The Saudi Captagon problem is not a Lebanese one

While Lebanon is indeed one source of the Captagon drug trade to Saudi Arabia, Riyadh entirely ignores the basic economics that have made it a hub for this nasty narcotic.

June 22 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle
Radwan Murtada is a Beirut-based journalist who has written for Al Akhbar since 2007 and has contributed to many foreign media outlets on political, criminal, social and judiciary affairs in Lebanon and the wider region. Radwan is a specialist on Islamic jihadist groups, and honed his connections and craft during the Syrian conflict, interviewing both Al Qaeda and ISIS leaders for various outlets. He is the founder of Blue House Film, a Beirut production company specializing in documentaries, and is the author of the book “How the Syrian Revolution Grew its Beard.” In 2020, he founded “The Hub” with a group of regional journalists and producers that provides news and media services to foreign journalists covering West Asia.

By Radwan Mortada

Captagon is an amphetamine-type stimulant widely consumed across parts of West Asia its production, trafficking and usage have grown exponentially over the past decade with the illicit industry said to be worth $5 billion per year.

Dubbed “the poor man’s cocaine,” these narcotics are particularly prevalent among combatants fighting in the region’s conflict zones, purportedly to keep fighters alert and enhance their aggressiveness.

The Levant-Gulf drug trade

The highly addictive drug, however, is mostly consumed in Arab states of the Persian Gulf, with Saudi Arabia reportedly the number one destination where it is sought after by young party-goers.

Syria has emerged as a leading source for cheaply-manufactured Captagon while neighbouring Lebanon has also become a key transit hub for the pills, leading some to describe the two countries as “narco-states,” driven by both conflict and corruption.

Indeed, some Lebanese and Syrian villages have become the headquarters of clandestine factories, forming a corridor through which tens of millions of pills are smuggled to the lucrative Gulf market.

It is worth pointing out that the two Levant neighbors are not new to the illicit drug trade – in 1997 the US removed both countries from its list of Narcotics List, owing to their perceived successful eradication of poppy and cannabis cultivation in the then-Syrian controlled Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon.

To this day, Lebanon is the fourth-biggest producer of hashish after Morocco, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Amid the burgeoning economic crisis in 2020, it became the first Arab country to legalize cannabis farming for medical and industrial purposes.

Captagon and the conflict in Syria

The Captagon phenomenon in the Levant, however, can arguably be traced to the Syrian battlefield, as foreign fighters began pouring into the country in 2012.

In one notable incident that year, machines used to manufacture Captagon pills were seized in a religious seminary in the Bekaa, belonging to the brother of Hussein Al-Moussawi, an MP and member of the Hezbollah-led Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc. Moussawi’s relationship to the culprit prompted Hezbollah’s opponents to link the movement to the Captagon trade.

As the political and humanitarian situation in Syria deteriorated, Captagon smuggling networks soon developed in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Its trade flourished, and Lebanon eventually became a primary source of the product, with the Gulf market proving to be its main consumer market.

The Saudi ‘Prince of Captagon’

Saudi Prince Caught With 2 Tons Of ISIS’s Favourite Drugs In Lebanon

The voluminous Captagon trade linking Saudi Arabia to Lebanon gained wider attention in October 2015 when a Saudi prince was caught red-handed with two tons of Captagon pills and some cocaine in a private jet at Beirut International Airport.

Prince Abdel Mohsen bin Walid bin Abdulaziz, dubbed by the media as the ‘Prince of Captagon,’ was arrested, along with four companions, standing accused of drug trafficking, promotion, and smuggling.

It was by no means an isolated case: according to a source cited by Saudi Leaks last year, princes from the royal family are involved in communicating with drug networks in Lebanon.

Blaming Hezbollah

In conjunction with the millions of Captagon pills that were being smuggled into the high-demand Saudi market, a media campaign raged on multiple fronts. Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV channel broke the story of the Saudi prince’s arrest on drug smuggling charges, so Riyadh employed its region-wide media networks to finger Lebanon, and particularly Hezbollah, for drugs flooding the Gulf.

In the information warfare that followed, Saudi-owned TV channel Al-Arabiya broadcast several news reports focusing on Hezbollah’s role in manufacturing Captagon pills.

In line with US and Israeli accusations that Hezbollah is involved in drug trafficking and organized crime to finance its “terrorist activities,” Saudi Arabia insists on highlighting a Hezbollah role every time a drug smuggling operation is discovered in its territory, and uses this to tighten the economic siege on Lebanon.

While the Saudis may be embarrassed over the Captagon scandals linked to their country, royals and nationals, their intensive media efforts to divert blame to Lebanon has become part of Riyadh’s economic war against Beirut, which has extended to an all-imports ban of Lebanese goods.

Supply and demand

As with any other trade, the Captagon market is based on supply and demand, which is a reciprocal relationship: an increase in supply in the country of origin is based on an increase in demand in the importing country.

However, it is a one-sided dynamic, because while the operations in, for example, Lebanon are thwarted and those involved are arrested, this is rarely the case on the other side due to the royal connection.

On 29 May, Lebanese security arrested a Saudi citizen at Beirut airport with 18 kilograms of Captagon pills, the man was attempting to smuggle them to Kuwait.

Al-Manar TV

Identified as Adel Al-Shammari, he was carrying a Kuwaiti security card when he was arrested, but initial news broadcasts mistakenly identified him as a Saudi security employee.

In a statement, Lebanon’s Minister of Interior Bassam al-Mawlawi hastened to deny the news that the Saudi detainee had a Saudi police card.

Further investigations led to the arrest of two Iraqis and a Jordanian woman. A security source revealed to The Cradle that an officer in the Kuwaiti army and a Sudanese and Lebanese national were linked to the smuggling operation.

It was also revealed that, based on the fact that his Saudi nationality grants him immunity and quick passage through the security services, Al-Shammari’s bags were not professionally packed, and the Captagon pills were casually placed in bags between the clothes.

Worth the risk?

The estimated cost of producing one Captagon pill, along with the cost of smuggling it, is about 85 cents, and it is sold in the Saudi market for between 10 and 20 dollars. Thus, a wide margin of profit explains the insistence of smugglers on delivering these pills to where the demand for them is the highest.

Even if five smuggled shipments are thwarted by authorities, it is enough for a merchant to succeed in delivering one Captagon shipment to reap millions of dollars in profit.

The consideration here is purely financial, unlike the politically-motivated narrative the Saudis and their allies promote to settle political scores against Lebanon and Hezbollah.

These charges are in line with Israeli and western accusations that the party is involved in drug smuggling and other forms of organized crime, used to fund “terrorist activities.”

The region’s drug capital

report published last year by Foreign Policy magazine noted that Saudi Arabia is West Asia’s “drug capital,” highlighting that the seizures of Captagon have become a regular occurrence in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

The increasing number of drug smuggling busts in Saudi Arabia in recent years suggests that there are Saudi and Gulf suppliers on the other side who receive the goods and handle their distribution.

It is interesting to note, however, that the Saudi government – which likes to blame Lebanon for every smuggling operation – has never revealed the identities of any of the major local traders, with the exception of those from the Indian, Filipino and other expat communities.

Instead, Riyadh prefers to exploit the matter and shift the blame entirely to Lebanon’s Hezbollah as part of its global propaganda campaign against the resistance movement. With these kinds of blinkers on, Captagon use in Saudi Arabia will just keep expanding.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

The Post-Lebanese Elections Era: Will Newly-elected MPs Lead the Country on the Way to Salvation?

May 22, 2022

By Mohammad Youssef

The results of Lebanon’s parliamentary elections 2022 have presented a new political scene that would show a new shift in the conduct of the voters. The success of those who refer to themselves as independents and change-seekers would necessarily present a new approach to the whole spectrum.

All of the above is true, with the exception of the US hopes to undermine the credibility of Hezbollah, and to show a kind of decline in the people’s trust towards the resistance. Hezbollah as a party gained more parliamentary seats than before. The party’s parliamentary bloc has gained two more seats, one in Jbeil and the other one in Baalbek.

The importance of this gain is that it comes against the backdrop of a fierce American-Saudi campaign against the party.

Lebanon and the Lebanese now are waiting to see what kind of alliances will take place inside the parliament, especially that the elections did not produce a clear majority.

Hezbollah is convinced that the majority is not a crucial factor to help make the state machines work smoothly, rather it could be a hindrance and a burden at this time.

Hezbollah and its allies had the majority in the previous parliament, which did not serve its goals in any way.

This new race has brought 29 new parliamentarians who do not belong to the traditional parties. The way they might choose to make their alliances and the political platform they might adopt will necessarily effect the whole scene.

The free patriotic movement has emerged to have the largest number of deputies in the new parliament, while Hezbollah parliamentary bloc has won the highest preferential votes in the country which clearly reflects the wide popularity, and the large support it continues to enjoy in the Lebanese society.

The continuous pressure, siege and sanctions against Lebanon and the Lebanese, particularly against Hezbollah supporters by the United States and its western and Arab Gulf allies did not bring any tangible result and did not lead to any rift or wedge between the party and its popular base, contrary to this, it led to consolidate its popularity.

The new parliament has to shoulder a host of chronic and very complicated monetary, financial, economic, social, and health problems in the crisis-rotten country. The situation is so critical that it cannot tolerate any political adolescence or amateurish behavior and immature political statements that the Lebanese started to hear from certain new MPs.

Lebanon is on the verge of collapse and needs an urgent effort to secure a way to salvation.

Any escalation or counter escalation in any level will aggravate the situation and make any glimpse of hope almost impossible.

The voice of wisdom should prevail and a statesman policy should be advocated to address the numerous critical problems.

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has always represented this voice, and extended a hand of cooperation to this end. Will the other party or parties receive and respond to this positively? This is what we expect to see in the few coming days.

Meanwhile, we pray that the other parties make only pure Lebanese calculations away from the diktats of foreign countries who only look after their own interests and not ours!

