Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, on Friday issued a statement indicating that the country would now be able to import electricity and gas from Egypt and Jordan, without fear of US sanctions. This came after a meeting between Mikati and US ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shei, after which Shei stated, “They [the Lebanese government] wanted to make sure that in pursuing the regional energy deals, that the United States has been helping to facilitate – and encourage – (discourse) between Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan that there would be no concerns with US sanctions legislation.”
The deals, which would allow Lebanon to receive access to Jordanian electricity fed through the Arab Interconnection grid and to Egyptian gas, would see both transit Syria, which is currently under US sanctions. The Egyptian gas pipeline, which runs through Syria, has recently been fixed after being damaged in the early years of the, thus far unsuccessful, uprising. Washington had been negotiating these IMF funded deals as a means of ensuring an alternative to Hezbollah’s intention to obtain Iranian fuel, despite the fact that many members of congress have cautioned that these may unintendedly help rehabilitate the Asad regime.
Lebanon has faced an economic crisis since 2019, with the Lebanese pound falling from 1 500 to the Dollar to 31 000 as of 14 January 2022. Hyperinflation has resulted, and over 75% of Lebanese are now living under the poverty line.
Electricity shortages have been a consequence, with most only receiving around 2 hours of government electricity daily. Further, the amount used to fill a tank of fuel in the country is equivalent to almost 60% of the average Lebanese salary, leaving Lebanese devastated.