Lebanon is set to sign a ‘final’ gas deal with Egypt on 21 June to import gas from Egypt through Syria, according to a statement from the Lebanese Energy Ministry to Reuters on 17 June.
The plan to import energy to Lebanon from Egypt and Jordan via Syria was brokered by the US just after Hezbollah sought to import Iranian fuel to avert the man-made fuel shortage plaguing the country.
However, to this day, Washington has yet to issue a sanctions waiver to remove liability to US sanctions under the Caesar Act for the countries involved in the deal.
The IMF recently refused to finance the project.
According to Reuters, a US official stated that after the final deal between Lebanon and Egypt is signed, Washington will “evaluate” if the deal is in compliance with sanctions on Syria and if a waiver can be issued.
The gas cannot flow without this waiver. If approved, however, the increased fuel supplies would allow state electricity providers to give 10 hours of electricity per day.
The deputy secretary general of Hezbollah, Sheikh Naim Qassem, stated that the US sabotaged its own plan by pushing the IMF to block the loan for this project, in addition to delaying the sanctions waiver.
“The US administration does not have a problem with starving the Lebanese population to achieve its plan, which also serves Israel,” Sheikh Qassem said.
According to the top Hezbollah official, the IMF refusal to finance the project was tied directly to the US administration.
Hezbollah has repeatedly warned that the promises made by the US are false and will never come to fruition.
In a speech on 8 March, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned of the lack of assurances from the US on this energy-sharing project.
“Have the Lebanese officials obtained [something] from the Americans who are only offering false promises? To this day, the US State Department has not given Egypt and Jordan documents exempting them from the Caesar Act,” Nasrallah said.
Hezbollah has repeatedly requested that the Lebanese government accept standing infrastructure offers from the Iranian, Russian, and Chinese governments, which would help resolve the energy crisis in Lebanon.
The governments of Iran, Russia and China would also accept payments for infrastructure projects in Lebanese lira instead of foreign currencies, given the dwindling foreign currency reserves of the Lebanese Central Bank.
However, to date, the Lebanese state has ignored all such offers, despite the compounding crises affecting the nation.
During a recent visit to Lebanon, the EU Special Representative for the Peace Process in West Asia, Sven Koopmans, reportedly made an offer to Lebanese officials to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for much-needed aid in food, medicine, and energy.
This offer, described as tantamount to blackmail, reportedly promoted normalization as a ‘final solution’ for Lebanon. It was made in order to receive western help to overcome the severe economic meltdown that has ravaged Lebanon since 2019.
“You are not able to solve your crises and have not participated in peace negotiations before. We are now offering the doors open to the peace process, which will reflect prosperity on you,” the EU envoy told Lebanese officials, according to sources cited by Al-Akhbar.
Lebanon’s multiple crises have seen over 80 percent of the population plunge below the poverty line, a currency loss of over 95 percent of its value, and fuel shortages that leave most of the country with no access to electricity.