Lebanon Heading to Blackout, Humiliation in Lines under a US Embassy Decision – Info-graphics

March 9, 2022

By Al-Ahed News

Reading in the positions of Mr. Nasrallah with d. Waseem Bazzi

Sayyed Nasrallah: Were Hezbollah Ruling Lebanon, US Embassy in Beirut Would Never Intervene in Domestic Issues

March 8, 2022

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah stressed on Tuesday that trusting the promises of the US administration is matter of foolishness, urging the Lebanese officials to emancipate themselves from the US hegemony.

Addressing Hezbollah Wounded Fighter Day ceremony, Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that the US pressures on the Lebanese officials are preventing them from approving an agreement with a Russian oil firm.

Sayyed Nasrallah narrated that a Russian oil firm offered to build a refinery and provide the crude oil without costing the Lebanese government to pay fresh dollars, adding that the firm accepts the Lebanese national pound to be paid in return.

“The firm offered to refine 160,000 barrels of oil, or 200,000 barrels, through the large refinery. This would cover the Lebanese it needs. Lebanon would export oil derivatives, and the company sells the state in Lebanese pounds.”

His eminence clarified that such an agreement would enable Lebanon to cope with its power crisis and gasoline shortage, adding that the US embassy in Beirut has prevented the Lebanese officials from concluding the deal in order to avoid witnessing quarrels and brawls at gas stations.

Were Hezbollah ruling Lebanon, this agreement would have been concluded one year and a half ago, Sayyed Nasrallah confirmed.

In this regard, Sayyed Nasrallah urged Lebanese president and council of ministers to approve the agreement with the Russian firm, saying, “If you want to please USA, you must know that their demands are limitless.”

If you start submitting to the US dictates, you will not be able to stop, Sayyed Naasrallah addressed the Lebanese officials.

Sayyed Nasrallah called on the Lebanese officials to keep committed to freedom, independence, national interest and patriotism, adding that Lebanon has never benefited from the US false promises.

Sayyed Nasrallah noted that the US State Department has not yet provided Egypt and Jordan with any official waiver in order to allow the gas and power transaction to Lebanon to occur, adding that US ambassador to Lebanon power pledge was a mere false promise.

Sayyed Nasrallah called on the Lebanese officials to show the Americans that Lebanon can have several economic choices, in order to push them to make concessions or give alternatives, adding that Hezbollah accepts that oil firms invest in Lebanon oil sector if they manage to end  the crisis.

Tell the Americans that the Lebanese are not their slaves in order to preserve the national sovereignty, Sayyed Nasrallah addressed the Lebanese officials.

Providing another evidence that Hezbollah does not control the state in Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted the Lebanese official condemnation of Russian operation in Ukraine.

Sayyed Nasrallah pointed out that Lebanon should have refrained from voting for the UN denunciation of the Russian operation in Ukraine, adding that the Lebanese Foreign Ministry statement which denounced the Russian operation was drafted by the US embassy in Beirut.

Sayyed Nasrallah wondered how the neutrality proponents in Lebanon refrained from rejecting the Lebanese Foreign Ministry statement which involves Lebanon in a dispute with a great country, Russia.

Sayyed Nasrallah noted that all the neutrality calls on Lebanon were aimed at averting assuming the responsibilities towards the Palestinian cause, Syria, and Yemen in order to please the US administration.

“Hezbollah rejects neutrality, but why have neutrality proponents abandoned their principle in the case of the Ukrainian war?” Sayyed Nasrallah asked.

Hezbollah Secretary General underscored the US administration’s betrayal of the Ukrainian President, adding that Volodymyr Zelensky’s disappointment  about the West’s unkept promises of support in face of Russia is reflected in his readiness to compromise.

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that trusting United States of America is matter of foolishness, stupidity, and ignorance, highlighting the moral fall of the West as reflected by the racial discrimination among the refugees in Ukraine.

Sayyed Nasrallah noted that US officials accuse Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine and disregard the American massacres in numerous countries, highlighting also the European crimes in Africa, the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the Saudi aggression on Yemen.

Sayyed Nasrallah added that the International community laments days-long siege on Ukrainian cities and disregards the Israeli blockade on Gaza as well as the Saudi blockade on Yemen.

Sayyed Nasrallah also noted that the international community resorted to silence about the US-fabricated suicide bombers’ crime of attacking a mosque in Pakistan last week.

His eminence also recalled how the US warplanes raided weddings in Afghanistan and claimed that the targets are military camps, highlighting the double-standards policy admitted by Washington.

In this regard, Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted the moral fall of the West reflected by the racial discrimination among the refugees in Ukraine.

Hezbollah Secretary General had first congratulated the faithful Muslims on the inception of Rajab Month, during which believers are supposed to prepare themselves spiritually to welcome the Holy Month of Ramadan, and the birthday of Imam Hussein (P), Al-Abbas bin Ali (P), Imam Ali bin Hussein (P).

Sayyed Nasrallah started his speech with a focus on the occasion of the Wounded Fighter Day,which falls on the birthday of Al-Abbas, the brother of third Shia Imam Hussein Bin Ali (P), highly appreciating their sacrifices for the sake of the nation.

We congregate here to express our pride of your sacrifices, struggle, steadfastness and patience, Sayyed Nasrallah said, highlighting the contribution of the wounded Resistance fighters to the victories and their repercussion on the whole national security and stability.

Sayyed Nasrallah underscored gratitude to the wounded Resistance fighters in the epoch of ungratefulness, hinting at those who forget the sacrifices of the wounded for the sake of the whole nation.

Sayyed Nasrallah also said that Imam Abbas, the role-model of the wounded Resistance fighters, was the patron who did not avert his responsibilities despite his injuries, adding that Imam Jaafar Al-Sadek (P) underscored Al-Abbas concentration on insight and firm faith.

In this regard, Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted the importance of insight which enables the person to know more about the conditions of his country and the whole region.

The ceremony was started with a recital of a number of Holy Coranic verses before one of the wounded Resistance fighters reiterated allegiance to Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Dorothy Shea’s Empty Promises

December 28 2021

Dorothy Shea

By Mohammad Youssef

When Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah first announced the party will import fuel from Iran to break the sinister cycle of the US siege, the American ambassador to Beirut Dorothy Shea, as usual, tried to belittle the achievement. She suddenly announced that Washington is ready to help and made the necessary contacts to insure the gas supplies would reach Lebanon from Egypt via Jordan and Syria.

Months after the American ambassador’s public promise, not any drop or one single cubic centimeter of gas reached to Lebanon.

Shea did not explain why her promises did not materialize, and she disrespectfully never justified to the Lebanese people her failure to deliver.

Actually, the main motive behind the ambassador hasty decision was not alleviating the people’s suffering, because it could have done so many different things to this effect, but her basic obsession was to evacuate Hezbollah decision from its content so it would not reflect positively on the Lebanese people.

The whole issue reflects genuinely Washington’s policy and stance towards the region and its people. A policy which is based on oppression, hypocrisy and arrogance.

For its part, Hezbollah made huge efforts: from intensive contacts to necessary negotiations and from deals concluding to logistic preparations, not forgetting the military and security arrangements made to insure the whole operation. Thanks and blessings to these efforts, the fuel reached to the Lebanese houses across the nation, without any discrimination and preferences, and now hundreds of thousands of Lebanese benefit from Hezbollah and Iran’s help.

This says a lot about the party’s commitment to Lebanon and the Lebanese, and that it is always there to defend, protect and help them in any calamity.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Shea never bothered herself to say anything about her deceitful promises and misleading announcement.

But many well informed circles in Washington revealed the truth about Shea’s lies!

The American ambassador received heavy blame from her administration for making such promises to the Lebanese.

Her promise has created a division inside the US administration, many influential parties and figures refused to agree upon it, as it involved a partial lift of the Siege on Syria as well.

In fact, the United States administration has the capacity and ability to help Lebanon or at least ease its crisis, but this does not boil down to its interest of suffocating the country to make it surrender and accept Washington dictations and that of the Israeli enemy.

For her part, the US ambassador can continue her game of ignoring her fake promises, but the Lebanese will remember very well her lies and will also remember that the best thing Dorothy Shea can do is to distribute few masks in Beirut streets!

Aoun’s trip to Qatar cannot change Lebanon’s fortunes; for that, he must look further east

December 05 2021

Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s trip to Qatar for help can only be a placebo for his country’s woes. To jumpstart Lebanon’s recovery, he needs to be prepared to realign with new regional actors.

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun heads to Doha to seek urgent help from Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. But Qatar can provide little compared to three other Asian powers.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Giorgio Cafiero

The crisis in Lebanon goes from bad to worse. Rolling blackouts and soaring gas prices are just some of the ordeals people face day to day. They are buying less meat while pleading with family and friends abroad to send them medicine. Much of Lebanon’s middle class has sunk into poverty. The Lebanese Lira has lost nearly all value while health crises continue to plague the country. And as the crisis grows beyond all expectations, so does public anger.

It is within this context that Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun paid a visit to Qatar on 29 November. While in Doha, Aoun met with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to discuss Lebanon’s internal crises, as well as the diplomatic row between Beirut and four of Qatar’s fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members – Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The dispute erupted in October after a Qatari news program aired comments made by Lebanon’s former Information Minister George Kordahi, criticizing the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen.

After weeks of undue pressure from Riyadh, which at times was described as tantamount to a war declaration, Kordahi was ultimately forced to resign on 3 December.

For his part Aoun, one of Hezbollah’s political allies, said he wanted Beirut’s relationship with Riyadh to improve significantly. The president of Lebanon and the emir of Qatar have both said that Arab nations need to stand by Lebanon and “overcome any flaws that might face these relations.”

What can Qatar do for Lebanon?

At this juncture questions remain about how much the Lebanese can count on Qatar for help. Doha will likely provide some form of aid, but this kind of assistance or investments are unlikely to generate much change in the Levantine nation. And while the Qataris may be able to ease some friction between Beirut and its GCC partners, it is far from clear if any Qatari mediation can help loosen the Saudi chokehold on Lebanon.

