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Lebanon... Supply Through Syria But Not Damascus

Lebanon... Supply Through Syria But Not Damascus

Friday, 10 September, 2021 - 10:30

The Lebanese ruling system has seized an opportunity, clamoring towards the Syrian regime with the belief that it could play a role in re-normalizing it through the Egyptian gas pipelines and the Jordanian electricity network.

This political class adhered to the first part of the US message, in which Washington permitted the Lebanese government to be supplied with gas and electricity through Syrian territories. However, they neglected the second part of this communication, transmitted by a senior American official visiting Beirut more than a month ago, who explained his country's calculations by saying “through Syria, but not through Damascus.”

“Through Syria” constitutes permission for Cairo and Amman to restart gas and electric lines to Lebanon through Syrian territory. However, it places big question marks about the political nature of such an arrangement, meaning that the political conditions remain difficult for its passage through Damascus.

The arrangement offered by the US ambassador to assist Lebanon in its energy crisis is not the one desired by the regimes of Beirut and Damascus. It is not a license for the Lebanese side to bring Syria into Beirut via the gateway to economic interests, or to show the Syrian regime as if it is linked to Arab interests without conditions or reservations. Neither is it an opportunity to present it as a largesse by the Assad regime over the Lebanese, and then use it as cover for those who rushed to Damascus in a confused moment in regional politics which the Lebanese ruling system attempted to exploit for the benefit of what remains of the Damascus regime.

The Lebanese can overlook geography but they cannot transcend history. The Lebanese people are now dealing with a ruling regime the bulk of which is a result of the legacy of Syrian occupation of their country. Meanwhile, the main cause of the economic suffering of Lebanon are decisions made by this system’s figures to support Assad through the Lebanese financial deposits, large parts of which evaporated due to the financial credits that were opened in Lebanon in order to purchase the basic needs of the Syrian regime, in addition to organized smuggling.

Practically, it is possible that the proposal to import energy from Jordan and Egypt to Lebanon through Syria will face the same fate as all projects to help Lebanon provide its energy needs. This project, which requires months to plan and implement, will not have a different outcome than the plan to supply Iraqi oil. Both are plans that cannot materialize before influential political forces, those that control the energy sector, receive their share of the spoils, and who are ready to obstruct the access of electricity from Jordan and gas from Egypt because it will partially undermine their financial interests.

This process of supplying energy will take place under the supervision and financial control of the governments of the two supplying countries. This would diminish the margin of financial profit for the mafia in power, and will also put an end to their control over energy resources. To the ruling Lebanese elite, the proposal is generally unfavorable, whether economically or politically, because in the end it will allow Egypt and Jordan to play a constructive role in the economic crisis, and therefore to influence it politically, at a time when Tehran has not succeeded in bringing its tankers to the ports of Lebanon despite promises and threats by the secretary-general of Hezbollah in recent weeks.

To the Lebanese political class, especially those with a proclivity for the alliance of minorities and the axis of imaginary victories, it is necessary to implement the first part of the American statement –only to contact and communicate with the Damascus regime which will indulge Arab requests without expanding its own gains.

Therefore, the energy linkage project will be exposed to many obstacles that will hinder it upon its inception, and its implementation will be delayed in the future, as this regime is not interested in giving the Lebanese, even its own allies, what they want for free.

Even at the height of its weakness, the nature of the Syrian regime is harsh, and it perceives Lebanon not through the lens of helping its allies, but rather subjugating its enemies. This regime cannot abide by the fact that the “October Uprising” maintains the demand to determine the relationship with Damascus, or the overlapping demands with those of the Syrian people, of freedom and a dignified life.

Therefore, it is not unlikely that the regime will sense the possibility of retaliation, albeit limited, at this stage of the political transformations that began in 2005 and developed in 2011, allowing the Lebanese to turn their backs on Damascus.

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