Updated 35 minutes ago
The Syrian government said that it welcomes Lebanon’s request to import Egyptian gas to generate electricity through its territory, following the visit of a high-level Lebanese ministerial delegation to Damascus, for the first time in 10 years.
Lebanon suffers from an acute shortage of fuel that has led to disruptions in basic services such as hospitals, some of which have been closed, and others have been forced to postpone operations.
The fuel crisis in Lebanon is a branch of a broader financial crisis that has been ravaging the Lebanese economy since 2019.
The ministerial delegation, led by Zina Akkar, who holds several positions in the Lebanese caretaker government, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, opened the door to a US-backed plan that would allow her country to import electricity through the Syrian electric grid.
The Secretary-General of the Syrian-Lebanese Higher Council, Nasri Khoury, said in a brief statement, after the meeting: “The Syrian government agreed to the request and confirmed its readiness to implement it.”
The plan includes using Egyptian gas to generate electricity in Jordan, and then transferring it to Lebanon through the Syrian electrical network.
The US sanctions imposed on Damascus complicate any attempt to help Lebanon through Syria, but members of the US Congress, who visited Beirut recently, confirmed that Washington is considering how to deal with these obstacles as soon as possible.
The US ambassador to Beirut, Dorothy Shea, also confirmed that there is a desire to facilitate the implementation of the plan.
On the border, the Syrian Foreign Minister, Faisal Miqdad, received the Lebanese delegation, which included the Ministers of Energy and Finance.
Successive Lebanese governments have avoided engaging in the Syrian armed conflict since it erupted in 2011, although Hezbollah sent its operatives to fight alongside government forces in Damascus.
This visit follows the Lebanese President’s statement last month that Washington agreed to help Lebanon obtain gas and electricity from Egypt and Jordan via Syria.
This means that the United States is ready to lift Western sanctions that prohibit any official dealings with the Syrian government. These sanctions thwarted Lebanon’s attempts to obtain gas from Egypt.
The announcement also comes after Hezbollah said that Iran would begin sending fuel to Lebanon. The Oil Ships Monitoring website, Denier Tracker, confirmed that the first two ships had already set off.
Lebanon is suffering under a severe economic crisis described by the World Bank as the worst in modern history.
The Central Bank of Lebanon is finding it difficult to import basic items such as fuel, which has led to shortages and long power cuts of up to 22 hours a day.