In a recent interview with France24, Shia cleric Sheikh Sadiq Al-Nabulsi acknowledged that cross-border smuggling was an integral part of the militia’s work.
Sheikh Al-Nabulsi, who is also a political science professor, was appointed by Hezbollah to partake in the interview with the French news channel.
Justifying the smuggling, he said, “Smuggling is an integral part of the resistance’s operations to defend Lebanese interests.”
“What is happening today, under pressure from America and sanctions in place, both Lebanese and Syrian are forced to break some laws to secure basic necessities.”
It is not clear what part of the smuggling Hezbollah deems to be to the benefit of Lebanese interests. Lebanon is constantly witnessing its resources evaporate, including the subsidized goods, with regular news reports of cross-border smuggling.
According to France24, the smuggling is costing Lebanon’s struggling economy $15 million a day and is preventing the international community from aiding Lebanon. That is in addition to exacerbating the crises the Lebanese people are suffering from, including food and fuel.
Last week, Lebanon’s caretaker Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar said that smuggling was the reason for the country’s gasoline crisis.
Ghajar stated that smugglers were making high profits by selling gasoline in Syria, benefitting from the price difference to the detriment of Lebanese people.
There have been some random interventions by Lebanese civilians taken initiatives themselves to seize trucks carrying wheat and flour or catching dozens of trucks loaded with fuel to Syria.
Reports of the smuggling of state-subsidized goods have been numerous, yet there is little to no action taken by the Lebanese government to stop this ongoing crime against the state and the people.