Highest-level visit to Syria by Lebanon Ministers
A visit will be made today by delegates of Lebanon’s government to Syria aiming to pave the way for a US-backed plan to ease a power crisis in Lebanon by transmitting electricity via the Syrian grid.
Lebanese government officials have mostly avoided Syria since war began there in 2011 as Beirut adopted a policy of staying out of regional conflicts. This visit is of great significance as Lebanon is suffering energy shortages that have forced even essential services, including hospitals, to shut down and scale back operations majorly.
Although, Lebanese security officials and politicians have made several visits to Syria in last few years but they were not so formal and exclusive. They mostly confided as trips in the personal capacity or for extending support for al-Assad’s government.
Officials from US stated that they are in progressive talks with Egypt, Jordan and the World Bank to help find solutions to Lebanon’s energy crisis. U.S. sanctions on Damascus are a complicating factor in any effort to help Lebanon via Syria. This issue was especially discussed by U.S. senators during their last visit to Lebanon.
It was also brought in notice by U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen that they were being looked at to address the complication despite the Caesar Act. The U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, mentioned that there is a concrete will to make the plan happen.
Since Lebanon, is a country of more than six million people, it is grappling with an economic crisis. World Bank has listed Lebanon as one of the planet’s worst in modern times. Though, even the central bank is struggling to afford basic imports, including fuel, which has caused shortages and prolonged power cuts that now last as long as 22 hours per day. This has made lives for all the residents terrible and frustrating.