Ryan Bohl, a West Asia analyst at risk consultancy agency Stratfor/Rane, told The Cradle that Aoun’s trip to Doha could open the doors for Lebanon to receive “some humanitarian aid, especially as Qatar looks to keep its human rights defender reputation ahead of the World Cup in 2022.”

Nonetheless, Bohl also believes that there are significant limits to what Lebanon can expect from Qatar at this point. “Doha knows that Lebanon is a financial black hole, and so boosting Lebanon’s currency reserves or providing any other aid beyond humanitarian support is unlikely.”

What has become readily apparent is that GCC states have given up on Lebanon in many respects. And while Doha remains determined to assert some degree of influence through their unique history of building networks in the country, the Qataris are fully aware that Lebanon has undergone changes that make it less important to Gulf monarchies.

“[Although Doha] might agree to pay salaries of certain state employees, or [members of] the military, or potentially put some money into the central bank like the Qataris have done before, it’s unlikely to be a major investment that’s going to turn things around for Lebanon,” Dr. Andreas Krieg, assistant professor at the School of Security Studies at King’s College London, told The Cradle.

“The Qataris are aware that there are issues of corruption [in Beirut]. You’re unlikely to get very good returns on your investments,” Dr. Krieg pointed out.

As far as the diplomatic crisis goes, Qatari officials are looking to mediate between Beirut and the rest of the GCC states in an attempt to have all sides reach a consensual position to restore working relations.

This is a role Doha has been trying to play since the Saudis took it upon themselves to create a rift between its closest GCC allies and crisis-hit Lebanon.

Dr. Krieg also explained how, despite going on record to condemn the comments made by Lebanon’s former Information Minister, the Qataris also took it upon themselves to resolve the row.

“The Qataris very early on went to the Saudis and other GCC partners saying ‘we’re happy to mediate [and try] to find a solution to this,’” Dr. Krieg explains. “They received tacit approval from the Saudis to do that. So, the foreign minister was supposed to go to Lebanon. In the end he didn’t. But I think with the Lebanese president coming to Doha, this is also part of that [Qatari effort] to find a way to explore opportunities for a mediation process.”

According to West Asian analyst Ryan Bohl, Doha’s attempt to dial down the tensions “would once again serve Qatar’s ambition of being a diplomatic powerhouse and mediator as well as a humanitarian facilitator.”

But mediation by Qatar might prove unmanageable considering the firm stance Saudi Arabia and the UAE have taken against Hezbollah, as they consider the resistance group to represent Iran’s influence inside Lebanon. The clear trend among Gulf nations to withdraw resources and energy from Lebanon is not one anyone expects Qatar to reverse.

Saudi influence in Lebanon has been declining for quite some time. Nonetheless, it’s safe to conclude that neither Qatar nor any other GCC member seeks to take over Riyadh’s historic role in Lebanon. “Qatar is neither interested in a proxy struggle with Iran nor … in taking up that role of throwing good money after bad in Beirut,” Bohl says.

Yet Doha is not without experience or networks in Lebanon. Back in the 2000s, the Qataris were involved in the reconstruction of southern Lebanon and took part in mediation efforts between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government.

Today, Doha could build on those networks which position it as a Gulf state with a non-sectarian agenda in the Levantine nation and which has working relations with all major communities in Lebanon.

Lebanon’s bleak situation atop the rift between Beirut and four GCC states offer Doha an opportunity to assert further influence in the country.

Looking east, toward rising economies

Lebanon, in its current form, will likely experience a future where neither western nor GCC states are going to be willing to help with its crises. It might therefore be easy to imagine influential Lebanese figures joining Hassan Nasrallah in the belief that Lebanon must pivot to Chinese and Russian orbits of influence.

Tehran’s influence in Beirut is not a factor that would deter either Beijing or Moscow from assisting Lebanon. This constitutes a major contrast to western powers and most GCC states which consider any influence from Iran in the Mediterranean country a serious issue, a fact made evident by how much Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign harmed the Lebanese economy.

A Lebanon that looks towards the east could therefore complicate its relations with western governments. To be sure, if Lebanon does move closer to China, the country will not only remain a hotspot in the Iranian­–Saudi rivalry, but could also become an arena where the friction between Beijing and western powers plays out in increasingly tense ways.

Over recent years China has deepened its influence in numerous West Asian states, such as the UAE, and even in Israel, by developing their networks and strengthening ties in ways that alarm Washington.

Beijing’s incursion into Lebanon and its image as a possible savior could result in weakening US–Lebanon ties. Washington’s ambassador to Beirut Dorothy Shea has already warned of consequences if Beirut turns to China for investment relief, saying such a move could come “at the expense of the country’s prosperity, stability or fiscal viability or its long-standing relations with the United States.”

Doubtless, China is likely to find ways to benefit from a deeper partnership with Lebanon, especially in light of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This mega-infrastructure project alone has officials in western governments questioning whether Lebanon can remain what the Foreign Policy columnist Anchal Vohra recently described as “an outpost of Western values and influence in [West Asia].”

Russia is also an essential element of the ‘look east’ approach supported by Hezbollah and others in Lebanon. However, the Russians have far less economic influence in Lebanon compared to the Chinese, which remains the country’s largest trading partner, even prior to the economic crisis.

Yet Moscow remains important to Lebanon in matters of diplomacy, energy, and mainly security, given the Kremlin’s ongoing military presence in neighboring Syria.

Mindful of Washington’s crippling sanctions against the Syrian government and certain actors in Lebanon, Russian companies, many of which are also sanctioned by the US, have much experience operating in the so-called ‘gray sphere.’ This means Russian firms might possess unique advantages that Lebanese businesses and individuals would find appealing, particularly in their ability to circumvent sanctions for trade and transactions involving Syria.

Looking ahead, a Lebanon that moves closer to China and Russia could create a new period of uncertainty for Beirut as it finds new footholds in an increasingly multipolar world.

The risks and rewards of such a pivot to the east are likely to remain the source of debate for many in Lebanon who are looking for help from any country willing to assist it during a crisis that has been described as the worst of the modern era.

Ultimately, while Aoun’s latest trip abroad was to Doha, many Lebanese may be holding on to hope that his next one will be either to Beijing or Moscow.The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Sheikh Daamoush: The US Blockade is One of the Reasons Behind Lebanese Suffering

4 Dec 2021

Translated by Al-Ahed News

Deputy Chief of Hezbollah Executive Council Sheikh Ali Daamoush said that, “The Lebanese should know that the US is deceiving them no matter how much it tries to appear keen on Lebanon’s interest, because whoever is keen on it does not besiege it, impose sanctions on it, prevent it from aid, incite the Lebanese against each other, and does not pressure Lebanon regarding the demarcation of the maritime borders to make concessions at the expense of its rights to the “Israeli” enemy, and all this is done by the US in Lebanon”.

During his Friday sermon, Sheikh Daamoush asserted saying, “One of the reasons behind the suffering of the Lebanese is the American blockade imposed on Lebanon and the US policies and measures followed in it; our priority is to break this blockade and mitigate its repercussions on the Lebanese, as well as to serve the people and help them with all possible means to get out of this crisis that is pressuring everyone”.

His Eminence considered “The biggest responsibility lies with the government that must assume full responsibility and address all the reasons that prevent it from meeting. It is not true that the Shiite duo is behind disrupting government sessions, but rather the one behind this delay is also the one who is insisting on politicizing judiciary and keeping it hostage to political interventions and uses as well as the internal and external pressures”.

Sheikh Daamoush said: “These are the reasons that have so far prevented the government from meeting once again. Not getting rid of these reasons will make things more complex, so we should address them, find a way out, and react with the appropriate ways out that help solve the problem”.

مرة أخرى إيران تنجح بوضع الأمور بين خيارين: «الاتفاق أو الاتفاق»

الثلاثاء 30 نوفمبر 2021

ناصر قنديل

ليست العودة إلى مفاوضات فيينا جولة استكشافية، ولا محاولة مفتوحة على احتمالات، فالشهور التي مضت منذ توقف التفاوض كانت هي شهور المفاوضات الفعلية، وساحة الاستكشاف الحقيقية، وميدان اختبار الاحتمالات المتعددة، وقبل سنوات عندما قررت واشنطن استئناف المفاوضات في مثل هذه الأيام من عام 2013 ، بعدما توقفت عام 2012، قلنا إن العودة للمفاوضات هي قرار بالتوصل لاتفاق، لأن ما سبق العودة كان اختبارات كافية للبدائل، وأن الحرب على سورية وتحريك الأساطيل نحوها في آب 2013، كانت سقف هذه الاختبارات، وفي كل مرة كان هناك من يعتقد بأن فرص التوصل للاتفاق تتراجع كنا نقول إن بديل الاتفاق هو الاتفاق، واليوم نعيد أن البدائل التي يتحدث عنها الإسرائيليون هي تلك التي حازوا تفويضاً أميركياً باختبارها ولكن سقفها عمليات التخريب التي لحقت بالمنشآت النووية، والاغتيالات التي استهدفت علماء الملف النووي، وراقب الأميركيون نتائجها فوجدوا ان المشروع النووي الإيراني لا يزال يتقدم، علماً أن الإسرائيلي قبض نقداً وسلفاً ثمن ما قام به، سواء بعمليات التطبيع مع الخليج، أو بأموال عربية مولت هذه العمليات، أما الحرب فقد اختبرها الأميركيون في عهد الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب، سواء يوم أسقطت إيران طائرتهم التجسسية العملاقة فوق الخليج، أو يوم دكت بصواريخها قاعدة عين الأسد، رداً على اغتيال الجنرال قاسم سليماني.

