Israeli Gas to Be Pumped to Syria and Lebanon through Arab Pipeline to Curb Iran’s Influence

In this Monday, March 29, 2021 file photo, the capital city of Beirut remains in darkness during a power outage as the sun sets, in Lebanon. (AP)
In this Monday, March 29, 2021 file photo, the capital city of Beirut remains in darkness during a power outage as the sun sets, in Lebanon. (AP)
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Israeli Gas to Be Pumped to Syria and Lebanon through Arab Pipeline to Curb Iran’s Influence

In this Monday, March 29, 2021 file photo, the capital city of Beirut remains in darkness during a power outage as the sun sets, in Lebanon. (AP)
In this Monday, March 29, 2021 file photo, the capital city of Beirut remains in darkness during a power outage as the sun sets, in Lebanon. (AP)

The gas that will be pumped to Lebanon through the Arab pipeline, which stretches from Egypt, Jordan and Syria, is mostly Israeli. The electricity that will be sent to Lebanon through Syria and Jordan is also mostly Israeli, in line with an agreement that was drafted years ago by senior US diplomat Amos Hochstein.

Just days ago, Hochstein himself sponsored border negotiations between Lebanon and Israel. He informed Beirut that the Arab Gas Pipeline will be exempted from the Caesar Act sanctions imposed by Washington on Syria. The US official was also behind a Jordanian-Israeli deal in 2014 that sought to promote an “axis of moderation in the Middle East between moderate Arab countries and Israel.”

Beyond the technical and economic aspects of the new gas deal, several signs indicate that it is ultimately aimed at confronting Iran’s influence in Lebanon and Syria. The greatest evidence of this is that the deal was announced just days within Tehran’s announcement that it was sending oil derivatives to Lebanon through Syria. Beyond the region, Moscow and Washington are also seeing eye-to-eye on this issue despite their varying motives and goals.

A western official quoted a senior Russian official as saying that Israel was the one who encouraged Russia and the US to force the return of the Damascus regime to southern Syria and agree to delivering energy to Lebanon. Israel believes that such a move will help confront Iran’s influence in Lebanon and Syria, said the Russian official. Furthermore, CIA chief William Burns, who had toured the region in recent months, was also involved in the gas deal, which was also backed by National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk.

Drafting the deal demanded extensive efforts and coordination: Establishing security in southern Syria where the gas and energy networks will pass through. Indeed, Russia led “settlements” in recent months that have seen the return of government forces along the border with Jordan. The opposition was forced out of the area, mines are being removed and Amman has since improved its relations with Damascus, with Jordan’s King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar Assad holding a telephone conversation early in October. Moreover, the Amman-Damascus highway was reopened and discussions have been held over border security and providing incentives to Damascus.

Ministerial meetings between Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Syria have also been held to overcome obstacles in the operation of the gas pipeline and energy network. Also part of the deal is Washington’s pledge to Moscow that the World Bank will fund the project through assistance to Lebanon’s Electricite du Liban (EDL).

Notably, US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea informed Lebanese President Michel Aoun that Washington had agreed to the proposal after holding telephone talks with the Egyptian and Israeli energy ministers. Those talks focused on “future plan to deliver Israeli gas for liquification in Egyptian plants before their export.” Israeli sources said the plan called for “delivering the Israeli gas through natural gas plants in Egypt ahead of their export to a third country.”

Egyptian and Israeli companies have struck several agreements over the years. In 2018, they agreed to the delivery of 64 billion cubic meters of Israeli gas from the Tamar and Leviathan Mediterranean fields to Egypt. The deal is valid for ten years and was worth 15 billion dollars. After Egypt declared self-sufficiency in gas production, it announced that the import of Israeli gas transforms it into a regional energy hub.

On the Jordanian front, Hochstein had kicked off negotiations over an electricity deal between Amman and Tel Aviv in 2012. Years later, Jordan’s National Electric Power Company reached an agreement with the American company representing the Leviathan field over the delivery of 45 cubic meters of gas for electricity production.

Washington’s interest in this project was piqued in order to provide political cover for the gas and electricity projects for Lebanon. American officials informed their Arab counterparts that the projects will be exempt from the Caesar Act that came into effect in mid-2020. Beirut, Cairo and Amman still demanded written guarantees and Hochstein informed the Lebanese officials of the exemptions.

