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On January 26th, 2022, Lebanon signed deals to purchase electricity from Jordan via Syria, that will help the small country to deal with the energy crisis.

The World Bank is expected to finance the deals. Walid FAYYAD, Lebanon’s Energy Minister said he expects financing negotiations to conclude in two months.

After signing today, we are left with the financing through the World Bank, something I will work on as soon as possible. The details will be clear in the next two months” FAYYAD told reporters. “This is an important, historic moment for Lebanon… not because of its impact but because of its symbolism,” FAYYAD told a news conference.

Lebanon’s electricity company (EDL) offers only a couple of hours of power a day, and residents have heavily relied on costly and polluting private generators. Prior to the country’s financial crisis, EDL was only able to provide about 21 hours of electricity a day. With the crisis, the government has been unable to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in advances and other measures to keep the company functioning.

Jordanian Energy Minister Saleh al-KHARABSEH said the step comes as “our brothers in Lebanon face sensitive and difficult circumstances“.

Lebanon and Jordan also signed an electricity transit agreement with Syria, which said that it stands ready to connect its power grid.

The Syrian Energy Minister Ghassan al-ZAMIL told reporters in Beirut that: “We are ready to connect to the power grid at any time“. He is the first Syrian official to officially visit Lebanon in more than a decade.

He said the US sanctions, known as the Caesar act, are of no concern to his government. “It is imposed by a country. It is not a law,” he told reporters. “What concerns us in this deal, despite the Syrian government putting up with a lot of expenses to fix the pipelines which were not a priority for the government or the electricity ministry, is the insistence of the government to offer more to support Arab cooperation.”

US has offered reassurances to Lebanon and Egypt that it supports regional efforts to help Lebanon deal with its energy crisis, while reviewing such agreements to ensure that no sanctions are triggered.

A State Department spokesperson said no Syria sanctions have been waived and added that Washington has been in touch with the Lebanese and Jordanian governments to understand how the agreements will be structured and financed to ensure it is in line with U.S. policy and addresses any potential sanctions concerns.

While we understand that the delivery of electricity must necessarily transit the Syrian grid, it’s important to underscore our robust sanctions regime against the Assad government remain fully in force. We have not lifted or waived any Syria-related sanctions in this case, or any other” the spokesperson said on condition of anonymity in lines with regulations.



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