الاختبارات التي يفترض أن تقرر مصير المفاوضات قد جرت، والبدائل التي يمكن أن يلجأون إليها قد تم اللجوء إليها، ولذلك نكرر وبثقة أن بديل الاتفاق هو الاتفاق، وأن شروط إيران للعودة إلى الاتفاق قد تم فرضها في ساحات الاشتباك التي جعلت مسار فيينا بتوقيت طهران خياراً وحيداً أمام الأميركيين، على رغم كثرة كلامهم عن أن الوقت ينفد من أمام خيار التفاوض، وهم يكررون ذلك طوال ستة شهور، ثم يعودون عندما قررت إيران أن العودة صارت مناسبة، فذلك لأن التفاوض يأتي على خلفية بدائل تم اختبارها، أولها كان في لبنان بمحاولة الإنقلاب على حزب الله من بوابة الأزمة الاقتصادية وتفجير الشارع بوجهه، وقد انتهت بنتيجة صفرية، والثانية بمحاولة دعم الحرب على اليمن ودفعها باتجاه الحسم، عبر تشديد الحصار وحملات التجويع، والقصف التدميري الوحشي، ففاجأتهم مأرب بحضورها وتحول الحرب إلى حسم معاكس يقترب، والثالثة بمحاولة تغيير قواعد الاشتباك في فلسطين، ودفع غزة إلى التنازل طلباً للقمة الخبز، فكان سيف القدس، والتدهور في ميزان الردع الإسرائيلي لحساب ميزان ردع معاكس.

بعد الانسحاب من أفغانستان يدرك الأميركيون أنهم خارج سياقات حروب جديدة، وبعد الاتفاق الصيني- الإيراني يدرك الأميركيون أن إيران لم تعد بحاجة حيوية للعودة إلى الاتفاق، بل إن إيران التي قطعت أشواطاً في تطوير برنامجها النووي مستظلة بالانسحاب الأميركي من الاتفاق، فرضت معادلة قوامها أن أميركا خسرت الاتفاق الذي كان يقيد البرنامج النووي الإيراني، ولم تكسب بالمقابل شيئاً في الميادين التي قالت إنها تعترض على عدم تضمينها للاتفاق، وهي البرنامج الصاروخي الإيراني، الذي باتت فروعه منتشرة على ضفاف البحر المتوسط والبحر الأحمر وفوق مياه الخليج، وصولاً لباب المندب، أما الوضع الإقليمي فقد بات حضور قوى المقاومة فيه صاحب اليد العليا في كل ساحات الاشتباك، وكما يقول الروس للأميركيين، لم تعودوا في وضع يهدد إيران بكلفة عدم العودة، بل عليكم أن تقدموا لها حوافز للعودة، ويكفي دليلاً أن إيران ليست راغبة بامتلاك سلاح نووي عودتها للمفاوضات بنية العودة للاتفاق، على رغم بلوغها العتبة النووية.

معادلة فيينا هي العودة للاتفاق أو العودة للاتفاق، وإلا لما تمت العودة إلى فيينا.

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Now that Lebanon Has Gas and Oil, It Is a Must to Protect Them from US Blackmail and “Israeli” Greed

Nov 20, 2021

Now that Lebanon Has Gas and Oil, It Is a Must to Protect Them from US Blackmail and “Israeli” Greed

By Mohammad Yossef

Beirut – Although our country is suffering from an unprecedented crisis on many levels; Lebanon has a huge potential to rid itself from its multifaceted dilemma.

Gas and petroleum are two precious commodities that not only could treat our dire situation and preserve it from collapse, but rather open new horizons and chances to put it on the track of stability and prosperity.

Studies conducted in Lebanese economic zone suggests the presence of immense quantities of oil and gas. Estimates indicate the presence of at least 100 trillion cubic feet of gas and 900 million barrels of oil. Lebanon has not started any exploration activities so far, because of the American pressure.

However, this Lebanese fortune that is abundantly present in our sea, adjacent to occupied Palestine has its obstacles and hurdles that stem from our enemy, “Israel” and its greedy appetite to steal our natural resources of every kind.

Washington has used every method possible to make Lebanon bow down to its pressure and surrender to its proposals; the US blackmail and dictations want simply to give the larger proportion of gas and oil present in the disputed maritime area to the “Israeli” entity. 

Lebanon is locked in a dispute with the apartheid entity over an area in the Mediterranean Sea spanning about 860 square kilometers [some 332 square miles], known as Zone No. 9, which is very rich with oil and gas, as already mentioned.

The American administration wants to ignore all the laws and regulations that govern disputed maritime issues and subjugate Lebanon to its view.

Not only that, Washington is preventing Lebanon from digging or exploring the areas to make accurate estimations about the quantities it has. No international company dares to break American embargo over this because it would be on US sanctions list.

“Israeli” enemy government has signed a contract with US giant company Halliburton to carry explorations and drilling in the disputed maritime area.

For its part, Lebanon’s position so far is firm and consistent, Lebanese President General Michel Aoun demanded the “Israeli” entity to halt exploration in the disputed offshore gas field on its southern border.

“Lebanon is within its rights to evolve its position according to its interest and as suitable under international law,” Aoun said.

He also “demanded international experts… draw the line according to international law,”

Hezbollah also warned the “Israeli” enemy from any attempt to steal Lebanon oil or gas and expressed readiness to deal with any violation properly.

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah stated in many occasions that the Resistance would not tolerate any “Israeli” drilling from the disputed maritime area before an agreement is concluded with the Lebanese government.

The discovery of gas and oil would change the whole situation in Lebanon and advance it forward to a better position, it would certainly help Lebanon achieve higher energy security and help improving the industrial, transportation and electricity sectors.

If properly exploited, the oil and gas discovery will have a very positive impact on the Lebanese public finances and on the horribly deteriorating economy as a whole. This will benefit not only public sectors like electricity and transportation and increase public revenues but will also help in reducing the cost of all local industrial goods and services and help the country to come out of its worst crisis ever.


US Calls on the Gulf States to Restore Relations with Lebanon

Nov 5, 2021

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen net

The United States of America calls on the Gulf states to restore relations with Lebanon. The spokesperson for the US State Department, Ned Price, says that an effective dialogue must be initiated with Beirut.

US' Ned Price urges Lebanon government to stop Hezbollah's rocket fire at  Israel
The spokesperson for the US State Department Ned Price

The US called on the Gulf states to revive relations with Lebanon, saying that the struggling nation needed international support. The comments came in the wake of the crisis that Gulf countries maintained that were sparked by old remarks of the Lebanese Information Minister’s George Kordahi.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, “Our position is that diplomatic channels should remain open if we are to seek to improve the humanitarian conditions of the Lebanese people.” 

Blinken: the US will aid Mikati’s efforts to restore political stability

Yesterday, on the sidelines of the UN climate meeting in Glasgow, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

Blinken stated that the US would assist Lebanon in its efforts to recover from a historic economic catastrophe, as well as aiding Mikati’s efforts to restore political stability after a more than one-year power vacuum.

Yesterday as well, France called on the regional parties and officials in Lebanon to calm and initiate a dialogue, stressing the need to distance Beirut from crises in the region. 

The Begining of the Crisis

The crisis began last week when Saudi Arabia summoned its ambassador in Lebanon for consultations Friday, while it requested the ambassador of Lebanon to leave the kingdom within 48 hours and decided to stop all Lebanese imports to the kingdom.

حكومة المملكة تستدعي السفير في لبنان للتشاور، ومغادرة سفير لبنان لدى المملكة خلال الـ (48) ساعة القادمة، وتقرر وقف كافة الواردات اللبنانية إلى المملكة.واس_عام— واس العام (@SPAregions) October 29, 2021

Following in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait asked the Lebanese ambassador to leave their territories within 48 hours. In turn, the UAE recalled its diplomats from Lebanon and issued a travel ban for its citizens to the Country.

What did Kordahi state?

Lebanese Minister of Information George Kordahi described the Yemen war as “futile,” adding that “Ansar Allah group has been defending itself in the face of external aggression against Yemen for years,” which provoked international and local reactions.

Yesterday, sources close to the Lebanese Minister of Information, George Qardahi, told Al-Mayadeen that Kordahi will not resign, and this position has not changed.


الثقب الأسود في ذاكرة الحاسوب السعودي

نوفمبر 2 2021

 ناصر قنديل

حسناً فعل وزير الخارجية السعودي فيصل بن فرحان بالكشف عن الأسباب الحقيقية للخطوة السعودية التصعيدية ضد لبنان، لنقل النقاش من المكان السخيف الذي وضعه البعض فيه في الأيام الأولى إلى السياسة، أي حيث هو فعلاً، وحيث يجب أن يكون، فالقضية ليست قضية تصريح وزير الإعلام، بل قضية موقف الدولة ومؤسساتها من حزب الله، باعتبار أنه وفقاً للوزير السعودي، يكفي أن لا تقوم الدولة بإعلان الحرب على حزب الله ليستنتج بأن حزب الله يهيمن على الدولة، ومفهوم ألا يستطيع الوزير أن يتخيل للبنان مصلحة بحجم استرضاء السعودية، وصندوق مالها، وهو في أزمة خطيرة، وعلى شفا انهيار شامل، والثمن لفتح صندوق المال أمامه هو مواجهة حزب الله، فماذا تنتظرون إن لم يكن حزب الله مهميناً عليكم، هكذا ببساطة هي النظرية السعودية، وهي بجوهرها تقول إنه ما دامت الدولة اللبنانية تتلكأ في القيام بالمهمة فقد قررت السعودية معاقبة لبنان وصولاً لإسقاطه، حتى يرضخ ويلبي الطلب.