In spite of the technical and political challenges, such as fixing the actual pipeline, removing mines and protecting the border, Washington has sought to remove legal obstacles and Moscow has sought to remove the military ones all for mainly political purposes, as opposed to economic ones.



Israel-Hezbollah War... More Severe than ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’

An Israeli firefighter aircraft drops flame retardant on fires smoke after rockets fired from southern Lebanon hit an area in the Upper Galilee region in northern Israel on July 4, 2024. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)
An Israeli firefighter aircraft drops flame retardant on fires smoke after rockets fired from southern Lebanon hit an area in the Upper Galilee region in northern Israel on July 4, 2024. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)
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Israel-Hezbollah War... More Severe than ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’

An Israeli firefighter aircraft drops flame retardant on fires smoke after rockets fired from southern Lebanon hit an area in the Upper Galilee region in northern Israel on July 4, 2024. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)
An Israeli firefighter aircraft drops flame retardant on fires smoke after rockets fired from southern Lebanon hit an area in the Upper Galilee region in northern Israel on July 4, 2024. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)

In conflicts, both sides often set traps for each other. Yet today, in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, it appears both sides are falling into their own traps.

In the current Israel-Hezbollah conflict, despite denying interest in widening the war, both are moving towards escalation.

Israel continues military drills for expansion, supported by polls showing public backing, though decreasing recently. This support concerns Tel Aviv’s military leaders, who fear the public underestimates the war’s consequences.

Former Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata warns such a war could devastate parts of Lebanon and cause significant harm in Israel, potentially resulting in around 15,000 deaths.

The Terrorism Research Institute at Reichman University conducted a study with 100 military and academic experts on potential war scenarios with Hezbollah.

Their findings were alarming: they warned that such a conflict could quickly escalate across multiple fronts, involving Iranian militias in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, alongside Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank.

The study predicted that Hezbollah could launch a daily barrage of 2,500 to 3,000 rockets for 21 days, targeting military bases, cities like Tel Aviv, and critical infrastructure such as power plants, gas fields, desalination plants, airports, and weapon depots.

This onslaught would likely cause widespread chaos among Israelis.

Furthermore, Hezbollah might employ its strategy of sending “Radwan” units to infiltrate Israeli borders and occupy towns, similar to Hamas’ actions during operation Al-Aqsa Flood on Oct. 7.

The “Gaza-style destruction” scenario was initially floated to dampen calls for the army to invade Lebanese territory.

The Israeli military, wary of right-wing political pressures and their own hesitations about war, countered by publicizing plans indicating serious readiness.

Leaked drills suggest they are preparing for a large-scale ground invasion, aiming to occupy southern Lebanon up to the Litani River, possibly further to the Zahrani River.

They state that if Hezbollah rejects a political deal to stay away from borders, the military will enforce this with force.

They detail that the war could start with intense airstrikes, similar to Gaza, followed by a ground invasion.

Military sources reveal Israel has received delayed US weapons, including smart bombs, set to be used in airstrikes on southern Beirut suburbs and the Bekaa region at least.

The Litani River lies four kilometers from the border at its closest and extends 29 kilometers at its furthest, covering 1,020 square kilometers. It includes three major cities: Tyre (175,000 residents), Bint Jbeil, and Marjayoun, housing half a million people, with over 100,000 displaced.

Occupying this entire area won’t be easy. Hezbollah is stronger than Hamas, with a more extensive tunnel network and advanced weaponry. They’ve long been prepared for this war.

If Israel plans a short 21-day war, nothing guarantees that timeline, risking entanglement in Lebanon’s challenges once again.

The Israeli military is gearing up for a long war, preparing emergency reserves in hospitals, factories, government offices, and shelters.

They fear Hezbollah could launch thousands of rockets and drones, targeting key infrastructure like power plants, water desalination facilities, and gas wells.

Recent drills also factor in possible direct Iranian involvement, which could disrupt Red Sea shipping and possibly lead to strikes on Cyprus. This means all of Israel could face serious threats.

The Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies reports that Hezbollah has already fired over 5,000 projectiles from Lebanon, causing 33 deaths and extensive damage to both civilian and military targets in Israel.

There’s growing concern about the future of northern Israel, including 28 evacuated settlements and the city of Kiryat Shmona, whose residents are uncertain when they can safely return home.