By Abir Bassam

Amir Abdollahian and the Iranian offers on the Lebanese table

October 15, 2021 - 17:27

TEHRAN - On the 8th of October, Mr. Hussein Amir Abdollahian, the Iranian foreign minister, visited Lebanon. He was formally received and welcomed. So far, within the send and received diplomatic letters, everything was fine. He met with three presidents in Lebanon, the President, the Prime Minister, and the Head of the Parliament. Everyone was friendly and warmly welcomed the visit, but what about the offers he brought to Lebanon, and how receptive the Lebanese government was to these offers?

As usual, so far, nothing has happened! Mr. Abdollahian brought with him important offers to Lebanon, which are mostly needed. The first is to build two electricity factories, one in the South and the second in the North. The second is to give a hand in solving the transportation problem in Lebanon by Construction of a subway station. Iran has vast experience in the two fields. And finally rebuilding Beirut Harbor, but?

Unless France has previously agreed to build the harbor with the help of the Iranians, it is difficult for Iran to receive this file. Ambassador Pierre Dukan was in Beirut during Mr. Abdollahian’s visit. He came in an exploratory mission, during which he will meet with a number of senior officials in the Ministry of Finance, the Banque du Liban, and others to discuss developments related to the planned reform measures and to keep pace with the results of the Elysée meeting between Macron and Mikati. The visit came as a start of preparations for the resumption of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and a week after the Elysée meeting between Macron and Mikati. The commissioner is in Beirut to follow up on the decisions of the CEDRE 1 conference. It is common that France will rebuild the harbor, but it seems that it is also waiting for the American green light to begin. 

The U.S. demands Lebanon to turn against Hezbollah and start the normalization process with the Zionist entity. Oddly, the Minister of Energy and Water of Lebanon, Kamal Fayad, denied receiving any formal offer from Iran and any other Eastern State, as if the offers from China and Russia have evaporated. It is either that the minister did not check the files on his desk, or he is turning a deaf ear. Indeed, he is expressing the political attitude of Mr. Najib Mikati’s government towards turning east. In addition, there are two offers to build or rebuild electricity power in Lebanon besides the Russian, a German one, which Mr. Mikati and his government and the World Bank would be leaning for.

Frankly, it is not a strange attitude. It was expected since Mr. Mikati’s government has come to apply the World Bank rules and regulations. He also offers himself as the true friend of Saudi Arabia. And unless the Arabian kingdom receives the American green light, which the kingdom will never receive; consequently, it cannot give it to Mr. Mikati. This permission will not be considered after the visit Mr. Abdollahian paid to Sayyed Hassan Nasrullah, Secretary-General of Hezbollah.

When the Foreign Minister visited Sayyed Nasrullah, the visit was seen as a message to both the Israeli and the Americans, at a time Iran is supposed to be heading for another round of nuclear talks. The minister verbally expressed the message that Iran is still openly supporting the Islamic resistance in Lebanon against Israel, and Iran is content to provide oil products to the Lebanese people. Iran, in providing part of the people’s need of gasoline, has taken with Hezbollah a leap of faith and has won their respect and appreciation. And many people are waiting for the arrival of the Iranian benzene, hoping that it would be for more reasonable prices.

The bottom line is that the Lebanese can demand the Americans to exclude them if they accept the Iranian offer. However, there are other choices; Iran and Hezbollah are quite aware of those choices! They have tested them after the “Israeli” war on Lebanon in 2006. The American sanctions towards building factories for producing electricity are definitely different from building knocked down buildings in Dahia [the Sothern Suburb in Beirut] or from paving roads in South Lebanon. Even the general international atmosphere is different today from 2006. However, there are choices to be considered!

If the Lebanese government did not respond to the Iranian offer, then most likely, Hezbollah is going to act. By Lebanese law, if a grant or donation was offered to any municipality by any friendly state or organization, the municipality has the right to accept the grant without considering the government’s accord, as long as Lebanon is not in a state of war with this particular country. Therefore, Hezbollah can accept the Iranian offer to build an electrical factory in the Beqaa or al-Dahia, or many are in the South.

Accordingly, Ghobeiry Municipality, which is located in the Dahia, on the 10 of this month has declared its willingness to offer land in Ghobeiry for building one of the factories, considering that it is the right of the municipality to provide electricity for its own inhabitants as much any other city did, such as Zahleh in Beqaa, and Jubail. These two cities have worked on their own source of electricity as produced a full-powered source of electricity 24/24.

Mayor of Ghobeiry, Mr. Maan Al-Khalil, chose a specific land that certain powerful men manipulate as a private Golf Course. It is certainly the boldest step that will stir troubles. However, it can be considered as a good solution to rely on. On the other hand, some informative people suggested turning the Costa Brava area by the seashore or the wastes dump in Khalda and many other places on the seashore as a better alternative. The Golf Course is considered to be an environment-friendly place.

Consequently, another factory can be built in the North. This is possible. There are choices that need brave initiatives and brave actions. Lebanon nowadays is living in a state of darkness in general. The private generators in Beirut provide 10 hours of electricity per day. However, they charge high prices; it is more than 12 times higher than the official state electricity. Around our neighborhood, many houses have stopped generating electricity from private sources. They and their families are living in total darkness. It is heartbreaking!

The consecutive governments in Lebanon have been going from one failure to another in rebuilding the electricity sector. The electricity field is a gold mine; however, it is now indebted in 10s of billions of dollars. Let us boldly put the cards on the table: electricity, communication, water, and social security sections in Lebanon are at the risk of being offered privatization. This is one of the World Bank’s demands in Lebanon to sell these sections to pay the Lebanese debts.

It is easy to conclude here the choices Lebanon has. They can either that keep rolling down in the trench of misery, which is an American demand so that the Lebanese would turn against Hezbollah, demand disarming it, and signing Abraham Agreement and go into the normalization process with the Zionist entity, or Lebanon can turn east and accept the Chinese and Russian investment offers. Nonetheless, suppose the current government will not take the second offer out of fear of the American sanctions. In that case, the only choice left is for Hezbollah to accept grants and offers presented through its elected municipalities.

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