ليس موضوعنا مناقشة تهافت نظرية هيمنة حزب الله على دولة، صاحب القرار المالي فيها حاكم المصرف المركزي صديق الرياض وواشنطن وصاحب القرار الأمني فيها مدير عام قوى الأمن الداخلي وفرع المعلومات، وصاحب القرار العسكري فيها قائد الجيش، وكلهم أصدقاء للرياض وواشنطن، وحزب الله يخوض مواجهة مع مسار قضائي ويعجز قضائياً وحكومياً، حيث يفترض أنه الحاكم، ووفقاً لوصف رئيس حزب القوات اللبنانية، أن حزب الله وصل إلى طريق مسدود قضائياً وحكومياً، ونعم الهيمنة إذا كانت كذلك، لكن بعيداً من هذا التهافت، السؤال هو هل أن المواجهة مع حزب الله هي أمر جديد يحدث الآن من دون تاريخ ومن دون ذاكرة، حتى ندخل في تحليل الفرضيات ونتساءل عن المسارات؟

في اجتماع وزراء المالية لدول قمة العشرين، في كانون الثاني 2020 وقف وزير المالية الفرنسية برونو لومير كاشفاً أن ما يتعرض له لبنان هو خطر انهيار مالي اقتصادي، داعياً إلى عدم استسهال دفع لبنان نحو السقوط لأن النتائج ستكون أشد قسوة من مساعدة لبنان على التعافي، مطالباً واشنطن والرياض بفك الارتباط بين مساعي مساعدة لبنان على التعافي، ومعاركهما مع طهران وحزب الله، وأسقط بيد فرنسا يومها وانضمت صاغرة إلى الصف الأميركي السعودي في الدفاع عن سياسة الإسقاط، تحت شعار، فليسقط لبنان على رأس حزب الله، وعندما وقع انفجار مرفأ بيروت أعادت فرنسا الكرة بمبادرة الرئيس إيمانويل ماكرون، لإقناع شريكيها السعودي والأميركي بنظرية فك الاشتباك وفشلت على مدار سنة ونيف، حتى اختبر الأميركي منهج التصعيد ومحاذيره ومخاطره، عندما أطلق حزب الله مسار سفن كسر الحصار، واستدار الأميركي تفادياً للتصعيد، وقرر الإفراج عن فرص لبنان بتشكيل الحكومة، وقرر الانتقال إلى منافسة حزب الله في تخفيف حدة الأزمة، فاستثنى استجرار الغاز المصري والكهرباء الأردنية عبر سورية من عقوبات قانون قيصر، وبقيت السعودية وحدها ترفض فك الاشتباك، تواكب النصف الثاني من السياسة الأميركية القائم على محاصرة حزب الله تحت سقف عدم الدفع بالأمور نحو الانفجار، كحال المسار القضائي للقاضي بيطار، والاشتغال لتحضير صيغ مناسبة للتأثير في مسار الانتخابات المقبلة، لكنها تستثمر على ما تعتقد أنه تعبير عن خيار المواجهة المفتوحة، وهذا هو مكان الرهان على حزب القوات اللبنانية، الذي فشل في تقديم ما كان يتوقعه منه السعوديون قبل أن يقرروا الدخول مباشرة على الخط، والسؤال هنا، أي ثقب أسود في ذاكرة الحاسوب السعودي لتراهن على أن تحقق منفردة ما عجزت عن تحقيقه وهي شريك في حلف تقوده واشنطن ويضم باريس معهما، وكيف ستتمكن من المضي بمواجهتها من دون أن تصطدم بالسقوف الأميركية الفرنسية للحفاظ على الحكومة وعلى الاستقرار من خلالها، بعدما كانت طليقة اليدين في الماضي ومعها كل زخم الشراكات الكبرى وفشلت؟

بعد عام 2006 وحرب تموز، التي لم تخف السعودية تغطيتها بشعار، مغامرون سيدفعون ثمن مغامرتهم، في توصيفها لحزب الله، لم تسلم السعودية بأن خسارة الحرب نهاية المطاف، فدفعت بالتناقضات اللبنانية التي كانت تتحكم بإدارتها عبر سيطرتها على حكومة الرئيس فؤاد السنيورة، نحو خطوات متسارعة للمواجهة، بدأت بتفجير الحكومة، مع إحراج وزراء ثنائي حركة أمل وحزب الله لإخراجهم، ثم استصدار قرارات عن الحكومة تترجم ما تريده السعودية من حكومة الرئيس نجيب ميقاتي اليوم، وهي تنسى أن هذا حصل سابقاً، واستجابت حكومة السنيورة التي قررت تفكيك شبكة الاتصالات العائدة للمقاومة في 5 أيار 2008، واتصل الملك السعودي بالحكومة متحدثاً مع أعضائها فرداً فرداً شاحذاً هممهم للمواجهة مؤكداً دعم السعودية لهم، وكانت أميركا والغرب كله مع الموقف السعودي، ويومها كانت العلاقات السعودية -السورية مقطوعة بالمناسبة، على خلفية الغضب السعودي من معادلة الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد في توصيف مواقف الحكام العرب من الحرب بأشباه الرجال، ولم تكن هناك حرب تغرق فيها السعودية كحرب اليمن اليوم، وتورطت أحزاب بتمويل سعودي لتنظيم مواجهة مسلحة مع حزب الله، فماذا كانت النتيجة، الفشل ثم الفشل، والانتقال لأول مرة إلى الدوحة بدلاً من الطائف أو الرياض لتحقيق المصالحة، واضطرار السعودية بعدها لمصالحة سورية، وإرسال الرئيس سعد الحريري إليها، ليعتذر عن اتهامها بقتل والده، فأي ثقب أسود في ذاكرة الحاسوب السعودي لتراهن أن دعوتها اليوم ستلقى أذناً تسمعها، ولسان حال الحكومة من جرب المجرب كان عقله مخرب، وقد تمت التجربة في ظروف أفضل بكثير وانتهت بالفشل الذريع، فكيف لعاقل أن يتوقع لها النجاح في ظروف زادت سوءاً وتعقيداً؟

الثقوب السوداء كثيرة، لكن ثمة ثقوباً بدأت تصيب الحملة السعودية، فسقف أميركي لحماية الاستقرار من جنون قد يتسبب بنتائج كارثية، كانت إشاراتها الأولى كافية لاستدارة الأميركي إلى منتصف الطريق، والأميركي يقول اليوم إنه لن يتدخل بالخلاف واضعاً الحكومتين اللبنانية والسعودية على مسافة واحدة، مؤكداً تمسكه بالاستقرار وبالحكومة اللبنانية بخطوط حمراء أمام المغامرة السعودية، فتبدأ وساطة قطرية، وأخرى فرنسية، وقد تورط السعوديون في مغامرة رسمها لهم بوم شؤم، والمثل يقول الحق البوم يدلك على الخراب!

Sayyed Safieddine: Lebanese Crisis Rooted In MBS’ Fear of Yemen’s Marib Liberation

Nov 1, 2021

Sayyed Safieddine: Lebanese Crisis Rooted In MBS’ Fear of Yemen’s Marib Liberation

By Staff, Agencies

The Head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, His Eminence Sayyed Hashem Safieddine said the diplomatic crisis between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia is rooted in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS]’s “fear” of the liberation of the Yemeni strategic city of Marib as Beirut supports Yemenis fighting the Saudi war.

Sayyed Safieddine noted in a statement that it is not “reasonable” to think that the diplomatic crisis is related to remarks made by the Lebanese information minister “it is rather greater than that.”

“What is happening in Saudi Arabia is a major thing, as the Saudis and the Gulf [countries] in general, who have followed the path of forming relations with ‘Israel’, cannot bear a voice from Lebanon and others who will criticize them in the future over the Saudi-‘Israeli’ relations, which will be made public in the coming days,” he added.

The senior Hezbollah official further underlined that the Saudi Crown Prince lives in a state of “dilemma and anxiety” and will have to face an excessive situation after the fall of Marib, emphasizing that MBS is fearful of losing all his illusions.

Sayyed Safieddine warned that all those who work to interrupt the Lebanese government, undermine the country’s stability, and mount US and Saudi sanctions to destroy Lebanon, highlighting Hezbollah’s sacrifices “in order not to lead our country to internal clashes, and for this, we [have striven to] resolve the economic and internal problems of the Lebanese people.”

His Eminence emphasized that those who are pushing to fabricate security, diplomatic and political crises in Lebanon are the ones that are working to sabotage the country.

He said that the future of Lebanon is not in the hands of the Saudis “but in the hands of God and thanks to those who sacrificed for the dignity of the country.”

Saudi Arabia will not tolerate any criticism in the future, especially after its relations with the ‘Israeli’ regime will be public in the coming days, the Hezbollah official added.

The Saudi-Lebanon row began after current Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi said during a television program that was recorded before Kordahi became minister, but was aired last Monday, that the 2015-present Saudi Arabia-led war on Yemen was an act of aggression by Riyadh and the United Arab Emirates [UAE], the kingdom’s most significant ally in the military campaign.

Kordahi called the war “absurd,” saying it had to stop because he was opposed to wars between Arabs. The minister also said the Yemeni army forces and their allied fighters from the Popular Committees were “defending themselves … against an external aggression.”

The Saudi kingdom subsequently recalled its ambassador from Beirut and expelled the Lebanese envoy from the Saudi capital.

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بين لبنان ومأرب حبل السرة

ناصر قنديل

في ظل موقف أميركي هذا إطاره تحضر السياسة السعودية التي تقوم على استثمار غياب سياسة أميركية واضحة، التي ترتكز على ثلاثة عناصر، الأول هو رفض أي تساهل مع أي مسعى لمساعدة لبنان على الوقوف على قدميه، كما تقول الوقائع التي تبلغتها الحكومة اللبنانية من دول خليجية كانت راغبة بالانضمام إلى خطوات شبيهة بخطوات العراق في مجال عقود الفيول والنفط، أو خطوات الأردن ومصر المسقوفة بقرار أميركي، والعنصر الثاني هو حصر الدعم السياسي والمالي بالقوى التي تبدي الاستعداد لخوض المواجهة المفتوحة مع حزب الله وعلى رأسها حزب القوات اللبنانية، والعنصر الثالث هو اعتبار لبنان صندوق بريد قابلاً للتوظيف في المعركة الرئيسية التي تدور تحت سقفها كل السياسات السعودية الراهنة، وهي حرب اليمن، وجوهر الرسائل التي تهتم لها السعودية هي تلك الموجهة لحزب الله، لرسم معادلة تربط كل تأزم في الوضع السعودي في اليمن، بصناعة تأزم مواز في لبنان، اعتقاداً منها بأن هذا سيزعج الحزب ويربك حركته، وربما يفتح الباب لمقايضات ترغبها الرياض، عنوانها تخفيف ضغط هنا مقابل تخفيف ضغط هناك، لم تفلح بعد ولا مرة بتحقيق أي اختراق.

