The Latest About the “Arab” Gas Pipeline The American Mediator: “Israeli” and Served in the Occupation Army
Since talk started about the so-called “Arab Gas Pipeline”, its news has oscillated between months of silence and commotion that grabs the headlines for a few hours or days, after which it returns to hibernation.
Despite the alleged developments in each episode of the “Arab Gas Pipeline” series, the reality of the situation is that the outstanding issues are still the same and have not moved forward even one step. Nevertheless, these “developments”, although they seem insignificant, carry with them something worth considering and trying to read within the regional and international scene and its course.
This is what we have done in past articles on the subject, starting with the questions we posed when extensive talk about it started in the summer of 2021. All the articles on the topic can be accessed through the Kassioun website and the Unit’s page. A brief summary of all the articles on the topic can be found in the last article about this file published by the Unit.
The latest “developments”
Going back to the latest developments, on June 21, Arab and Western news outlets were filled with news about the signing of a new deal within the framework of the so-called “Arab Gas Pipeline”. According to the news, an agreement was signed in Beirut among Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon to export “Egyptian” gas to Lebanon via Syria to transfer 650 million cubic meters annually to the Deir Ammar power plant in northern Lebanon. This amount will help Lebanon produce 450 megawatts of electricity or approximately 3-3.5 hours of power connectivity per day. This will be in addition to the two hours of daily electricity supplied by the state in Lebanon, meaning that most consumers in Lebanon will remain without electricity for up to 18 hours per day.
It is worth noting that the Lebanese state has stopped supplying electricity for 24 hours a day since the 1980s, and the daily hours of power connectivity have continued to decline since then.
As we have previously mentioned, because of sanctions imposed by the US on Syria, Syria will not receive any financial payment in this deal. However, Syria will get a small share of gas in return for the pipeline’s passage through its territory, which is estimated at 130,000 cubic meters per day, which can be used to generate about 18 megawatts, which is an additional 13 minutes of power connectivity per day.
According to the news, the implementation will not start until the conditions of the World Bank, which is supposed to finance the project, are met, nor before obtaining the US’ approval or guarantees that the countries associated with the project will not be targeted due to the sanctions imposed by the Washington on Syria, specifically the so-called “Caesar Act”. So far, these conditions have been the same since the file first emerged nearly a year ago, and we covered them from different angles in several previous articles.
The Lebanese Energy Minister, Walid Fayyad, indicated that the American envoy to this file, Amos Hochstein, had promised during his recent visit to Lebanon, to mediate with the World Bank to expedite the procedures for financing the gas supply process, in addition to what is necessary from the US administration. Amos had previously said: “We have given pre-approval for the project and as soon as Egypt and Lebanon can agree to the terms, which has not happened yet, then we can evaluate the project”. According to one of the sources, a US State Department official, who preferred not to be named, said: “We look forward to reviewing the final contracts and funding terms from the parties to ensure that this agreement is in line with US policy and addresses any potential concerns relating to sanctions”.
Previously, all statements indicated that the signing of the official agreement among the countries depended on approvals and guarantees by the World Bank and the US administration. What remains unclear is what has changed such that the official agreement has been signed, since these approvals and guarantees are still pending. It is also unclear what are the “conditions” that Egypt and Lebanon must agree to in order to start implementing the project, and what conditions were agreed to get the green light to sign the agreement.
As a reminder, and what majority of the news failed to mention in the context of reporting on this project is noting what we have mentioned in everything we have published on the subject, which is that part of the pipelines that will be used in this project are used to export non-liquefied gas from “Israel” to Egypt. In the absence of technologies that can isolate the “Israeli” gas and prevent its passage in the “Arab” gas pipeline, the gas that will reach Lebanon via Egypt, Jordan, and Syria will actually contain stolen Palestinian gas. Not to mention the agreements signed among each of the Zionist entity, Egypt, and Jordan, which expressly state that mixing gas is possible and there is no objection thereto. For example, paragraph 2.5 of the Jordanian-“Israeli” agreement states the following: The seller [the Zionist side] acknowledges that the buyer [the Jordanian side] will import other gas supplies, and this gas is transported using the gas pipeline network in Jordan.
Other related developments
On June 15 – that is, less than a week before the signing of the agreement among Egypt, Lebanon and, Syria – “Israel”, Egypt, and the EU signed a trilateral natural gas agreement in Cairo. The deal will enable “Israel” to increase the export of its natural gas through existing pipelines to Egyptian ports, where it will be compressed and liquefied, and then transported to Europe.
