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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/12/21

Electricity for Syria and Lebanon depends on the US

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Yesterday in Jordan, the energy ministers of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan met and agreed on a plan to supply Lebanon with Egyptian natural gas to convert into electricity. The joint press conference confirmed they all had agreed to revive the Arab Gas Pipeline (AGP) which links Egyptian gas to Jordan, where it will be used to produce additional electricity for the network linking Jordan with Lebanon via Syria.

This follows a meeting in Damascus on September 4 between Lebanese and Syrian officials discussing the Lebanese request to import gas from Egypt and electricity from Jordan through the Syrian territory.

However, US sanctions on Syria are holding up the smooth process to help beleaguered Lebanon, where the public has no access to electricity and gas, and even water is scarce.

Egypt and Jordan are pressuring the Biden administration to waive the Syrian sanctions under the Caesar Act, to facilitate the multi-faceted regional deal to go through. The Caesar Act was passed by the US Congress to hurt the Syrian government, but has instead made the Syrian public suffer in a multitude of ways from currency devaluation to hyperinflation.

Currently, Syria is suffering from a severe lack of electricity, with most homes living on 3-4 hours per day. Gasoline-powered generators are not the solution, as there is also a severe shortage of gasoline, which is rationed. As bad as the situation is in Syria because of US sanctions, the situation in Lebanon is even far worse.

The World Bank has offered to provide funding for the project, but is worried about corruption among the Lebanese ruling elite, who are responsible for the dire situation in Lebanon, which the World Bank has said is the worse financial crisis in 150 years.

In a press conference on September 4, the Secretary-General of the Lebanese-Syrian Higher Council, Nasri Khoury, said: "The Lebanese side demanded Syria's assistance to Lebanon in obtaining Egyptian gas and Jordanian electricity through Syrian territory. The Syrian side affirmed Syria's readiness to meet that request."

Lebanon crisis

Lebanon has descended into severe failure after the public revolted against the systemic corruption of the ruling elite. The government failed to provide even the most basic of services: water, gasoline, food, and electricity. Many hospitals have closed, and those open struggle to find medicine.

In the wake of the Lebanese collapse, an effort was made to draw electrical energy from Jordan through Syria, by providing quantities of Egyptian gas to Jordan, enabling it to produce additional quantities of electricity to be placed on the grid linking Jordan with Lebanon via Syria.

Egypt had supplied Lebanon with gas in 2009 and 2010, but supplies ended soon after as Egypt's gas production dwindled. Egypt restarted exporting gas through the pipeline in 2018, but the gas has overwhelmingly been going to Jordan.

Electricite du Liban signed a deal with Iraq to buy heavy fuel oil to be converted into electricity, which should cover around one third of EDL's fuel needs, and supply the country for about four months.

Egyptian gas is planned to reach Lebanon to operate gas-fired power stations, which have been out of service for 11 years.

Washington is also being asked to grant a separate license to Jordan to distribute electricity from its power grid to Lebanon, which would need to pass through Syria.

Syrian crisis

The US government has placed Syria under strict oil-sector sanctions, which make the AGP deal complicated for all the regional stakeholders.

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I am Steven Sahiounie Syrian American award winning journalist and political commentator Living in Lattakia Syria and I am the chief editor of MidEastDiscours I have been reporting about Syria and the Middle East for about 8 years

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