Sending Gas to Lebanon Via Syria Unlikely to Violate Sanctions, Senior US Official Says Looped in ‘Line by Line’, Hezbollah Shows Pragmatic Side in Lebanon-Israel Deal Biden Just Pulled off a Big Diplomatic Victory-and Almost No One Noticed
Sending Gas to Lebanon Via Syria Unlikely to Violate Sanctions, Senior US Official Says During a webinar hosted by the American Task Force on Lebanon and the Middle East Institute, US Special Coordinator for Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein stated that the US is continuing to pursue the Levantine Energy Deal, which will see Egyptian gas and Jordan electricity transmitted to Lebanon via Syria. “The US has always been committed to getting that deal through,” Hochstein said. “We are going to work with the World Bank and Treasury Department to make sure that it first doesn’t affect any sanctions, which I think we are okay on, but we will have to have a determination formally.” [Middle East Eye]
Special Presidential Coordinator Amos Hochstein clarified that the ball is in Lebanon’s court on two remaining issues in order to satisfy the World Bank requirements to get gas and electricity flowing: raising an electric tariff to a realistic rate which is now nearly complete according to US and Lebanese officials; and, beginning the process of establishing a electricity regulatory authority with professional appointees. This would increase electricity provided to Lebanese citizens from two hours per day to more than eight. This also provides critical temporary relief to Lebanese citizens until a more permanent electricity solution is introduced. This could be a quick and easy fix if the government can move on this issue in the coming weeks.
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel
Looped in ‘Line by Line’, Hezbollah Shows Pragmatic Side in Lebanon-Israel Deal Analysts have observed that after a decade of regional activity, including sending arms and soldiers to aid the Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah is pivoting its focus back to Lebanon. Others have noted the group also ascended to the deal because it was pragmatically good for the Lebanese people, which some identify as a notable example of the group choosing pragmatism over ideology. [Reuters]
The details provide an interesting look at Hezbollah as being able to recognize benefits to the Lebanese people who would suffer from their expected ideological opposition to such a deal. Does this portend more pragmatism, let’s say, in choosing the next president of Lebanon, or accepting the IMF conditions, or any of the other issues that make up Lebanon’s national agenda? Only time will tell if Lebanon is on the cusp of a breakthrough in decision-making that puts the people first.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Biden Just Pulled off a Big Diplomatic Victory-and Almost No One Noticed Max Boot, with the Washington Post, emphasizes how truly historic this accomplishment is for the Biden Administration. He states that while the deal may not be as attention grabbing as the Abraham Accords, it is in many ways a more surprising accomplishment. Reason being, unlike the case with Lebanon, none of the participating Arab states in the Abraham Accords were in a technical state of war with Israel and none of them shared a border with it. [Washington Post]
Those dismissive of US diplomatic foreign policy have to give credit where credit is due. Other administrations have tried to resolve the boundary conflict and failed, but Biden’s team pulled it off. Importantly, this agreement also reclaims some credibility for US leadership in supporting regional security and stability given its broad consequences. Now, let’s see if Israel can stop its alleged incursions into Lebanese territorial waters and airspace that provide unneeded provocations to their opponents. And let’s see if the LAF and UNIFIL will have greater freedom to pursue their mandate in the south.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.