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Out of its depth

Seven to ten years minimum. That is the time frame for Lebanon to potentially benefit from the estimated 1.9 billion barrels of oil and 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and oil that lie under the seabed in our territorial waters. Naturally, the government needs to act with greater urgency if it is to set in motion the process for Lebanon to eventually end its reliance on imported energy reserves and inject much-needed funds into the economy.
 
If and when we get them (we say “if” because there is a chance—albeit slim—that the fields could be too small and too deep, making drilling technically very difficult and too expensive to be worth all the effort) the proceeds would boost our foreign currency reserves and service Lebanon’s huge national debt. They could also be plowed into infrastructure such as roads, utilities, water and electricity, leading to eventual privatization, while any excess can be used to create a sovereign wealth and/or a social welfare fund.
 
But typically, till now the government has done little to exploit the potential wealth in our waters. The oil and gas law was passed in late 2010, but we are still waiting for the creation of the so-called Petroleum Authority so it can tender licenses for exploration and drilling.
 
And as usual, the issue has been hijacked for political purposes. In January, Energy Minister Gebran Bassil employed defiant rhetoric in a bid to draw attention away from the delays, declaring that “Lebanon has drawn its [maritime] borders based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea” and warned that “no Lebanese will accept either the renunciation of their energy resources or their maritime rights.”
 
He was, of course, hinting at the potential of a maritime border dispute with Israel, hoping to strike a jingoistic chord with the Lebanese. But in reality his words were insulting and crass. With the exception of card-carrying party drones, and their numbers are dwindling by the day, most Lebanese gave up listening to their politicians a long time ago. They want to see results.
 
There can be no more pussy footing and no more procrastination. This government has been a catastrophic failure at every turn, and its inability to move forward on the oil and gas file has once again highlighted its incompetence. Bottom line, the state is out of its depth (no pun intended) when it comes to dealing professionally, efficiently and transparently with complex matters. The public sector is so shot through with incompetence and corruption, and so threadbare in its talent, it is hard to think how this or any other progress will ever evolve.
 
Last week in this column we castigated the government over its inability to deal with the growing level of petty crime and pointed out that public confidence in the government’s performance was at an all-time low. Now there is further evidence of gross mismanagement, and ironically it comes from a ministry run by Gebran Bassil, one of Michel Aoun’s so-called clean technocrats.
 
And let us not forget the ever-present shadow of Hezbollah, a party that will waste no time in hijacking anything it can blister onto its cause, no matter what the cost to the country. Ironically, for a party that claims to put Lebanon before all else, Hezbollah has contributed little to the growth of the state over the past decade.
 
With parliamentary elections set for next year, the opposition March 14 bloc must make this and other pressing economic and social concerns the big-ticket items. As for March 8, we have witnessed its failure in all its shabby mediocrity. The sooner it is consigned to the bone yard of Lebanese politics, the sooner we can get on with the belated task of rebuilding our country.

  • ali daoud

    @ fawaz, ignoring the alliance between Hariri and Khaddam and Kenaan doesn`t hold, Hariri controlled Lebanon`s economy through the syrian support, he would have never dreamt of Solidere for example without the syrian support, Hariri resorted to the syrians in order to pressure their Lebanese allies every time one of his projects had an obstacle, and we all remember all of Hariri`s governments slogan " The syrian presence is necessary, legal, and temporary", even Jacques Chirac of France repeated it in our Lebanese Parliament in his last visit. yes, HA was an ally of syria, but HA used his alliance with syria in order to strengthen his Resistance and free Lebanon from any israeli occupation, however, Hariri and Jumblatt used their alliance with syria to grab our economy and control Lebanon economically, politically and in serivces to their loyalists. however, hariri was never able to control neither HA nor the Lebanese Army.

    May 10, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @ sami, again sami, don`t assume, you know the saying when one assumes!!! habibi, i watch LBC and MTV much more than al Manar, i watch al Jadeed while i never watch NBN, i watch CNN and BBC while i never watch al 3alam Iranian, i daily browse Now Lebanon while i rarely browse Al Tayyar, now about Sayyed Hassan, he is the cleanest sincerest most courageous patriotic Lebanese, but hate is blind.

    May 9, 2012

  • fawaz

    Majd living abroad for so long you lose track of what actually happened. The key to Beirut was given to Kanaan by Beirut's Mayor Arisse not Hariri. Pierre Sadek drew a cartoon and was reprimanded by Syrian lackey Adnan Addoum. Emile Lahoud earlier awarded Kanaan the Cedar medal of the Commodore Order at a ceremony held in Baabda. Kannan was being promoted by Bashar to Syria's interior minister and replaced by Ghazaleh who continued the Syrian policy. Most of M14 were against the Syrian occupation calling it what it is while all of M8 were supporting it, Kanaan and Khaddam's role in it. When Aoun came back to Lebanon from his cowardly exile he campaigned against the Syrian legacy and Hezbollah's arms as his orange book confirms. But now we know he had already made a deal with the Syrians and M8 before he returned. In return they renounced pursuing embezzlement charges, unfroze his assets, gave him his pension and supported his bid for the presidency.