“Israel” had recently promised to speed up its gas production due to the increase in demand and the rise in prices following the Ukrainian crisis, one of the direct results of which was a decrease in the amount of Russian gas reaching Europe.
“Israel” had also promised that, in cooperation with Middle Eastern countries, it would sell gas to Europe. However, according to experts, “Israel’s” current supplies will only be able to cover a small part of the gap that would be left by Russian resources, as “Israel” produces approximately 12 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. In comparison, in 2021, the EU imported 155 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia, which represents about 45% of the EU’s gas imports. Therefore, there is a need for “Israel” to produce more gas by stealing not only Palestinian, but also Lebanese resources.
This brings us to the other development taking place in the region, which is the maritime dispute between “Israel” and Lebanon over the gas fields off the Mediterranean coast, which were discovered over the past few years and the contents of which were estimated to reach 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 122 trillion cubic feet or approximately 3.5 trillion cubic meters of gas. The dispute began several years ago over which of the two sides has the right to the gas fields that have been discovered and thus the right to extract gas therefrom. “Israel” claims that the disputed gas fields are located within its maritime “borders”, and this led to the start of American-mediated indirect negotiations between the two sides to demarcate the maritime borders between them.
On June 5, the dispute reignited after being dormant for a while, when a British oil and gas exploration company came and began developing one of the fields in the disputed area on behalf of “Israel”. This led Lebanon to object that the field should not be developed until after the completion of talks to demarcate the maritime boundaries. As a result, the US mediator came a few days later and held a meeting in Beirut in the context of these developments, and to listen to Lebanese officials about some of the proposals he had previously made on a previous visit several months prior.
The US mediator said in an interview about what he had heard from the Lebanese side that it was “to the effect that the real choice for Lebanon’s future, which is the main concern of the other leaders with whom I met, is to find a solution to the economic crisis that Lebanon is experiencing, which is closely related to the oil file. Resolving the maritime dispute constitutes an essential and important step in order to find a solution to the economic crisis, and to launch the path of recovery and growth”. He also added that he believed “what happened was a serious attempt to look at the options available to move forward, without losing sight of the idea that we have to make concessions and think constructively”.
If the above was general and a preamble, then the essence appears clearer in the mediator’s answer to the questions the press directed to him. One of his responses was that “the most robust files that the Lebanese side is supposed to prepare are those that may succeed, and the successful solution is to stop thinking about whether I have the best legal case and do I have the best position”. He added about the negotiations that they should focus on thinking that “I might not get everything I wanted, but I got a lot more than I have now, and in the case of Lebanon, it is nothing”.
This clearly means that the Lebanese must accept any crumbs of their rights thrown to them, because they are in a major economic crisis, and because they have nothing now. Therefore, they must accept and stop demanding their rights within the “legal” and “legal” framework, and go for a “practical position”. That is, to accept the little of their rights that “Israel” can agree to give them and relinquish the rest, and to stop giving the Zionists and the Americans a headache. Not to mention that the “mediator” himself is the main link with the World Bank, or that he presented himself as such, within an additional process of extortion, by him and the Bank, by which any loans are conditional on “concessions” that must be made.
It is worth noting that the American mediator in this file is also the American envoy for the “Arab Gas Pipeline” file, Amos Hochstein, who held the aforementioned meeting the same week during which the European agreement with “Israel” and Egypt was signed. According to some sources, following that meeting, Lebanon was expected to abandon the “claim” that the gas fields concerned are located within its territorial waters.
If the blackmailing is overt and insolent in the Lebanese case, it is not difficult to conclude that in other cases it is no less insolent, and the assumed concessions are no less catastrophic. Nevertheless, with alternatives available at the global level, the region’s regimes continue to chase after the World Bank and the American system, in one of the greatest farces of history, which must one day be studied as one of the foulest forms of colonial dominance with all its parasitic disciples in the plundered countries.
Who is the American “mediator” to this file?
Perhaps the most insolent chapter of all of this is that the American “mediator” between Lebanon and “Israel”, who is also the one responsible for following up the “Arab Gas Pipeline” from the American side, is also an “Israeli” who had served in the Occupation’s army.
In August 2021, coinciding with the start of the intense media coverage of the “Arab Gas Pipeline” story, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced the appointment of Amos Hochstein as an energy security adviser. In announcing his appointment, Blinken said that “his immediate focus will be implementation of measures to reduce the risks posed by the Nord Stream 2 pipeline”. However, what Blinken did not mention at the time, as later emerged, is that Amos’s tasks also include mediating the maritime border dispute between Lebanon and “Israel” relating to the gas fields off the Mediterranean coast, in addition to following up on the “Arab Gas Pipeline” file in the US administration and with the World Bank.