السياسة الأميركية تجاه لبنان تقوم منذ معادلة سفن كسر الحصار على إقامة توازن بين خط أول يقوم على رعاية المناخ المعادي للمقاومة، سواء على الصعيد القضائي في مسار التشهير بحلفائها وملاحقتهم لإرباك حركتها السياسية عشية الانتخابات، وربما للحؤول دون مسار قضائي سليم في قضية انفجار مرفأ بيروت، ينتهي بكشف حقائق لا يرغب الأميركي بظهورها، والاستعداد لتجميع القوى التي تلوذ بالرعاية الأميركية تمهيداً لتجميعها وتحفيزها نحو المسار الانتخابي، من جهة، وتأتي في هذا السياق كل خطوات العقوبات الجديدة، ومن جهة ثانية، الدخول في سباق إثبات الاهتمام بمنع لبنان من السقوط مع المقاومة التي أظهرت قدرتها عبر سفن كسر الحصار على المبادرة، وتأتي في هذا السياق الخطوات التي تخص نقل الغاز المصري والكهرباء الأردنية عبر سورية، والتي قطعت شوطاً مهماً خلال الأيام القليلة الماضية، وفي كل هذا لا تبدو واشنطن مستعدة لما هو أكثر، فهي ليست طرفاً في رعاية مسار خروج لبنان من الأزمات، ولا تزال تتعامل مع الملف اللبناني بالقطعة، كما تفعل في ملف ترسيم الحدود البحرية، بانتظار أن تتبلور لديها صورة واضحة لسياساتها في المنطقة، والتي لا يزال ملف علاقتها بإيران من بوابة مصير التفاهم النووي مفتاحها الرئيسي.

الأزمة التصاعدية التي برزت مع الكلام الصادر عن الوزير جورج قرداحي قبل تعيينه وزيراً، حول حرب اليمن، بقي مادة سعودية حاضرة بقوة بوجه لبنان وحكومته، على رغم توضيحات قرداحي، ومواقف رئيس الحكومة ووزير الخارجية، ووصل الأمر إلى تبلغ مسؤولين لبنانيين كبار عبر دول خليجية أن السعودية ستذهب للمزيد من التصعيد ما لم يستقل الوزير قرداحي أو تتم إقالته، وهذا الإفراط في استثمار قضية صغيرة الحجم، لا يمكن فهمه بذاته، بل بحجم التحولات الكبرى التي تشهدها معارك مأرب، والتي تضغط على الموقف السعودي بقسوة وبسرعة، فمأرب قلب اليمن ونقطة وصل الشمال بالجنوب، قاب قوسين من السقوط بيد أنصار الله، بعدما نجح الأنصار بتحرير العديد من مديرياتها، ويفاوض زعماء القبائل في المدينة على تسليمها بتفاهم سياسي، بما يدفع الذين يراقبون مشهد المنطقة من بعيد يربطون تفاصيلها ببعضها بحبل سرة، يتوقعون على أساسه مزيداً من الغموض والفوضى في آفاق التطورات في الساحات الساخنة، بانتظار أن تحسم نتيجة المفاوضات التي يفترض أن تبدأ نهاية تشرين الثاني المقبل، في فيينا حول الملف النووي الإيراني، لتستعيد واشنطن المبادرة وترسم سياستها الإقليمية التي سيكون لبنان في قلبها.

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Sayyed Nasrallah Urges Duly Parliamentary Elections, Promises More Diesel Will be Brought for Winter Season

October 12, 2021

By Al-Ahed News

Sayyed Nasrallah Urges Duly Parliamentary Elections, Promises More Diesel Will be Brought for Winter Season

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah tackled in a Monday evening speech the latest developments in Lebanon and the region.

Elections On Time

At the beginning of his speech, Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized on the need to hold the Lebanese parliamentary elections in their due time, ruling out any possibility that any side in Lebanon wants to delay this occurrence.

Regarding the issue of running for elections and voting from abroad, Sayyed Nasrallah confirmed that there are no equal opportunities to run for elections or vote abroad, especially when it comes to Hezbollah.

“It has long been unfair for Hezbollah and we were not allowed in the countries of migration to campaign for elections or vote freely; but when it is a national interest in which the Lebanese people feel that they are taking their part, then we support the idea of their voting from outside the country.”

As for reducing the age of voting to 18, Sayyed Nasrallah considered this effort as weird in the time being, especially that “Hezbollah has [previously] worked seriously to amend the Constitution and reduce the age of voting to 18,” His Eminence explained, noting that “most of the parliamentary blocs have been rejecting this, except for Hezbollah and Amal Movement, in addition to some MPs.”

Lebanon’s Blackout: US vetoes salvation

Despite slamming those behind driving Lebanon to a total blackout, which he referred to as a phase of ‘clinical death’, Sayyed Nasrallah thanked the Lebanese Army Command for its temporary solution to provide the electric current.

His Eminence however underscored that “the government should have held a session that mustn’t have ended without finding a solution to the problem of electricity,” adding that “Instead of shouldering their responsibilities, the Lebanese officials started trading blames and insults.”

While asking the Lebanese government for a radical solution to the electricity problem, Sayyed Nasrallah reiterated time and against that “There are various offers from the East and the West to solve the electricity problem in Lebanon, and this issue must be decided.”

The Resistance leader further dared the Lebanese officials to declare if there is an American veto against solving the problem of electricity, by which knowing such a fact would help Hezbollah build upon it in its work.

“There should be a response to the offer voiced by Iran’s Foreign Minister to solve Lebanon’s electricity problem,” Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted, focusing on the demand that the issue of electricity be on top of the cabinet’s agenda.

His Eminence further warned of a possible aim behind the collapse of the electric sector, which is to justify the choice of privatization.

Sayyed Nasrallah lashed out at the sides that are still objecting to bringing diesel oil to Lebanon, asserting that regarding the issue of diesel oil, Hezbollah is still in the first phase which will last until the end of October, and has added fishermen to the beneficiaries who will have access to diesel oil.

Meanwhile, His Eminence set a timeframe for the second phase of bringing diesel oil in, which he said will start in November under the title of providing heat to the families.

“Providing heat is a big title that requires regulations and a different mechanism of distribution that we will talk about before the start of November.”

Beirut Port Blast Investigations

Hezbollah Secretary General lashed out at the current judge in Beirut Port blast issue whom he accused of abusing the blood of martyrs for political goals.

“The investigative judge in the Beirut Port blast is continuing to make his predecessor’s mistakes, and even went to worse [deeds],” Sayyed Nasrallah said, stressing that “Truth and justice must be served in this issue.”

“It is better for the investigative judge to reveal the identity of those who brought the ship carrying the nitrates to Beirut Port,” His Eminence added, underscoring that the responsibility of the judges is greater than that of the presidents, the ministers, and the MPs as they are the ones who issued the approvals for the ship to enter and remain at the port.

“While the judiciary wants to protect itself, it wants to imprison a respected Prime Minister like Mr. Hassan Diab. Is this a state of law and judiciary?” Sayyed Nasrallah wondered.

“The Beirut Port blast investigations are very wrong and won’t lead to any truth,” His Eminence stressed.

Kunduz Mosque Attack

Sayyed Nasrallah mourned the victims of Kunduz Mosque blast in Afghanistan, which has left scores martyred and injured among worshippers performing Friday prayers in one of the city’s Shia mosques. His Eminence condemned the Wahhabi terrorist Daesh [Arabic for ISIS/ISIL] organization, which has already claimed responsibility for the bloody attack.

Accusing the United States of transferring Daesh members from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan, Sayyed Nasrallah pointed the blame at the United States and its policies, holding it responsible for all the blood that has been shed in Afghanistan until our day.

“The Americans prepared before their withdrawal from Afghanistan for a civil war, and it is Daesh’s mission to push the country to this war,” the Hezbollah leader emphasized, holding the current authorities in Afghanistan responsible for protecting the Afghan people regardless of their religious and sectarian affiliations.

Nizar Banat the Outspoken Martyr

Although so much time has passed since the incident, Sayyed Nasrallah admitted that it is an ethical duty to mention the brave and intellectual Palestinian martyr Nizar Banat who was assassinated by the Palestinian Authority.

Sayyed Nasrallah appreciated martyr’s Banat’s outspokenness in conveying the ideas of resistance despite his presence in the occupied West Bank.

Stating that he didn’t mention anything before getting to learn all the facts about the person and his assassination, Sayyed Nasrallah condoled with his family, friends and lovers, shared their sorrow, and asked the Palestinian Authority for serving justice in this issue.

A Final Word to the Dear Yemenis

Sayyed Nasrallah concluded his speech by greeting the the dear and oppressed Yemeni people’s commemoration of Prophet Mohammad [PBUH] birth anniversary despite all of the harsh circumstances they have been passing through

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ترحيب سيادي بالوزير عبد اللهيان

أكتوبر/ 7 تشرين الأول 2021

في علم القانون والعلاقات الدولية ليست مفردة السيادة تعبيراً انتقائياً يمكن إطلاقه وفقاً للأهواء والمشاعر، والتدقيق بمعايير انتهاك السيادة لا يحتاج الكثير من البحث، فمعاهدة جنيف التي وصفت الاحتلال ربطته بممارسة السيطرة وفرض إرادة أجنبية وتشريعات غير صادرة عن مؤسسات الدولة المعنية، بل هي تشريعات الدولة المهيمنة التي تقع عليها صفات انتهاك السيادة، هي ذاتها التي قالت إنّ تلكؤ الدولة التي تتعرض لانتهاك السيادة أو عجزها أو تغاضيها عن هذا الانتهاك توجب على الشعب ولا تمنحه الحق فقط، مقاومة هذا الانتهاك، ويقع فعل المقاومة هنا في مرتبة الدفاع عن السيادة بما في ذلك حمل السلاح بصورة غير مقوننة، لأن شرعية المقاومة تنبثق من شرعة أعلى من القوانين في ظل إرادة الدولة المشلولة بحكم العدوان الواقع على سلطتها السيادية.

