Syria’s electricity minister said his government has started repairing a power line to Jordan as the kingdom takes political and economic steps to welcome President Bashar Al Assad.
Jordan has sought to strengthen its regional role since a US administration seen as friendlier to the kingdom replaced Donald Trump in January.
Amman has made the normalization of ties with Damascus a central part of its foreign policy in recent months.
He offered to help solve power shortages in Lebanon by supplying the country with energy through areas of the Syrian regime.
“We have started the works and completed a good part of this line,” Syrian Minister of Electricity Ghassan Al Zamel said in Amman.
He did not say when the line could be operational.
For electricity to flow from Jordan to Lebanon, an old, largely disused high-voltage grid built during Syria’s dependence on the former Soviet Union would need to be repaired, Jordanian engineers say and Syrians.
The network was further damaged during the Syrian civil war.
Speaking after a meeting in Amman with Jordanian and Lebanese ministers, Al Zamel said repairs began two months ago but “some obstacles” remain.
The ministers also discussed energy proposals launched by Jordan over the past two months, which involve supplying Lebanon with Egyptian gas and Jordanian electricity.
Beirut hopes that the World Bank will finance the necessary infrastructure works. There is no indication as to who would foot the bill for the purchase of electricity or gas.
The Lebanese government defaulted on its debt in March 2020, accelerating the collapse of the country’s economy.
It has also worsened the power cuts that have been a part of life in Lebanon since the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990.
Jordan has traditionally had little engagement with Lebanon.
Unlike other countries in the region, the kingdom has avoided getting involved in Lebanese politics, although Jordanian officials privately view Hezbollah as a threat to regional stability.
But Jordan sought this year to expand an intermediary role that had primarily focused on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
In 2018, Jordan reopened its main crossing point with Syria, and last month Amman agreed with the Syrian regime to ease some border restrictions in hopes of boosting trade.
After meeting his Syrian counterpart on September 22, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi expected Jordan’s electricity proposals to fail to meet US objections.
Mr. Al Safadi said The National he was convinced that Washington would grant the necessary waivers to the sanctions imposed against the Assad regime.
The sanctions had complicated an announcement by the Jordanian government last month that the Royal Jordanian flag-bearer would resume in Damascus on October 3, after a nine-year hiatus.
Flights have not resumed and airline sources in contact with Royal Jordanian have said the airline has no plans to resume flights.
Their resumption would require waivers of US sanctions against the Syrian regime so as not to risk breaking US law.
But high-level diplomatic and military meetings between Jordanian and Syrian officials have taken place since King Abdullah met President Vladimir Putin in Russia in late August.
European diplomats in Amman said Russia renewed six-year diplomatic pressure on Jordan and other countries in the region to normalize relations with President Assad’s regime.
In 2010, the last year before the Syrian uprising and subsequent civil war, World Bank figures show Syria exported $ 406 million in goods to Jordan. Jordanian exports to Syria amounted to $ 256 million.
This represented three percent of total Syrian exports and four percent of total Jordanian exports.
As the Jordanian economy is in recession and the unemployment rate hits a record 24%, Jordanian officials have privately presented the measures taken by the kingdom in pragmatic terms, saying the economy stands to gain from strengthening. links with the Damascus regime.
Updated: October 6, 2021, 6:06 PM