If Lebanon hopes to leverage the true potential of the undiscovered natural gas reserves in its Eastern Mediterranean waters, then time is of the essence for it to settle the legal, political, and financial issues which have already begun to cloud one of the most promising stories to emerge from the country in recent years. And the U.S.
As violence in neighboring Syria escalates, many observers are left wondering whether Syria will put to effect its threat to use chemical weapons, and further to that, whether those weapons will find their ways to its allies. This week, the Syrian rebels reported that chemical weapons had in fact been moved to the Syrian borders in an effort to threaten the international community.
The discovery of oil and gas reserves off the Mediterranean shore may prove to be more of a curse than a blessing for warring neighbors Israel and Lebanon. Exploration has not started in the two major reserve sites, which were discovered in 2009, but disagreement over the delineation of their maritime borders has sparked a new regional conflict.
As Palestinian refugees and Syrians marched towards the Israeli border at the Golan Heights, marking the 1967 Naksa Day, the Lebanese border nearby witnessed an odd calm. Commemorating the 1948 Nakba Day last month, Palestinian refugees walking peacefully towards the border were shot by Israeli soldiers. Many believe that the Syrian regime was behind the protests.
Instability in neighboring Syria and the ongoing political vacuum in Lebanon are contributing to a drastic deterioration in the country's security situation.
Last Sunday's commemoration of the Day of the Nakba, denoting the uprooting of Palestinians from Israel, turned bloody in South Lebanon.
"If there is no stability here [in Syria], there's no way there will be stability in Israel", Rami Makhlouf, President Assad's cousin, the regime's businessman and a lightning rod for Syrian protestors, told the New York Times this week. He did not try to embellish or deny this seeming threat.
The uprising sweeping Syria continues to grow despite the brutal crackdown against peaceful protests. With the killing of Osama Bin Laden momentarily eclipsing the turmoil there, the protesters seem, at present, to be standing alone in their fight for democracy and liberty.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal that his regime will not suffer the same fate as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak because "Syria has no ties with Israel." This claim deserves a careful reading, especially as it relates to U.S.