Syria to Lebanon’s rescue

By turning to Iran for fuel, Hezbollah forced the US to break its own embargo on Syria

By approving a visiting Lebanese delegation’s request to transit Egyptian gas and Jordanian power through its territory to Lebanon, the Syrian state has shown once again that it can rise above wounded pride and petty considerations. The agreement should help alleviate the crippling energy crisis that has caused severe fuel shortages and near-constant power cuts in Lebanon, forcing hospitals to cut services and mills and bakeries to shut down.

The credit is largely due to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. By turning to Iran to supply oil and gas to Lebanon in defiance of the US and Israel, and pledging to protect incoming Iranian tankers from any attempted attack, he forced the US’ hand. Its hitherto imperious ambassador, Dorothy Shea, was compelled to back down and turn to Jordan and Egypt for alternative solutions. In the process, she broke her own country’s blockade of Syria imposed under the so-called Caesar Act, exposing the fragility of the embargo and the success of Syria’s policy of strategic forbearance in contending with it.

The Lebanese politicians who take their orders from the ambassador have persistently opposed any cooperation with Syria. For the past decade they have deemed it an unforgivable sin for a Lebanese minister to even visit Damascus. They should bow their heads in shame. They owe the Lebanese and Syrian people an apology for their malice, racism and short-sightedness, and for colluding in the economic suffocation of a neighbour that has always stood by Lebanon’s side and shed much of its own blood in its support.

Were it not for the sacrifices made by Hezbollah and its allies, ISIS/Daesh would have taken over in parts of Lebanon by now, with the blessing of the US and the aim of embroiling Hezbollah in an internal war of attrition and diverting it from its primary purpose of resisting Israeli occupation.

The Syrian authorities did not attempt to settle scores for a decade of hostility and insults on the part of some Lebanese. They received the delegation led by deputy premier Zeina Akar cordially and at the highest levels and agreed to all it asked for, despite knowing it would never have dared step across the border without a green light from the US.

This magnanimous attitude has exposed the feebleness, pettiness, and failure of the policies pursued by the US and its clients in Lebanon, and silenced the sectarian voices seeking to ratchet up tensions at the behest of foreign powers.

Syria has thereby made a major contribution to bailing out its neighbour, both on the political/security and economic/humanitarian levels. It is no exaggeration to say it has helped prevent or postpone the prospect of a ruinous civil war.

The US ambassador finally softened her heart towards the Lebanese people after three-quarters of them were reduced to poverty and food insecurity and deprived of the basic requirements of life. She cited her compassion for them as the reason she reached out to Jordan and Egypt for a ‘lifeline’ to prevent Iranian tankers from bringing diesel and gasoline Lebanon to. But although she had to violate the cruel Caesar Act to achieve that, she had no word of sympathy for more than 20 million Syrians facing hunger and misery under her country’s embargo.

Washington’s Gulf allies, most of whom are floating on oceans of oil and gas, meanwhile stood idly by, as though relishing the suffering of their supposed Lebanese brethren. They declined to send them a single barrel to help them out of their ordeal.

Following its humiliating defeat in Afghanistan, the US has now been dealt a lesser defeat at the hands of the ‘axis of resistance and its leaders. More are sure to follow in time — in Iraq, Syria and Palestine too.

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