and get paid in the Lebanese lira’. (In such case), does America have anything to do with the Lebanese state?
Qandil: It has nothing to do with it …
Host: Legally, it does not have such a right?
No definitely it does not, (if America) wants to sanction this company, let it do so. This company does not care about sanctions, all it wants is to deal in the Lebanese lira and not with the US dollar, and it has such a right. And let me tell you something, there are non-political or non-partisan companies; they are not with Hezbollah neither with the resistance, all that they are concerned about is securing profits and money and lucrative deals.
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