Although more than five months have passed since the disaster of the Beirut Port explosion, the party that will rebuild it has not yet been decided, in light of the intensification of “geopolitical competition” between countries that want to obtain the privilege of managing and rebuilding it. However, what is remarkable in this regard is a study presented by the World Bank under the title “Repair and Reconstruction of Ports in Lebanon: Lessons Learned from International Practices,” in which it is proposed to develop the Port of Beirut in accordance with the principle of partnership with the private sector, in what is referred to as “the port of the owner”. An attempt by him to distinguish between the comprehensive control of the public sector that has continued over the past years, and the “privatization” by fully entrusting it to a private sector company, as the French administration wishes, based on President Emmanuel Macron’s interests in Lebanon’s political and economic future, and France’s “strategic” role in the East Middle.
Taking into consideration the great damage caused by the explosion, the port is currently operating at about 70% of its capacity, and it represents the container terminal, which remained intact and 100% active. A Lebanese engineering company is developing a plan to restore the port’s work to its full capacity, and expand the possibility of benefiting from additional areas, in preparation for defining how to manage and invest it, whether from the public sector, in partnership with the private sector, or by full “privatization”, in light of regional and international transformations, which focus Its interest is also in the port of Tripoli in the north, which is linked to foreign trade lines through Syria to the countries of the region, as well as the port of Zahrani in the south, which is linked to trade lines with Syria and Jordan. Therefore, the World Bank is looking forward to the development project to include Lebanon’s ports on the Mediterranean.
It is noted that French companies are the most enthusiastic about investing in Lebanese ports. In addition to the French company for container and freight transport (CMA-CGM), which announced its desire to invest in the port of Beirut, the “Resi Group” has signed an agreement with Lebanon to study how to deal with Backfill and debris and recycling them for later use in the expected construction. The French international company, Sea Magum, decided to approve the port of Tripoli as its main station in the eastern Mediterranean, as of next February.
On the other hand, Chinese companies seek to take an investment share in the port of Beirut, and are looking forward to the prospects of cooperation in the port of Tripoli and its development, to be a starting point to contribute to the implementation of the reconstruction projects in Syria.
Naturally, the intersection of interests requires “geopolitical alliances.” And if China is betting on its cooperation with Iran in various and varied projects, and its alliance with Russia in light of the implementation of large investment contracts for Russian companies in the operation of the port of Tartus in Syria, and the oil products terminal in the Lebanese port of Tripoli, France depends on strengthening its political influence and implementing its investment projects with the participation of Some European countries are in full coordination with the United States of America, although there is some difference in views, as the United States ’view of Lebanon and its role differs from that of the French. The Americans see Lebanon from the angle of their broad view of the map of the Middle East. And he has to perform the job imposed by geopolitical reality. As for the French, their outlook is not that broad, and what matters to them is that Lebanon remains stable and a gateway to their political presence, economic interests and cultural heritage, to the Arab world.
* A Lebanese writer specializing in economic affairs.