    May 9, 2012

  • Sami

    @majd, again you make the mistake of thinking I am a political and religious slave like you. The hek with future and march 14 and march 8 and march 11 and march xyz. Don't make me get disappointed with you again. Get out of your shell and free yourself of tiranny! Try to watch less of NBN and MANAR and try to turn your TV off when Nasrallah tries to light up a fire under your belly with his speeches! try this for few weeks and get back to me on your condition then.

    May 9, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @ fawaz, look, once your allies rid themselves of their alliance with the once ruler of Lebanon Khaddam, and once they call him the names he deserves, and once Hariri the son gets back the Keys of Beirut which was given by Hariri the father to Kenaan, and once your allies get back from their syrian partners and from their own bank accounts the money they both stole from our country, and once your allies get back all the villas/ Gifts they gave to their syrian partners, once they do all that, come and look me in the eye. you cannot rule the whole country and grab its wealth via the aid of the syrians, and later come up and claim, " oh sorry, they are occupiers, i grabbed the country`s wealth due to a balck cloud on my eyes"!!!

    May 8, 2012

  • you were all thinking it

    Even when the article is relating to a strictly local Lebanese matter and about the well being of every Lebanese citizen, Majd clueless about anything Lebanese defends Syria and it's thirty years of occupation claiming that the family running Syria since the early seventies had nothing to do with the occupation of Lebanon, how can anyone take him seriously.

    May 8, 2012

  • fawaz

    sami I guess Majd of Dearborn Michigan agrees with us that Hafez was an out of his depth bumbling impotent leader who let Kanaan and Khaddam 1. walk all over him using his mukhabarates, occupation army and even his air force to control Lebanon for their friend Hariri. 2. He also opened his prisons for them to store Lebanese who disapprove of the Syrian occupation. 3. I almost forgot that Hafez also turned a blind eye to them stealing billions from the Lebanese treasury and moving them to Syrian banks under their names and the names of many other close to Hafez and Bashar. Kanaan and Khaddam are so sneaky they fooled Hafez so long it took him twenty years to discover their scam, I'm surprised Hafez could dress himself in the morning without assistance. I wonder why did Kanaan in 2000 divide Beirut into three in an attempt to break his friend Hariri's electoral hold on it.. not important never mind.

    May 7, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @ sami, ya sami, don`t put words in my mouth every time you feel so weak! Bashar is the Leader, he is the best, and yes, many other syrian officials especially your allies among them are so bad, you both stole our country`s wealth and economy, once your future movement expresses his dissassociation of Khaddam and Kenaan come and look me in the eyes. untill then, you have no interest in calling Bashar or others any names.

    May 7, 2012

  • Sami

    @majd, you are again saying that the entire syrian leadership is bad. that is good enough for me. that is what I wanted to hear.

    May 7, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @sami, ya sami, do you think the long list of all those names you mentioned would change anything in the fact that: 1st, Ghazi Kenaan was Hariri`s ally and they both run Lebanon, 2nd, Khaddam was Hariri`s best friend and still is and both run Lebanon, 3rd Refaat al Assad had many problems with Hafez and Bashar and he is now in the opposition front. so, no matter how many names you cite, you allied yourselves with the worst syrians ever passed in Lebanon, and it turned out those same syrians (at least Khaddam) are allies to israel too and are ready - as you are - to ally yourselves with our nation`s enemies in order to finish the unique Lebanese Resistance against israel.

    May 6, 2012

  • Sami

    @majd, Rifaat Assaad is enemy of Al Assaad??? he is enemy of himeself?! you'r a good jocker man. How about your buddies in Hamas? they are traitors now? jumblat is a traitor? qatar traitor? Rafsanjani is traitor? Mir-Houssein Mousavi traitor? Sobhi Tfaili traitor? Mohammad Khatami traitor? and of course the zionist Michel Aoun and the zionist Fayez Karam as you used to call them are great national heros now. Nabil Nkola wants Lebanese (not him) to throw stones at Joe Lieberman (Nkola and Aoun have no time for that of course), this Joe Lieberman is Aoun's godfather in congress. He is the one who took Aoun with Fayez Karam to testify against your beloved Syria in Washington. That is when everyone in your gang went on TV to denounce Aoun and label him as a traitor and called for his execution. According to WIKILEAKS (to which your Hassouna gave recently interview to) Berri said that "hitting Hizballah is like HONEY ON MY HEART". If you are looking for enemies, look close to you,very clos

    May 5, 2012

  • fawaz

    Hoss clearly supports Bashar .. Oh? Majd fellow Fawaz of Dearborn Michigan, that's old news get with the program, ...

