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Lebanon’s New Victory…

Lebanon’s New Victory…

Thursday, 16 June, 2022 - 11:15

Lebanon emerged victorious then, imposing Line 23 on Israel as the maritime borderline separating the two country’s economic zones. Lebanon’s victory, which would be added to the President and his resistance’s long list of achievements, hinges on overcoming a minor obstacle: getting Israel to recognize this border.

Many have become weary of the story of Lebanon changing its demands because of its representatives’ ineptitude, with opportunism coming into play and becoming a decisive factor in determining the area of its economic zone, and the country’s officials attempting to exploit US support for Lebanon’s position for political gain. The weary are aware that in the end, another “victory” for the ruling regime and its allies will be attained, regardless of the demarcation line that the Lebanese-American-Israeli fair will agree to.

Lebanon’s rulers have no solution for the collapse of the state, the disintegration of society, and the death of the economy and education, under their hats. Their strategy is limited to promoting illusions of victories that will not have any material impact in the foreseeable future. This so-called victory is just another big lie that can be added to the long list that Lebanese politicians have been trying to sell aggrieved citizens ready to cling on to any shadow of hope that will be freed from their suffering in the midst of the wreckage of what used to be a homeland.

In other words, given the current situation in Lebanon, the question of whether Line 29- which the Lebanese authorities demanded for a while before abandoning it- or its alternative, Line 23- which lies further north and whose critics say leaves hundreds of square kilometers of water, oil and gas under it for Israel- is inconsequential. Both lines would be of equal value in today’s Lebanon, as it cannot benefit from either of them. Nothing will come of the US envoy being told that Lebanon has decided to stick to Line 23 but for opportunistic and meaningless claims to heroism and a majority victory. Those making these empty claims are merely seeking to cover up their scandalous performance at the negotiating table.

Going from declarations of victories to actually extracting the resources in the sea takes years of work in cooperation of companies working in this field, a complicated process. Some progress has been made over the past few years, but no guarantees of any oil and gas came out of it. Indeed, the companies that conducted the 2020 studies on Block 4 concluded that extracting the gas there would not be economically viable.

However, such “minor details” did not stand in the establishment’s way. They continued to invent stories, the most popular of which are those regarding a natural gas field named Qana, after the village in south Lebanon where Jesus Christ made his first miracles according to the Bible and where Israel committed a notorious massacre in 1996. Not a single serious and credible research has confirmed that this imagined field has any gas. The illusions surrounding the Qana gas field need a miracle to become a reality.

However, what matters is not whether or not there is oil and gas in Lebanese waters. What matters, as far as the Lebanese authorities are concerned, is selling the meat before hunting the prey and reselling it to anyone who shows signs of being gullible, needy, and in poverty. Hezbollah’s Secretary-General linked Lebanon’s salvation from its economic catastrophe to the extraction of oil and gas. Actually, he put a number, in US dollars, on the sum every Lebanese citizen will receive when the money flows from the sea- pie in the sky. An immense effort like that to access the reservoirs in the sea and to exploit its oil and gas demands more than a “televised speech” and much more than some cheerful tweets about the courageous positions of President Michel Aoun, his friends, and advisors.

Putting to one side the useless companies that will play the unnecessary role of mediating between the foreign companies, that will conduct the explorations and extract the oil and gas, and the Lebanese state, which the establishment set up over seven years ago to manage and distribute the Lebanese political class’s appropriation of the lion’s share of the oil wealth as part of the presidential settlement that brought Michel Aoun to the Baabda Palace, we find only the traditional Lebanese framework of managing plunder and the exploitation of the country’s wealth through sectarian quotas.

The question is not whether Line 29 or 23 are agreed to. It never was. It has always been a smokescreen. The real question is how the country’s resources are managed and invested. Who will reap the benefits: is it all the Lebanese, represented by a state with minimal corruption- or let us say a state that suffers from corruption but is not so corrupt as to be paralyzed and not have the public interest as its supreme goal? Or will it be those who led Lebanon to destruction and climbed over the wreckage searching for remains of its wealth?

It seems that neither Lebanese in general, nor those representing the forces for change that emerged from the latest parliamentary elections that validated the old way of doing things, nor the balance of power among the country’s social and political forces, are not able to exploit the country’s resources, nor organize the wealth ensuing from that process, outside the framework of sectarian-quota-based spoil-sharing that has been in place for decades. As for talks of wealth in the sea, the extraction of which will lead to prosperity and affluence, it is just an obnoxious joke like those making it.

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