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Daily News Analysis

Wider implications of Iraq-Lebanon oil agreement

Crescent International

As Lebanon’s economic crisis continues to inflict heavy social and political cost on the country, the political outcome of the crisis is likely to differ from those intended by external powers.

This is reflected by Lebanon’s oil deal with Iraq.

Prior to analyzing the wider implications of this barter agreement, it is necessary to examine the larger backstory of Lebanon’s economic crisis.

While it has a lot to do with internal dynamics, the internal issues are only a part of the picture.

This is the part the Western corporate media outlets love to focus on.

It absolves the NATO regimes and Zionist Israel of any responsibility for destabilizing Lebanon.

The ongoing crisis in Lebanon has to do with economics and politics.

These must also be viewed within the broader geopolitical context of the region.

Lebanon is the only country to have ended Zionist occupation of its territory on its own terms, through Hizbullah’s valiant resistance.

Anyone who thinks that this phenomenon has little to do with the situation in Lebanon, should simply look at developments in Sudan.

Just a few months after Sudan’s supposed civilian government, which is heavily influenced by its military junta, recognized the Zionist occupation of Palestine, Khartoum received approval from the IMF for relief on more than $56 billion in debt and new funding of $2.5 billion over three years.

Lebanon is one of the few Arab countries with a decades long electoral process, government coalition building tradition and a vibrant free press.

Yet, it has not only been refused financial assistance by Western regimes, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell threatened to institute sanctions against it in June 2021.

Lebanon’s ongoing political and economic crises are presented by the corporate media in apocalyptic terms.

This is mainly for sinister objectives.

While the situation is difficult, Lebanon has been through tougher times.

Plausibly, there is a growing possibility that indigenous regional solution is in the making and will probably reorient the political and economic compass of Lebanon away from Western regimes.

When Israel invaded Lebanon and later continued to interfere in its affairs, the Lebanese society formed an alternative structure to the failed conventional state structures.

The state mechanisms could not effectively restore Lebanon’s territorial integrity and end Israel’s occupation.

Hizbullah became the unconventional state structure through which Lebanon restored almost all of its territorial sovereignty, minus the Sheeba farms.

Since its inception, Hizbullah has always tried to stay out of petty internal politics and focus on the bigger geopolitical issues.

However, as Lebanon’s political elite came to adopt an obnoxious and arrogant posture, Hizbullah had to repeatedly step-up and increase its socio-political role.

Through activating internal political leverages, Israel and its NATO allies always worked to curtail Hizbullah’s power.

Since 2006, this approach has led to the exact opposite result.

In 2006, when Israel tried to turn the Lebanese population against Hizbullah by launching a war and destroying civilian infrastructure, Hizbullah’s credibility and support among the Lebanese and the wider Muslim word increased significantly.

In May 2008, when the local political elite attempted to do Israel’s bidding and tried to take control of Hizbullah’s communication system, the resistance humiliated Israel’s proxies and made them politically and militarily redundant.

The Doha Agreement which followed, made Hizbullah even more influential internally.

In 2011 when Western regimes ignited a civil war in Syria with among others, the aim to undermine Hizbullah’s military power and regional logistical capabilities, Hizbullah came out of the crisis much stronger.

This reality was attested to even by US experts in 2015.

As Lebanon’s external enemies switched into high gear of the economic war against Lebanon and Syria in July 2020, Hizbullah made it clear that it will seek greater participation in economic policies.

In June 2020, the General Secretary of Hizbullah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah implied quite clearly that the movement is in contact with China to shift Lebanon’s economic compass away from Western institutions.

A few days ago, Iraq signed an agreement with Lebanon’s government to pay for one million tonnes of oil through a barter mechanism, easing economic pressure on the country’s foreign currency reserves.

As reported by the Qatari regime TV channel, Al Jazeera, “Iraqi Finance Minister Ali Allawi and Lebanese caretaker Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar co-signed the agreement in the presence of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Lebanese officials have said the Iraqi supplies will ease the situation at home.

Ghajar, speaking on his return to Beirut after signing the deal, said the fuel would be used for electricity generation and was enough for four months.

He said it was “worth about $300m to $400m.”

While Lebanon’s deal with Iraq may appear to be a minor regional transaction, its geopolitical implications are much bigger than the deal itself.

In Iraq, Hizbullah and Iran’s strategic allies exercise significant power in all domains.

The oil barter agreement most likely took place at the behest of Hizbullah.

The agreement is essentially a sign that Hizbullah has the ability and from now on will participate in regional economic dealings, once again confirming its role as an Islamic resistance movement with a regional and multifaceted dimension.

It seems that Hizbullah will no longer confine itself to local politics.

It is likely to increase its profile as a non-conventional political force with regional clout in various spheres, including economics.

Those who had assumed that by igniting an economic crisis in Lebanon, Hizbullah’s influence will be curtailed will soon wake up to a different reality.

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