AMMAN, Jordan: To assist during its crippling energy crisis, Lebanon has signed agreements to purchase electricity from Jordan transmitted via Syria.
The World Bank is to finance the agreements, which are expected to bring up to 250 megawatts of electricity per day within two months, enough for about two hours of power a day, and negotiations for more are ongoing.
Lebanon’s Energy Minister, Walid Fayyad, said he expects financing negotiations to conclude in two months, stating, “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.”
“We do not want to promise the Lebanese people that as soon as we sign, electricity will come,” he told reporters during the ceremony.
The U.S. has offered reassurances that it supports regional efforts to help Lebanon deal with its energy crisis, and is reviewing such agreements to ensure that no sanctions are triggered.
But a U.S. State Department spokesperson said no Syrian sanctions have been waived, adding that Washington has discussed this with the Lebanese and Jordanian governments.
“While we understand that the delivery of electricity must necessarily transit the Syrian grid, it is 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,” said a U.S. spokesperson.
The energy shortage is a leading cause of Lebanon’s snowballing economic crisis. A considerable public deficit and a crashing national currency have made shortages worst amidst soaring inflation.
Shortages of medicine, fuel and basic supplies have often brought the country to a standstill and driven more than half of the population into poverty.
Fayyad praised what he described as proactive Arab cooperation, and Jordanian Energy Minister Saleh Kharabsheh said the agreement reinforces cooperation between the neighboring countries and comes at a “critical time for Lebanon.”
“This is not only to the benefit of Lebanon, but in the interest of all. Any cooperation between Arab countries is in the interest for all,” he said.
Lebanon has also negotiated a deal with Egypt for natural gas delivered through Jordan and Syria.