عرف لبنان من أربعة عقود اجتياحاً إسرائيلياً بلغ عاصمته وفرض على اللبنانيين اتفاقاً للإذعان عرف باتفاق 17 أيار، وخرجت المقاومة الوطنية والإسلامية لمواجهة هذا العدوان على السيادة بعدما تلكأت الدولة وعجزت وتغاضت، فكانت المقاومة هي الفعل السيادي، وسلاحها هو الحامي لمفهوم السيادة، وعندما وقفت الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران إلى جانب المقاومة وأمدتها بما احتاجت من أسباب للقوة، كانت إيران تقف على ضفة الدفاع عن السيادة اللبنانية المنتهكة، وكان الذين رضخوا لمشيئة الاحتلال أو راهنوا عليه واستفادوا منه واستثمروا على تداعياته مجرد خونة وعملاء باعوا وطنيتهم وسيادتهم، وعندما وقفوا ينددون بالمقاومة كانوا يفعلون ذلك من موقع خدمة الاحتلال والتفريط بالسيادة.

مع بدء نظام العقوبات الأميركية باستهداف العديد من دول العالم بما فيها دول صديقة وحليفة لواشنطن، كانت تشريعات العقوبات انتهاكاً موصوفاً لسيادة هذه الدولة، وشكلاً من أشكال الاحتلال، طالما أنها تفرض على هذه الدولة تطبيق تشريعات غير صادرة عن مؤسساتها السيادية، وكان لبنان من بين هذه الدول، سواء بما يخص شموله بالعقوبات على إيران أو سورية، وهي عقوبات صادرة عن السلطات الأميركية وليس عن مؤسسات لبنانية، وتلكؤ أو عجز أو تغاضي الدولة اللبنانية عن مهمة مقاومة هذه التشريعات المنتهكة للسيادة يفرض على الشعب مقاومتها، وكل مقاومة من خارج الدولة تمتلك مشروعية أعلى من مشروعية خضوع الدولة أو تلكؤها أو تغاضيها.

قيام المقاومة في لبنان بكسر الحصار المفروض على لبنان عبر سفن النفط الإيراني فعل سيادي يسقط مفعول قرارات تنتهك السيادة صادرة عن مؤسسات غير لبنانية، ولا تتمتع بصفة القانون الدولي كحال القرارات التي تصدر عن مجلس الأمن الدولي، وكل مندد بقيام المقاومة بمبادرتها السيادية يقع في دائرة الشبهة لمساندة الاحتلال غير المباشر الذي يفرض تشريعات تنتهك السيادة ويندد بمقاومتها المشروعة خدمة للمحتل العابر للحدود بتشريعاته.

لأن إيران في كل مرة تعرض فيها لبنان لانتهاك لسيادته وقفت إلى جانب مقاومته النابعة من روح سيادية شرعية أعلى مرتبة من أي معايير أخرى، ولأن إيران لم تطلب يوماً ولم تحصل يوماً على مقابل لهذه المساندة المتعددة الأشكال، فإن كل سيادي لبناني غير مزور، معني بالترحيب بزيارة وزير خارجية إيران إلى لبنان.

أهلاً وسهلاً معالي الوزير حسين أمير عبد اللهيان صديقاً للبنان واللبنانيين.

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Hezbollah MP: The Blatant American Interference in the Lebanese Affairs Has Reached Its Maximum

October 4, 2021

Hezbollah MP: The Blatant American Interference in the Lebanese Affairs Has Reached Its Maximum

By Staff

Member of Hezbollah’s “Loyalty to the Resistance” Parliamentary Bloc Sayyed Ibrahim Al-Moussawi asserted that “The American administration is practicing a policy of dictation, where the blatant American interference in the Lebanese affairs has reached its maximum, as it is permeating all the levels, amid the silence of some parties about the American violations.” 

MP al-Moussawi condemned the “The US blatant breach to decimate Lebanon” in a radio interview, inviting the Lebanese foreign minister to take a stance that condemns this interference.

He also stressed that the bet in this context is on those who have wisdom and reckon the nature of the United States.

Regarding the cabinet affairs, Sayyed al-Moussawi said that “the cabinet should fully take its chances,” adding in the context of the ministerial committee that aims at negotiating with the International Monetary Fund: “Let’s give the cabinet a chance as long as we are part of it and we support it.”

Regarding the “Biqaa Nitrate”, MP al-Moussawi underscored that “there is a big conspiracy that is being gradually revealed,” stressing that “it’s the right of the victims’ families to learn the truth of the Beirut Port blast.”

On the other hand, Sayyed al-Moussawi stressed that “Hezbollah is going for the initiative of distributing the Iranian diesel oil”, considering that “the unity of the Lebanese people is being renewed today in this regard.” He added that “we are working on alleviating the suffering of people as much as possible, and we stress that we aren’t an alternative to the government.”

“Hezbollah is currently studying a plan regarding offering a special help regarding transportation to schools, notably official schools, through providing as much as possible diesel oil supply,” he added.

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Sayyed Safieddine: Iran Fuel Imports Not Hezbollah’s Last Step

October 4, 2021

Sayyed Safieddine: Iran Fuel Imports Not Hezbollah’s Last Step

By Staff, Agencies

The Head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, His Eminence Sayyed Hashem Safieddine, underscored that Iran’s fuel shipments to Lebanon dealt a heavy blow to sanctions imposed by the US and its allies on the Arab country, but the resistance movement will double down with other measures.

“Fuel imports from Iran will not be the last step, as we have many other measures to take,” Sayyed Safieddine said at a ceremony in the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil on Sunday night.

He said Lebanon is currently facing numerous crises and challenges, because it is now an integral part of the regional equations, but it needs to emerge victorious and dignified out of them and to move towards a new phase.

“We know that some Lebanese citizens are afraid of the word ‘challenge’. Nevertheless, Hezbollah will stand committed to the protection of our country, our nation, and our future,” Sayyed Safieddine said.

“There is no way to strengthen Lebanon other than performing a leading role in regional equations. Any other initiative is worthless, and falls within the framework of capitulation and surrender to ‘Israel’s’ interests,” he added.

Sayyed Safieddine said not only did the arrival of Iranian fuel shipments into Lebanon help solve the country’s dire shortages, but it also showed the Zionist entity’s inability in maritime terms to stop Lebanon-bound oil tankers sent by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The ‘Israeli’ enemy, he said, is not seeking a naval confrontation with Hezbollah, which would expose the weakness of its regime.

“They know very well that our missiles can strike the farthest point deep inside the occupied territories. ‘Israel’ is also aware of the fact that we can prevent any ship from docking in the port cities of Acre, Haifa and Tel Aviv or any other region in the occupied lands.”

Tanker Trackers said on Friday that the third ship carrying Iranian gasoil or gasoline for distribution in Lebanon had entered the Gulf of Suez from the Red Sea. It identified the vessel as Fortune.

Last month, the first tanker trucks carrying Iranian fuel arranged by Hezbollah arrived in Lebanon, with the resistance group declaring that it had broken the “American siege.”

Lebanon has been mired in a deep economic and financial crisis since late 2019. The crisis is the gravest threat to the country’s stability since the 15-year civil war ended in 1990.

The economic and financial crisis is mostly linked to the sanctions that the United States and its allies have imposed on Lebanon as well as foreign intervention in the Arab nation’s domestic affairs.

Last month, Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said the Iranian fuel shipments would be distributed free of charge to institutions, including state hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages and the Red Cross.

“[Hezbollah] is not looking to make a business out of this but wants to help ease the people’s hardships,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, adding that the rest of the Iranian fuel would be sold “below cost” to bakeries, private hospitals or companies that run private generators.

Nasrallah’s Timing

September 18, 2021

Nasrallah’s Timing

By Ahmed Fouad

In the past, present, and future, timing is everything in both life and politics. When an actor is good at choosing the appropriate timing for his decision, success is all but guaranteed. This applies to the vast ocean of politics, and relates to every human act, even the most ordinary ones.

There is greatness in choosing the right timing to revolt against a far-reaching siege – a choice made and implemented by the master of the resistance and the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

It broke the cycle of the siege on Lebanon and Syria forever and threw all the plans of the United States and the Zionist entity to isolate the two countries in the dustbin of history. It was a divine timing; it came during one of the manifestations of the meeting between heaven and earth – Ashura, the memory of ideals and unique heroism throughout history.

Sayyed crowned the most pivotal event during the last decade with his resounding historical speech about the arrival of fuel tankers from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Lebanon via sister Syria. The arrival comes on a memory that also carries many noble meanings – the martyrdom anniversary of Sayyed Hadi. This sends a dual message to friends, close ones, and the enemies.

The first, and loudest, truth about the convoys breaking the siege on Lebanon is that they are coming from those who led the liberation of the land. They are repeating that, but this time, by liberating the ordinary citizen from neediness and crises and giving every Arab a sign for the only way to a solution. Hezbollah did not resort to the IMF, nor did it borrow from the West. Rather, it brought production and mobilization tools from the East. This is one.

As for the other, it was achieved by the long-term sacrifices of the Islamic Republic, Syria, and Hezbollah together, in a region already in crisis. Finally, you find an example of achievement and success, completely outside the American sphere, which opens the door to a further shattering of dependency on the US and loosening the American collar around the necks of everyone in the Arab region.

 The American equation that was presented to the rulers of Arab countries has existed since the mid-1970s. It is as follows: Sign a peace agreement with the Zionist entity, and American investments would guarantee you prosperity and growth; unlimited American support would provide you with all the leadership roles you desire.

This was the first thing that was said to Sadat, for example, about the milk and honey that were waiting for him as soon as he signs the Camp David Accords. When the game ended, Sadat took a piece of paper in exchange for giving away his entire country to the Americans and Zionists. Right before he was killed by the hero Khalid Al-Islambouli, he realized that he fell for the trick in a barren desert and all that he wished for was a mirage.

Only now, the solution came from outside in a fully cooperative manner that enhances the value of the local currencies of the three countries and deprives the American giant of its absolute ability to act, punish, and move; thus, breaking the prestige of the Zionist entity and the American power to the same degree.

