Three knowledgeable sources told Reuters that Lebanese Hezbollah is preparing for the possibility of a complete collapse of the struggling country by issuing food ration cards, importing medicine and equipping tanks to store fuel at the inside and outside Lebanon, at a time when the country is going through a stifling economic and financial crisis that has pushed half of the population into poverty.
Sources close to Hezbollah, who asked not to be named, explained that the party’s plan, which anticipates the worst-case scenario, has accelerated with the imminent lifting of government subsidies for certain products in the coming months, giving birth to the ghosts of hunger and unrest. . Read alsoIn protest against the high prices of poultry and eggs. “Let them hatch” A Lebanese campaign on the platforms Dismantling of a “political and economic mafia” … 100 figures ask Macron to freeze the suspicious assets of Lebanese officials What is the basic cost of living in Lebanon?
The same sources said that Hezbollah’s new ration card is already helping hundreds of people buy Lebanese pound commodities, which are Iranian, Lebanese and Syrian materials at a cheaper price compared to market prices, and with a discount of up to 40% with party support.
The card, which is named after a Shiite imam, can be used in cooperatives, some of which are new to the southern suburbs of Beirut and parts of southern Lebanon where Hezbollah has great influence.
The sources did not mention budget details or the beneficiaries of this plan.
While Hezbollah, which some of its opponents accuse of having created a state within the state, distributes food ration cards, the Lebanese state – which groans under the whips of corruption, waste and corruption. Debt for decades – brought up the idea of Allocating a ration card for the benefit of the poor for almost a year, but none of this Seeing the light yet.
Lebanese ministers say the need for parliamentary approval has delayed the state’s plan to issue cards to the poorest.
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Manifestations of the crisis
Since the summer of 2019, Lebanon has suffered from an economic collapse, in which the Lebanese pound has lost more than 85% of its value. The lira’s collapse was reflected in commodity prices, which rose 144%, according to estimates by the International Monetary Fund. More than half of the population lives below the poverty line. Publicity
Fighting in shops in Lebanon is now commonplace, as are images of people rummaging through garbage for food. A scuffle over food aid this week left one dead and two injured.
The Lebanese Central Bank’s dollar reserves also started to decline. The authorities, along with the payment from the Central Bank, have been studying for months the rationalization or removal of import subsidies for basic products such as flour, fuel and medicines.
Reuters cited another source that Hezbollah was stocking warehouses, distributing cards to provide services to non-party families and filling market gaps, where alternative materials are generally cheaper and more common than before. crisis, and he said the card offers a share, depending on Family size, for needs such as sugar and flour.
These goods are either backed by Hezbollah or imported by companies allied with it, or are not subject to tariffs across the border with Syria, where Hezbollah militants have had a strong influence since. that the party joined the war to support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. , with Iran.
Drugs and fuel
The same source added that Hezbollah had similar plans to import drugs, and some pharmacists in the southern suburbs of Beirut said they had received training on handling the new Iranian and Syrian pharmaceutical brands, which had emerged. on the shelves in recent months.
Two sources said the plan also includes the storage of fuel from Iran, at a time when the Lebanese Energy Ministry warns of the possibility of power outages, and a senior official said Hezbollah was looking to find places to store fuel in neighboring Syria.
Commenting on Hezbollah’s plan, adviser to the acting prime minister, Leila Hatoum, said the country “was not in a position to refuse aid” regardless of the policy.
“They are all doing this (in reference to other powers that store food and fuel), but Hezbollah’s reach is much bigger and stronger, and it has the resources to deal with the crisis,” said said Joseph Daher, a researcher who wrote a book on Hezbollah. Political economics.
The Lebanese researcher added: “This has more to do with limiting the disaster on its grassroots basis, and it means that dependence on Hezbollah in particular will increase.”