A fuel crisis is causing power cuts that has blanketed Lebanon in darkness for as much as 22 hours in a day. Today this darkness that overshadows Beirut, also foreshadows its future.
However, Lebanon’s fuel crisis has nothing to do with its ability in getting the fuel, or a shortage of US dollars. As a country we’ve imported the same amount of fuel this year as we did last year. In fact Lebanon imports fuel from various sources, including Europe and the US. Our problem is what’s happening with the fuel once it arrives. It’s not going to the refineries, so where is it going?
The Lebanese Internal Security Forces conducted an investigation to get to the bottom of this phenomenon. They found that, in Lebanon, and in recent months, private construction of metal tanks meant to store fuel has increased. Which could only mean that fuel is being hoarded. Fuel distributors are storing the fuel, with no intention of distributing it.
Want to hear another fun fact? Do you know how we as a country import fuel? Go ahead, take a guess. Do you think our respectable government, approaches another respectable government and buys fuel directly from them?
No. We task a bevy of “private contractors” to purchase fuel for us. How these private contractors get the fuel is murky and unknown. They just need to follow a list of fuel specifications. That’s about it. The whole process is a combination of shady contractors, subsidized rates, and speculative profits. It isn’t only a botched system, it’s worse than that. It doesn’t reek of incompetency, but of downright corruption.
So who, exactly, is responsible for knocking Lebanon’s lights out?
Like every sector in Lebanon, the fuel business is heavily politcized, ruled by cryonism, and is run by a mafia. This mafia only cares about their own interests. They threaten, bully, and bulldoze their way to getting what they want. The Lebanese fuel mafia realize the power of, well…power. They understand that electricity cuts run deep. So deep in fact that the outrage caused by outages are capable of toppling whole governments. After all, it has happened in the past. Thus, they hoard fuel, cause power outages, which in turn stirs up public angst, giving them a powerful political play that can be leveraged to grant them whatever they want.
The politicians and ministers you see on TV giving press conferences, the ones with the fancy cravates and slick-combed hair, they don’t run the country. They’re just there for show. Like ventriloquist dummies, they follow the same concept: do as you are told.
In Lebanon, the real rulers, the true tyrants, are the ones behind the scenes. They work in shadows like the ones brought on from their siege on fuel. They don’t want to be seen but see everything. They don’t want to be heard but they hear everything. They don’t want to be touched, but they have their hands on everything. Their interests run so deep into the state that they are in fact the deep state. Upsetting them would be to upset the natural order of things. They hold the country for ransom. Until then Lebanon’s fuel will continue to be hoarded, only given out in spurts, or taken across the border whenever the grass proves greener.
In this country every crisis is an opportunity. Such is the status quo of our dear Lebanon. A captivating yet cursed country. A Taj Mahal that is run like a brothel.
*For a more technical explanation of the crisis I suggest you read this article. The author does an excellent job of explaining it.
Writers note: I hope history clearly remembers that during Lebanon’s most dire, worrisome times there were Politicians and Party Leaders that stood idly by and allowed things to reach this point because of petty disputes and personal interests. They know who they are. As for Lebanon’s “salvation” government, they couldn’t salvage a rubber duck in an overflowing bathtub. It’d be best if they took their ball and went home. They don’t know how to play the game. They sit and watch as the game plays them.