Energy minister condemns ‘conspiracy’ against Lebanon oil

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Lebanon’s Energy Minister Gebran Bassil issues a dire warning against stripping control of the Energy Ministry from his parliamentary bloc.

On Feb. 6, 2006, a memorandum of understanding was signed between two Lebanese groups with the aim of bringing together all the Lebanese people. On Feb. 6, 2014, the Lebanese were being threatened with a decree that would divide them.

We have always sought and are still struggling to form a national unity government that is constitutional, in accordance with the Lebanese national pact, which will secure a large confidence vote in parliament.

We have made and are still making political sacrifices to reach such a government because, first, we believe in meeting around a table instead of doing a confrontation in the street. Second, because we are convinced that such a government can be an introduction to the national dialogue, can relieve tension, and can open the way to the upcoming constitutional requirements, be they presidential, governmental or parliamentary. And third, because we are determined to play a pivotal role in bringing together the Lebanese people and strengthening the national unity around a strong state that is capable of preserving stability, fighting terrorism through its official security forces and maintaining Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence through a strong army and a resistance supported by all Lebanese.

But day after day we are seeing that our caring is being misinterpreted as an acceptance of self-elimination, and that whenever we provide a good model for a strong state, it gets rejected precisely because it would produce a strong state. Moreover, we see that whenever we add, they seek to subtract us from the equation, noting that we represent a people who have hope in us and in our model of reform and change, without which the state will not rise.

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We are not the only one being targeted, but so is our political side, those we represent, our approach, our work, and the concept of the strong state whose president, government, ministers, security officials and judges are also strong; a state that is strong in its potential and wealth.

Regarding the wealth issue, the matter is bigger than us being targeted. It is a conspiracy affecting all citizens and their hopes in reviving Lebanon and making it prosperous through its wealth.

Lebanon has several sources of wealth of course, natural, human, cultural and civilizational. Its natural resources are aesthetic and material. The latter include oil and water, both of which had been directly and indirectly targeted until today.

But here I will only focus on the oil wealth because it is, outwardly and inwardly, the obstacle to the government’s formation. The proof is that everybody has overcome major political hurdles, including the people-army-resistance mantra, but could not overcome the oil hurdle except with their so-called “ministerial rotation,” which today is the means of the conspiracy on Lebanon’s oil.

That plot cannot be implemented unless we are removed, and that effectively started when Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigned. It was an act aimed at elbowing us out and at stopping the oil companies’ tender, which would have happened had the government made a decision on that matter before it resigned, or did so in a special session after it resigned.

The government’s resignation was part of the conspiracy against both us and the oil because everybody knows that, under the “ministerial rotation” pretext, we (the Change and Reform Bloc) will not get the Energy Ministry in any new government, even one headed by the outgoing prime minister or a new prime minister-designate. That is despite that the “ministerial rotation” principle is neither in the constitution nor has it been practiced by custom. And there is no guarantee that, if applied now, it will continue to be applied. There will be no incentive to apply it later, because it would have accomplished its only aim: removing us from that ministry forever.

Some think that we would abandon what have been fighting for more than four years, just when we are two steps away from reaping the achievement. They think that we would abandon our fight at a moment when the one who once said, “The republic is more important than the presidency of the republic,” is weak. They think that today he would say, “Lebanon’s wealth is more important than personal wealth.”

So we will fight those conspiring against our oil, be they internal or external parties. And we will protect Lebanon’s oil and wealth with all our strength, not for the sake of a person or a political side, but to protect Lebanon and its national pact and all the Lebanese.

We are convinced that Lebanon’s strength will allow it to survive and that its strength lies in the strength of the state and institutions first, and in the strength of its potential and wealth second.

Only a strong Lebanon can put an end to the growing strength of its strong parties and give strength to its vulnerable class. Only a strong Lebanon can make its enemies fear it and its friends respect it.

Our national duty requires us to preserve our country’s areas of strength, not fragment them, to protect our sovereignty as well as our political and material independence.

A government, even a unity government, may not be able to stop the bombings alone. But a “de facto” government, even if a unity government, will inevitably be the reason for the big blow up for both Lebanon and its wealth. So be warned.

We warn anyone against threatening us with a government that violates the national pact, in its customs, the identity of its ministers, or the ministerial portfolios. We will not recognize the legitimacy nor the existence of such a government. And we will resist it more fiercely than we resisted the governments of Syrian tutelage.

We warn against threatening the Christians by placing them outside the state. The experience of the tutelage era will not be repeated and we will stay inside the state, by force if necessary, so that the state remains strong.

We warn anyone against threatening Lebanese unity on Feb. 6 and causing us to go back to … Feb. 5.

[Note: Gebran Bassil is the energy minister in the caretaker government.]

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Found in: politics, political conflict, oil revenue, oil & gas, lebanon, interim government, government formation
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