Masdardiplomacy : Lebanon’s General Security Chief: I support absolute open borders with Syria by Radwan Mortada

Lebanese General Security Chief Abbas Ibrahim has become a key negotiator between foreign and domestic parties in the crisis-hit country. While the Lebanese worry about the American threat of sanctions, Ibrahim tells The Cradle it is “totally unlikely” that the US will sanction Lebanon

In an exclusive interview with The Cradle, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, Director General of the Lebanese Directorate of General Security, reveals the behind-the-scenes decision to send an official Lebanese delegation to negotiate with Syria on importing Egyptian gas and Jordanian electricity

The security chief, known for his contacts with all domestic parties and foreign players – which has catapulted his profile as a valuable regional mediator – discusses his position on opening Lebanon’s border with Syria and his relationship with Major General Ali Mamlouk, head of the Syrian National Security Bureau

Ibrahim also replays his conversation with an anti-Hezbollah, Western security attaché in Beirut about the controversial import of Iranian fuel. The influential foreign envoy, who lobbied against allowing Iran and its allies to break the western embargo on Lebanon, admitted to Ibrahim: ‘If I were Lebanese in this situation, I would have stood on the coastline and waved in the Iranian oil ship to speed up its arrival

The following is the interview with Abbas Ibrahim, translated from Arabic

The Cradle: There is a kind of American hegemony over all Lebanese decisions. What if Lebanon is placed under US sanctions? Wouldn’t that free Lebanon in a sense – by giving it the ability to make choices and decisions on its own? Especially in heading East

Ibrahim: I don’t think Lebanon will be put on the sanctions list. This is totally unlikely. Lebanon is a vital and essential country in the region, despite its small size. And strategically, it is very important to America and the West. Lebanon’s importance lies in its proximity to and border with occupied Palestine and so-called Israel

From this standpoint, I do not think that Lebanon as a country is threatened by sanctions. If any other country had half of the scene taking place in Lebanon, it would certainly have been placed on the sanctions list. As for the question of looking eastward, I am pleased to inform you that we are with any direction – whether East or West. The important thing is what is in the interest of Lebanon, that it brings good for the people of this country, and improves their living conditions

The Cradle: Do you think that Hezbollah’s continued import of oil from Iran may lead to American pressure and the threat of sanctions that may affect the beneficiaries of this oil 

Ibrahim: Hezbollah announced that the Amanah Foundation will handle the distribution of oil, knowing that it is on the sanctions list. I do not think that an American decision – or any decision from anywhere – can be taken that could affect the Lebanese people directly or painfully at this point. I will disclose to you a conversation with a Western security attaché who visited me in my office recently. His visit coincided with the start of public discussions about the prospect of the Iranian fuel ships. On that day, I asked him: If you were in the place of the Lebanese people and a boat carrying gasoline or diesel came to help you, what would you do? The security attaché replied by saying: I would wave to them on the beach urging them to hurry up. This man, paradoxically, is an absolute Westerner and hostile to Hezbollah. If any measures are taken that would compound the crisis, it would pose a challenge to all the Lebanese people, not just to Hezbollah. It would directly affect the livelihood of the Lebanese people and, therefore, be counterproductive for anyone to oppose this fuel. READ MORE