The reasons for the failure of the French initiative in Lebanon … and the future stakes

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Michel Abu Negm wrote in Asharq Al-Awsat: A former French ambassador familiar with the secrets of his country’s diplomacy believes that the first mistake Paris made is that President Macron, who was the first to rush to Beirut just two days after the port bombing on August 4, He did not take advantage of the available and exceptional opportunity to impose the implementation of his vision, taking advantage of the fact that the political class, including the presidency, the government and the parties, is severely weak and unable to resist pressures.

The second mistake is that Paris provided the necessary time for politicians who had indirectly rehabilitated them by making salvation through them, to catch their breath, ignoring that they had a superior ability to “absorb shocks and crises.” The third mistake is that the French president stressed the “incentives” he offered to the state and politicians, such as calling for an international conference to help Lebanon, standing by it in the negotiation process with the International Monetary Fund, rebuilding what was destroyed by the explosions, providing humanitarian aid and other means of “seduction.” The situation is that, on the one hand, it was not sufficient to convince them to accept it and proceed with his rescue plan. On the other hand, Macron hinted at taking coercive and draconian measures “that is, penalties” against the defendants and the unemployed, but without highlighting the type and seriousness of the punishments. In other words, the former ambassador adds, the politicians saw that the “stave” he waved “was neither sufficiently visible nor rugged to the extent that it harms their basic interests and pushes them to review their accounts.” In sum, the threat of sanctions was not and will not be a “deterrent”. Explicitly disclosing it, about the parties that affect it, and the additional measures that Paris can take, either individually or collectively.

There is a main point that the aforementioned source stresses, which is how to deal with Hezbollah, which Paris considers the “most difficult link” because of its ability to influence the domestic political scene and because of its external links, especially with Iran. According to this ambassador, the French diplomacy, which maintained a relationship with the party, could have pushed it to cooperate by hinting at the possibility of emulating the European parties, such as Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and others, which placed it on the list of terrorist organizations, both military and political. In fact, Paris has always opposed this approach from the standpoint that it is a political party that has a presence in Parliament and must work with it. Therefore, it seems clear that Paris did not take into “sufficiently” the complexities of the Lebanese political scene, as its politicians inserted them into the quota, names, portfolios, sects’ rights, doctrines, formulas, and personal sensitivities among the major players. On the other hand, it was unable to provide Arab and regional cover And the international community that would “facilitate” its rescue mission, even though it was the only one that moved intensively to bring about tangible and rapid change. And the conviction that prevailed at one time that Paris was able alone to bring about the required change without providing the necessary “tools” was one of the reasons that led to its initiative reaching a dead end.

Despite the above, Paris says that its initiative is still valid and that “it did not fail, but it is the Lebanese who failed.” It seems that it wants to compensate for its previous deficiencies by “thickening” the stick with which Le Drian threatened the obstructors and the corrupt.

Source: Middle East





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