    May 5, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @sami, you missed again sami, look at my last statement about abdl Nasser, any way, those syrian thieves are nobody but your allies and the same people who were bribed by your allies and the same people who run Lebanon and conspired against al Assad father and son, and no matter what you say to cover your filthy relationship with those syrians, no one can deny that Kenaan and Refaat and Khaddam were and still your allies and al Assad enemies, mabroukeen 3layk, ne7na 2erta7na mennoun, kaman mabrouk 3layk the famous PICTURE of your great MP Boutros Harb kneeling to Feltman, and you want us to believe that your heroes are the ones caring about sovereignty, independence and Freedom, you all should go and take lessons from Sayyed Hassan and Bashar al Assad on how to deal with enemies and arrogant people such as the US offcials, shame shame shame on Boutros Harb, Vive the proud Bashar and Sayyed Hassan, down israel, down saudi and qatar kingdoms of hatred and backwardness.

    May 4, 2012

  • Hassan Fawaz

    Majd AKA Mohammad Fawaz of Dearborn Michigan, you know actors live in the world of make believe and fantasy but seriously most people are comparing Bashar to Qaddafi and Saddam who murdered their people in the name of Arab nationalism.

    May 4, 2012

  • Sami

    @majd, so now you forget Nasser and you bring up Khaddam and Knaaan?! and now you are saying that the syrian regime can only produce leaders who are criminals and thieves?! you forgot to mention Rifaat who ran away with $4 billion dollars. Fine with me. That's what I wanted to hear from you. Congratulations, you are starting to see the light of day!

    May 3, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @ hasan fawaz, look fellow, i remind you here of what the Egyptian famous actor Nour el Shereef has said lately about Bashar, he explicitly said that he supports Bashar because he reminds him of Jamal abdl Nasser, and also the known nationalist figure in lebanon Selim el Hoss clearly supports Bashar and is attacking the gulf regimes for their bad role in syria. now, to reply to your claim, it is known that Oussama Saad and his party in saida are the most famous Nasserites along with Najah Wakeem, and they both support Bashar , but in case you meant to talk about al Mourabetoon of Kolailat then you missed that those people fell in the trap of Yasser Arafat long time ago and they paid the price. still my friend, the same saudi arabia which used to fight Jamal abdl Nasser in all means is now fighting Bashar al Assad and all those who resist israel, i myself truly don`t mind you stay an ally for saudi, however, it`s an honor and pride for me to be an enemy for the saudi politics.

    May 3, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @sami, your allies never ending friendship with Abdl H Khaddam who was the major decision maker in Lebanon for many years proves that your allies were never against the syrian presence in lebanon, in the contrary they are the most beneficiaries of the syrians in all aspects, they used them and they bribed them in order to control our economy and to make the laws that benefit them, so i really despise those who made large poems for the syrians and later conspired against them. about the shia in bahrain, habibi, i am against all those regimes who are allies of israel and who conspire against our Resistance, i don`t care who is shia and who is not, and democracy is my last obsession simply because there is no true democracy in the world, who owns the money and the media owns the naive people too.

    May 3, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @sami, you are back to your old game of mixing politics with minor details that change nothing in the big picture and truth that your allies wether in the filthy gulf or the imperial west are the allies of israel, and they are fighting israel`s enemies and only israel`s enemies, and even if we believed and still believe that qatar and the likes are filthy puppets of the USA we had no choice but to accept their money which didn`t go to HA pockets, instead the people got the money and it`s not bad to let qatar pay the southerners in order to whiten its black history a little bit and make our people compensate for part of their sufferings. habibi, go preach your future lovers who mastered being puppets and dears and slaves to the syrians and later started cursing them, they gave Ghazi Kenaan the keys of Beirut and they both orchestrated our election law and later claimed they were obliged to obey the syrians, however, their still going friendship with abdl Haleem Khaddam is a clear proof.

    May 3, 2012

  • Hassan Fawaz

    Majd AKA Mohammad Fawaz of Dearborn Michigan forgets that Hafez, Bashar's pappy and Israel's long time protector, made it his buisness to destroy every pro Nasser group or party in Lebanon. I guess living so far away from Lebanon here in Dearboen Michigan makes Majd ignorant of what really happens in Lebanon.