Hochstein’s academic background is not entirely clear, but he started as a congressional staffer and quickly rose to a policy advisor on international relations committees. He later began to focus on energy issues and worked in the private sector as a consultant and lobbyist for domestic and international oil and gas companies. He also worked at the State Department in the Energy Department during Barack Obama’s presidency, where he led the US Department of Energy’s diplomatic efforts and later was appointed Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs as well as Deputy Secretary of State for Energy Resources. He left his position during the Trump presidency and, as mentioned above, returned to the State Department as an Energy Security Adviser.
Hochstein’s connection with the gas file in the Middle East did not begin after his appointment to his last position. He had previously testified in congressional hearings, including those held by the foreign relations committees. For example, Hochstein was one of the speakers in the September 2016 session of the US House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee entitled “Eastern Mediterranean Energy: Challenges and Opportunities for US Regional Priorities”.
At the beginning of the session, one of the committee’s members said that “natural gas development has the potential to drastically change the geopolitical landscape of the region for the better” and that “since the discovery of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean, Israel's relationships with Greece and Cyprus have improved”. He added that “a potential pipeline carrying Cypriot and Israeli natural gas to and through Turkey could not only improve relations in the region, it could be then routed into Europe. That would help our European friends in reducing their dependence on Russian energy and decrease Russian influence in that area” and that “with cheap Israeli natural gas, we can see Israel strengthening its relationship with Jordan and Egypt and reshaping the traditional alliances in the region”.
Another member of the committee added that “by working to ensure energy security for our allies, the U.S. can engage in diplomacy that improves regional stability”. Another added that “by enabling Israeli development of their natural resources, including the sizable Tamar, Dalit, and Leviathan offshore natural gas deposits, the United States can promote economic growth and help establish trade relationships between Israel and its neighbors, which will mean stability in the Middle East”.
Hochstein spoke during the session, saying in the beginning that “successful exploration, production, and export of natural gas resources in the Eastern Med will require exactly the political cooperation and economic integration that the United States has long supported in the region. This remains a top foreign policy priority for the United States, which is why I have spent a significant amount of my time devoted to these opportunities”. He added later on that “energy will not solve political differences in the region, but it can and, in fact, already has provided incentives to accelerate political accommodation and encourage compromise”. He also touched on the possibility of getting “Israeli” gas to Turkey, which relies primarily on Russia, and secondly on Iran to cover its gas needs. He focused in his remarks on Russia’s attempt to monopolize providing gas to Europe and other parts of the world, especially the region.
Reading the latest developments within the current situation
The identity of the “Arab Gas Pipeline” project as a Western project is becoming increasingly clearer day by day, to confront the East, especially Russia and the Astana track. Moreover, as an American project to “support stability in the Middle East”, which means one thing in the American and Zionist dictionary, is the same thing that Shimon Peres had previously talked about nearly 30 years ago in his book The Greater Middle East, that is, normalization with the Zionist entity using the energy and water issues.
Things are still unclear to Washington about arranging the region in preparation for its withdrawal, and is trying to leave as many cards as possible in its hand until it decides what it will need from each of the parties involved. This also explains the postponement of giving the green light to start implementing the project, while giving insinuations and approvals for partial progress, but not enough to proceed with the project, pending getting the required “concessions”.
Continuing to work to expand the scope of normalization in the region, by continuing to restrict the countries and peoples of the region by bringing them to the point of having nothing. This is with the help of the parasites that have adopted relations with the West and cannot see anything else in the overall international situation. All of this in preparation of the moment of “taking the scrawny rabbits out of the hat”, in accordance with Amos’s method of: “better than nothing”.
The part relating to Syria includes the attempt to bring Syria into the normalization project, and with steady efforts to impede any progress in the political process. Specifically, working to move UNSC Resolution 2254 off the shelf to the complete obliteration, to be replaced by some sort of a settlement, whether under the name of “step for step” or any other name. A settlement whose function is to deepen the de facto division, and to deepen the mass destruction and chaos in the entire region. This would enable, as the US likes to imagine, achieving two main goals: its ability to withdraw while continuing to accomplish the function done by its presence, i.e., chaos; and in parallel, securing its military fortress in the region, that is, “Israel”.