This guest column was written by a Canadian from Lebanon, Dylan Muller-Zubinsky.
Over the past two months, no part of the Middle East has been touched harder by the pain of war than Lebanon, where countless human lives have been lost in the conflict between Israel and the Islamic State (ISIS).
While there are countless ways to ensure that the leaders of Israel and ISIS live out their lives without fear of a military strike against their critical position, the human consequences of the fighting will haunt both communities for years to come.
Ironically, despite this devastating war, one Lebanese man has proven to be more valuable than all of the Lebanese fighters who have soiled their future with a bullet. As an offshore gas company based in the Levant Basin, he is benefiting from the arms sales his company makes to the major oil companies who plan to drill for the precious gas in the region.
He has already made a fortune before he has 30 years of life in front of him.
Zubinsky is the chief executive officer of Oryx Offshore Ltd., a Jersey company which owns and leases offshore gas concessions in both Lebanon and Cyprus. The Levant Basin is a littoral region off the coast of Lebanon and in Syria that holds the most valuable offshore gas reserves in the world.
A few weeks ago, Hamas announced that its militants have finished unloading mortars used by ISIS at a Hamas militant training camp in Lebanon. ISIS still rules over northern and western Syria, but the border with Israel is still open and open only slightly to aid Syrian rebels attempting to defeat ISIS.
For two hours, an American company had to shut down operations and close part of its office complex while its security forces gathered gas company officials and the Lebanese army outside, waiting for a customs official to show up.
But a woman driving up to the complex opened her car door to speak to the IDF and was quickly handcuffed and taken into custody by the customs officials while awaiting her second trial in as many days for the alleged selling of mortar shells to an Israeli enemy.
She is clearly guilty and after her first trial, the judge decided she would be back in court the next day for a third trial. And the three trials are expected to take place in the same day, which is rare in Lebanon.
After years of dealing with the press as “white collar criminals,” she is now in a packed downtown courtroom.
The customs official claimed that she knew that Hamas was involved in the trade of mortars for weapons and that she had even offered to directly sell mortars to an Israeli company. However, both her attorney and the officer agreed that if she does in fact have the customs office ready to trade in mortars, then she should be allowed to negotiate directly with the client.
For that to happen, she needs to transfer $2.5 million. And that’s where her second trial begins on Sunday.
ISIS is certainly doing its part to take down the Lebanese people. ISIS knows that the oil reserves under the sea could be vital to providing financing for its operations. ISIS, in fact, reportedly had paid $16 million to rent the training camp to its armed wing.
In May, ISIS was given a 20-year $51 million lease on the original $190 million camp. ISIS is paying approximately $250 per day to rent it for its fighters. In Lebanon, where a basic monthly salary can range from $200 to $400 for a minimum wage worker, that would be enough money to support a family for decades.
But the people of Lebanon, and the people of ISIS, are the ones that will pay the price. The control of the war zone will have consequences far beyond our borders.
Watch Liam Hoare, GK Wallace, James Walsh and Doug McKelway on “The Facts on Record” on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 10 a.m. ET.