    May 3, 2012

  • Patrick

    Really, someone should explain to the Ali baba government that by the time they make up their minds as to how much 'majless Jounoub' and other such BLACK HOLES will get out of the oil deal, by that time there would be NO oil/gas left. Israel has started licensing, and all oil/gas fields are connected. By the time our Ali babas starts drilling there would be nothing left. Unlike our government's sectarian brains; nature has no boundaries. LOL. I hope they understand my point. But that's asking too much, I guess no one with any insight whatsoever works at the relevant ministries.

    May 3, 2012

  • Sami

    @majd, who is running from the real issues? who is going back 40 years to bring up Nasser and who knows who? I want to beat you by the same stick you want to beat others with. If arabs are filthy, than you and nasrallah are filthy arabs as well. If you accept filth money than you and nasrallah are filthy. You can't sing and dance for the Emir of Qatar and his wife Moza one day and next day come tell us they are traitors, you can't get Izraeli agent Fayez Karam light sentence and celebrate his return with fireworks one day and next day come accuse others of collaborating with israel. You can't sympathize with the demonstrators in Bahrain because they are shias one day and next day come tell us you support the alawaite regime in syria that is massacring sunnis by the thousands. Your nasrallah has become despised all over the world. His face has become the symbol of the great satan!

    May 3, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @sami, ya sami, everytime you run out of any answer to me you pick up your safety belt which is Emir qatar and Moza and the money they paid in the south! habibi, when i talk to you politics try to reply politics, those filthy arabs you mentioned who paid to rebuild the south did so in order to cover their treason which was open and explicit when they supported the israeli attack against Lebanon, and no matter what they pay and do it seems traitors are traitors, and again, the same people and states who fought fiercely against Jamal abdul Nasser are now fighting against Bashar and Sayyed Hassan, why are you so unable to reply ya sami?! or Abdul Nasser doesn`t mean anything to you and your likes any more? or he has never meant anything? stay with the saudis as much as you want, you are doomed to fail and get disappointed, do you know why? because they are the most backward states on earth despite all the fortune they run, i talk to you about israel and the west domination you reply Moza.

    May 2, 2012

  • Wardeh Fawaz

    I like when Majd AKA Mohammad Fawaz of Dearborn Michigan sounds like a hysterical NeoCon commentator.

    May 2, 2012

  • Sami

    @majd, if there is a fitna you are it! you and hasan nasrallah. You and your family sang and danced for the Emir of Qatar and his wife Moza when they they visited you in the south and gave you money. You also accepted money from saudis and kuwaitis and emaratis to rebuild after the war and to get Lebanon back on its feets after your stupid war with Israel. that was not fitna money??!!!. any money that goes to help sunnis is fitna money?! but money that goes to help shias is not fitna money?!! you've become so exposed with your filthy sectarian bias, you have no place to hide except in Dearborn where you pay your taxes to uncle Sam and fill up your car with gas from one of Nabih Birri's gass stations. Helping the Israeli Fayes Karam get light sentence is the fitna. Standing with the Alawite regime in Syria is the Fitna.

    May 2, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @the truth, look fellow, wherever you see a fitna and an inter arab war and arab civil war you must look for the saudi wahhabism, simply because those saudis don`t invest their money except in inter arab struggles and division ever since Jamal abdul Nasser era, whenever a patriotic Arab leader emerges the saudi rush to invest their money and hatred to fight him, the same happened with Nasser and the same is happeneing now with Bashar and Sayyed Hassan, the saudis pay their dirty money to send weapons ships and terrorists to syria but they make pressures in order to prevent any money or weapons from reaching the Palestinian resistance for example, that is pure Wahhabism, to divide and weaken any arab patriotism or Resistance and to incite sectarianism all over the arab world, do you see anything else happening?!!

    May 1, 2012

  • Sami

    @karim, next time stick to the subject matter. I believe that by the time we get the oil and gaz out in commercial quatities, the world would have moved on to other forms of energy and what we discover would be obsolete! what we need is to get ourselves connected thru pipelines from the gulf states. Unfortunately, our big sister to the east has prevented us from doing so so far. It shows their big love for us - as we say in arabic "wmina al7oubi ma katal!".

    May 1, 2012

  • The Truth

    @karim: What does this article have to do with Wahabism? You're a clown employing labels and scare tactics to scare people or you're dumb enough to believe the BS of the Assad regime and its puppet general (Aoun).

    May 1, 2012

  • Nabil Ghandour

    Nice shot of bassil. I guess he can laugh all the way to the bank, he can afford to, his newly-formed fortune speaks for itself.

    April 30, 2012

  • Karim

    Wow, it must be promote Wahabi week again. NowLebanon is nothing but propoganda journalism employed by (...) Saudi Arabian embassy to promote Wahabism and destroy Lebanon's democracy. (...)

    April 30, 2012

  • abou 3adas

    Out of its depth, the favorite son in law would drown on dry land while sitting in a lifeboat!

    April 30, 2012