In March 2021, Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, experienced a city-wide blackout leaving the residents without power. (Hassan Ammar / AP)
By Jack Davis October 10, 2021 at 8:39am
Lebanon’s national energy grid failed completely on Saturday, plunging the entire nation into darkness.
Private generators, which many cannot afford, are expected to be the only source of electricity for several days, according to The Washington Post.
The country’s generators run on diesel fuel. When the nation’s two main power plants, Deir Ammar and Zahrani, ran out of fuel, they were forced to shut down.
In a metaphor for the country itself, the state-owned electricity company had been teetering closer and closer to total collapse in recent weeks.
BEIRUT: What full collapse of the national Electricity grid looks like. #Lebanon’s capital, once dubbed ‘Swiss of the East’, goes completely dark tonight due to corrupt political class & fuel shortages: pic.twitter.com/9FKGD7oij4
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) October 9, 2021
Prior to Saturday’s total shutdown, the company had provided power for only a few hours per day, according to the Post.
The government is now trying to obtain fuel.
Should the U.S. get involved to help Lebanon?
“The Lebanese power network completely stopped working at noon today, and it is unlikely that it will work until next Monday, or for several days,” Reuters quoted an unnamed government official.
Lebanon has cut a deal with Iraq to import 80,000 tons of fuel a month, but that will only support power for about four hours a day, according to Energy Minister Walid Fayyad, the Post reported.
“It is drastic, and it has been drastic for a while,” he said.
Lebanon is in total blackout w/o power, expected to last several days. They don’t have the fuel needed to run their power plants. 6 million ppl here, w/ 78% in poverty. pic.twitter.com/5kPoOC4r2d
— 🇺🇸ProudArmyBrat (@leslibless) October 9, 2021
“With a few hours a day, people can go about their basic needs for a couple of hours, and of course it is better than nothing, but the situation is dire, and we need more than a few hours a day,” he said.
Lebanon has been drifting deeper into failure since its banking system collapsed in 2019, making its currency all but worthless.
Last month, a crisis was averted when the terrorist group Hezbollah brought fuel into Lebanon from Syria, according to The New York Times.
Hezbollah is growing stronger as it delivers what the government cannot.
“This feeds into the image that Hezbollah has won the battle of perseverance against the U.S. siege, and that kind of image is what the organization is trying to reflect,” said Mohanad Hage Ali of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, according to the Times.
Fayyad said Lebanon hopes to import natural gas from Egypt and electricity from Jordan and Syria, but noted that it could be months before the deal is finalized, the Post reported.