In the end, the Iranian solution presented something greater than the spectacle of diesel and gasoline convoys and better than just meeting the needs of a country that was already suffocating. The Iranians did so by using a method chosen by Hezbollah in its jihad work since its glorious first day on the Arab land.

With all faith, Sayyed restored Ashura to our daily reality. It became an approach not an epitaph, a renewed victory over the enemy, blood that never goes to waste, and a firm commitment to the slogan “Zainab will not be taken captive twice.” Let everyone see the transfer of the party’s slogans from the arena of jihad against the enemy to the jihad of building, serving, and cutting the continuous and long chain of suffering against the citizens of Lebanon.

Perhaps one of the most important points in Sayyed’s remarks about the muted media coverage regarding the arrival of Iranian ships to Syria is to set a new rule that achieving the greatest possible success is linked to doing the least amount of talking possible.

The multiple speeches only reveal locations and goals. Therefore, a lot of words narrow the possibility of movement, freedom of action, and most importantly, the flexibility required in a troubled area, which is as effervescent as the hopes of the actors or those who are greedy.

Sayyed’s speech, which is actually historic and not descriptive, was not a dedication to celebration or joy in the achievement of an unparalleled glory for the entire Arab nation. Rather, it was a new promise to continue the opposite approach to the submissive Arab march during recent decades and to turn the page on the old, dull, and impotent policies. Sayyed painted his speech with a victorious, confident smile after succeeding in presenting a new integrated solution away from the poor imagination that drives all our miserable rulers.

Sen. Murphy: Hezbollah Fuel Narrative Effective & Persuasive, US Should Address It Immediately

September 18, 2021

Sen. Murphy: Hezbollah Fuel Narrative Effective & Persuasive, US Should Address It Immediately

By Staff, Agencies

US Senator Chris Murphy focused on the importance of countering Hezbollah “effective” efforts in providing Iranian fuel to Lebanon.

“Hezbollah is spinning a very effective narrative about the US blockade of energy resources in the country. They’re offering ships of their own through Iran,” Sen. Murphy said during a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The US senator urged the Senate to follow other ways to address the fuel crisis in Lebanon away from Hezbollah. “The narrative is persuasive and there are ways to address fuel shortage,” the Senator said, adding, “This is in Lebanon right now and we have to address this immediately”.

A day earlier, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jim Risch said in a tweet, “Lebanon’s receipt of US-sanctioned Iranian fuel, trucked-in by Hezbollah through Syria, is a disappointing sign for the future of Lebanon’s accountability and democracy.”

The senior US Senate member acknowledged that America’s tough sanctions against Lebanon have been largely ineffective as the Arab country has been receiving desperately-needed fuel from Iran, which is itself under severe sanctions imposed by Washington.

“US sanctions must mean something. It’s unnerving to see this admin. Not make that clear,” the American senator said.

Lebanon is facing a crippling economic crisis due to fuel shortages that have forced businesses and government offices to close while threatening vital sectors of the country.

The plan to buy Iranian fuel, first announced by Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on August 19, marked a watershed in foiling the US sanctions, which have severely affected the two countries.

The first ship containing Iranian fuel entered Syria’s territorial waters early September.

On Thursday, a convoy of tanker trucks carrying Iranian fuel, arranged by Hezbollah, arrived in Lebanon, with Lebanese media reporting that the tankers loaded with Iranian fuel entered the village of Hawsh al-Sayyed Ali in Lebanon’s northeastern Baalbek-Hermel province.

As tanker trucks entered from Syria in the eastern region of Hermel, they were greeted by large crowds of people waving Hezbollah’s yellow flag and women tossing rice and rose petals.

Hezbollah declared that it had broken an “American siege”.

The next Iranian ships are also expected to deliver their cargo to Lebanon through the same pathway.

Touch Move; America’s Vicious Circle in Lebanon

Al Mayadeen English

September 18, 2021 

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Lea Akil 

In light of Lebanon’s current energy and unprecedented economic crises, Hezbollah’s decision to import Iranian oil to aid Lebanon led the US into a state of confusion, thus limiting its options.

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Foreign Policy: The United States has no active plan to rescue the country

Lebanon’s economic crisis is a book with many authors. This is a tale of a country that plunged into poverty, dragging down a large percentage of its population. 

The Lebanese are desperate, as the economic situation in the country worsens. So, the hopes of some Lebanese were pinned on the United States, which issued several statements and expressed some reactions, but made no solid actions. In other words, the United States never intended to provide an action plan to help the country out of its crisis.

It is worth mentioning that one factor of the country’s economic crisis is the siege that the US has put the country under. 

The opening; oil ships to Lebanon 

Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, in a speech on August 20, stated that the “Caesar Act on Syria was not only meant to besiege Syria alone but also Lebanon.” The country is isolated from all directions, Syria from the north and east with the longest borderline, and Palestine since its occupation in 1948.

During the same speech, Sayyed Nasrallah announced, “We agreed with the Iranians to start loading the third ship of oil derivatives,” adding that Lebanon will need more than 3 ships to face the forthcoming stage of the crisis.

He emphasized that there are no aims for trade or profit, “our aim is to alleviate the suffering of the people.” 

The first ship reached Syria’s Baniyas Port on September 12 and its cargo was unloaded. Passing through Syria, the Syrian tankers, each carrying 50,000 liters of Iranian diesel, have made it to Lebanese soil a few days later

Back to the US agenda

International politics and its game rules dictate that there is no clear agenda on the table, especially when it comes to western agendas in West Asia. However, history can sometimes speak for itself.  

During a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Sep 24, 2020, former US Under Secretary of State, David Hale, revealed that the United States has spent $10 billion in Lebanon, on security forces and the army on one hand, and on the civil society represented mostly by non-governmental organizations on the other, throughout several years.

He continued to say that Washington’s support for the Lebanese army comes within the US strategy to confront Hezbollah’s “terrorism”, explaining that the Lebanese army is “capable of carrying out its tasks.”

Back in 2010, July 8, the former US Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman revealed that after Lebanon’s 2006 war, the US invested $500 million to demonize Hezbollah’s image using the media and to drive people away from the party. 

Feltman’s testimony, one of many, reveals that the US wanted to assist and support Lebanon after the war by “reducing” Hezbollah’s appeal to Lebanon’s youth. To this end, the US rushed to invest millions of dollars through USAID and the Middle East Partnership Initiative. 

“Hizballah’s persistence as a well-armed terrorist group within Lebanon, as well as its robust relationships with Iran and Syria, and the transfer of increasingly sophisticated missiles and rockets to Hizballah, threaten the interests of the United States, Lebanon, and our partners in the region, especially Israel,” Feltman stated. 

US policy in stalemate 

There are two moves to play here, either to impose sanctions on Hezbollah or to intervene militarily directly or by proxy. Sanctions were already pushed to their limits, while war looks costly under the current balance of power, with an intrinsic possibility of insurmountable losses.

Following its policy of maximum pressure, the United States imposed sanctions on Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. The three parties were the main players in the current oil transportation route, but sanctions were already there years back. Starting from when the ship set sail from Iran, reaching Syria’s Baniyas port, and then ending on Lebanese territories, America’s siege was considered broken and the US reached stalemate. 

Sayyed Nasrallah clearly and purposely emphasized that the oil ships will indeed reach Lebanese territories. In other words, he was stressing that any attack on the ships would be considered a violation of Lebanese national sovereignty, which will rationally lead to retaliation. Since the other party does understand this simple algorithm, the question is: Is the US ready for escalation?

For a closer look, take a few steps back to August 6. On that day, in response to Israeli raids on Lebanese territories, the Resistance responded.

Hezbollah fired rockets in response to the raids on open areas in Al-Jarmaq and Al-Shawakir, noting that the bombing was carried out with about twenty 122mm rockets.

Checkmate; a win-win for Hezbollah 

In light of talks that Hezbollah would import Iranian oil to Lebanon, a delegation of four US senators announced that the US is looking to help Lebanon overcome its crisis, but warned against importing Iranian oil.

Senator Richard Blumenthal added that there should be no reason for Lebanon to depend on Iran because there are plenty of “other sources” that could be relied on.

Following Sayyed Nasrallah’s speech, in which he announced that Iran would be sending oil ships to Lebanon, the US ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, revealed that the Biden administration is ready to facilitate Jordanian surplus electricity and the export of Egyptian natural gas to Lebanon via Syria. 

It is worth mentioning that the announcement about exporting Egyptian gas was made over a month ago, but the facilitation of the process was hastened right after Sayyed Nasrallah’s speech that without a doubt created a rush of speculations and catalyzed the reactions in the political arena.

This announcement by the Biden administration seems to unintentionally benefit Hezbollah’s plans to aid Lebanon. Needless to mention that the gas they said they will help to export will pass through Syria, a country that is already under a US siege imposed by the Caesar act. It looks like the Americans will have to seek Syria’s help in this regard. 

Zugzwang; the compulsion to move 

The US created a corridor that defies the point behind the siege, which it has imposed on Lebanon, thus forcing it to waiver sanctions on Damascus. As such, the US is forced to either rehabilitate the infrastructure in war-torn Syria or to give it funds to do so in order to use the electric transmission line and gas pipelines, which both need repairs. 

Moreover, Hezbollah welcomed the plan that offers aid to Lebanon, whether from Iran, Jordan, or Egypt, as long as it serves the country. Stability after all appears to serve the interests of the Lebanese party more than its foes’. 

The US policy for Lebanon could be easily marketed as a fierce competition with Iran, but the US plan could nevertheless assist Lebanon out of its crisis, regardless of its real intentions, thus, a win-win situation for Hezbollah that is after stability in its home country. The US, on the other hand, seems to only judge Lebanon primarily through the lens of Israeli interests. 

In sum, just as the Foreign Policy wrote, “The United States has no active plan to rescue the country—nor is there any indication that one is in the works,” adding that, “the United States has only offered ad hoc support, doing the minimum to keep the country from utter collapse.”

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