Lebanon: Israel threatens France.

Times are bad for the French oil and gas companies in Lebanon: The French Jean-Pierre Lacroix who chairs the UN undersecretary, in charge of peacekeeping operations in Lebanon (Finul) should convey the message to his superiors.

During a meeting with the Lebanese president, the latter spoke in turn of two issues as if these two issues were well intertwined: the delimitation of the maritime borders of Lebanon, which remains well linked to the question of the integrity of the offshore Lebanese reserves that Israel looted ,also the violation of the Lebanese sky by the same Israeli regime that used and abused the airspace of the Cedar country to hit Syria. It is not without reason that the old Lebanese politician tackles these questions simultaneously in the presence of a French cadre.

During the meeting with this UN peacekeeping official, Aoun expressed his “frustration” at the refusal by “Israel to demarcate its maritime border with Lebanon”:

“Lebanon is still facing Israel’s opposition to delimiting the maritime boundary in the EEZ, despite the proposals that have been made.”

Then he attacked the impunity of Tel Aviv, which, for years, has allowed itself to violate the Lebanese sky, and this, in defiance of the 1701 resolution without the UN, and in other words its Westerners allies, including France, reacting effectively.

“Israel’s maritime, air and land aggression against Lebanon’s sovereignty must stop,” said Aoun.

Political analysts report important contracts signed in February 2018 in Lebanon. The country signed a first offshore hydrocarbon exploration and production contract with the consortium of Total (France), Eni (Italy) and Novatek (Russia) for Block 9 and Block 4 (West-Central).

Israel also claims part of Block 9 in addition to the infringements it has already made on Lebanese gas wealth. For many analysts, president Aoun’s double remark is significant, as he is preparing to go to Moscow where he will have to speak about both military and energy cooperation.

The nature of future discussions and agreements could tip the Lebanese energy sector in favor of the Russians and/or against the French, if they do not prove the privileged ties, they say they have with Lebanon.

Truthfully speaking, Aoun would not conclude his visit to Russia without mentioning the Lebanese anti-aircraft defense issue which those Western countries in general, and France in particular, have always refused to guarantee for Lebanon in the strict objective of ensuring its vulnerable security.

With Russia’s arrival, everything can change in the exploitation of offshore gas fields in Lebanon as well as the country’s military capabilities.

France seems to understand this risk: last month the CEO of Total, Patrick Pouyanné told the Financial Times that Israel was “too complex” for any investment.

While the Tel Aviv regime says it wants to compete with Russia in the European energy market, this poor review of Israel has been interpreted as a sign of agreement towards Moscow.

However, more is needed: France must also show that it is a true partner of Lebanon in terms of energy as well as a military partner, says Hanif Ghafari, analyst of European issues.