On Wednesday, May 27th, the Lebanese Army issued a statement saying that a military unit found and dismantled 30 meters of pipes used to smuggle diesel into Syria.
The pipelines were confiscated at the Lebanese-Syrian border in north Lebanon at the border village of Al-Buqei’a (also called Petroleum line) in Akkar.
According to the statement, army units are making continuous efforts to combat smuggling at the Lebanese-Syrian borders, a situation that has been out of control for a while now, badly impacting the Lebanese economy.
قامت وحدة من الجيش بإزالة أنابيب تستخدم لتهريب مادة المازوت عند الحدود اللبنانية السورية الشمالية في منطقة البقيعة – خط البترول، وقد تمّت مصادرة حوالى ٣٠ متراً من الأنابيب داخل الأراضي اللبنانية.#الجيش_اللبناني #LebaneseArmyhttps://t.co/d3fBCNOIjQ— الجيش اللبناني (@LebarmyOfficial) May 27, 2020
According to Middle East Online, Lebanon is “getting tougher on smuggling into Syria” as the government has ordered last Thursday the seizing of all goods that are illegally entering or leaving Lebanon at the border with Syria.
Since the collapse of the currency in both countries, there have been active operations of smuggling Diesel as well as flour and other subsidized essentials into Syria.
A resident at the border explained to Arab News that “The price of a liter of diesel in Syria is equivalent to LBP 70,000, while the price of a liter of diesel in Lebanon is LBP 10,000. Smuggling this item brings profits to Lebanese and Syrian smugglers.”
And Lebanon has been suffering greatly from it at a time when the financial hardships are weighing heavier and heavier on the Lebanese people.
Lebanon spends billions of dollars on subsidies on essentials such as fuel and flour to ease the economic hardship on the Lebanese people; subsidized goods that smugglers sell in Syria at a substantial price.
According to Arab News, George Brax, a member of Syndicate of Owners of Petrol Stations, stated that “the value of the smuggled hydrocarbons is over $400 million annually, and this figure may constitute half of the truth.”
It comes as a renewed hope among the Lebanese people that the Lebanese army is now cracking down on the smuggling operations.
Earlier this month, the army seized about 215,000 liters of fuel oil and 71 tonnes of flour between May 7th and 14th, at the Lebanese-Syrian border, and arrested 25 people; according to Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad.
Orders have been issued for the army and the internal security forces to also confiscate vehicles used by smugglers.