According to French and Lebanese media, the mission of Le Drian, who has extensive experience in crisis management and is familiar with the tensions between the parties in the Arab country, is to find a consensual and effective solution to the worsening of the crisis since the explosion of the port of Beirut in August 2020.
Experts tell ‘Sky News Arabia’ that the appointment bears several indications and motives, including Paris’ interest in resolving the crisis in return for playing a major role in Lebanon’s internal arena, and a French declaration of failure of the previous initiative led by the French envoy, Patrick Dorrell, to appoint Suleiman Franjieh as president, and to ensure the continuation of the work of the French company Total in Beirut after the demarcation of the maritime borders with Israel.
According to observers, Le Drian’s task will not be easy, and he will focus on two options: either convince “Hezbollah” and the “Amal Movement” not to obstruct the accession of former minister Jihad Azour to the presidency, or opt for a third alternative to be agreed.
Reasons for the French statement
Macron’s decision comes after opposition forces and the “Free Patriotic Movement” crossed paths with the nomination of an International Monetary Fund official, Jihad Azour, for the presidency, in a bid to overthrow the leader of the “Free Movement”. Marada” Suleiman Franjieh, whose candidacy is supported by Paris, which challenges the latter, candidate of Hezbollah, according to Reuters.
This also came in light of the fact that Lebanon entered a suffocating and intertwined political crisis months ago, and a vacuum in the position of the President of the Republic, the Lebanese parliament having failed to elect a president for the country during 11 sessions, due to a division between the “Hezbollah” team and its opponents.
Consequently, the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, last Monday called for a new voting session to elect the President next Wednesday.
According to French and Lebanese sources, to Sky News Arabia, the appointment of Le Drian, a veteran politician, came:
For his knowledge of the complex situation in Lebanon. His complex Arab and American relations qualify him to deal with all international and local parties in order to reach agreements to elect the president. This appointment amounts to announcing the failure of the adoption of Franjieh’s candidacy for the Lebanese presidency. It came after Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi and Macron met recently, where there is a Christian consensus that rejects the French alignment behind the Hezbollah candidate.
What are France’s motives and objectives?
The country, where more than 80% of its population lives below the poverty line, has been experiencing an economic collapse since 2019, which the World Bank has ranked among the worst in the world, as Washington considers imposing sanctions on those who obstruct the election of the president, according to Reuters.
According to French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna on Thursday, France:
She has no presidential candidate. What counts for Paris is that Lebanon has a president. Le Drian will work to speed up the process of electing the president. We are concerned about the consequences of the failure to reform the economy and its negative repercussions on the Lebanese poor and the middle class.
According to the Lebanese expert specializing in international affairs, Habib Al-Raz, Macron wants, behind Le Drian’s candidacy, to ensure the security of the UNIFIL forces and the French battalion.
Macron believes that the rapprochement with Hezbollah guarantees the security of his battalion. Ensure the continuity of the French company Total in its activities after the demarcation of the borders between Lebanon and Israel. In search of a new role and that Paris be the godfather of any future rapprochement between the Lebanese. The move reflects France’s apprehension of losing its role after its relations with Christian forces became strained in exchange for a deal with Hezbollah.
The most important indications behind the appointment of Le Drian:
According to French journalist Christian Shen, to Sky News Arabia, the French approach:
A fundamental change in the policy of the Elysée with regard to the presidential dossier in Lebanon. It reflects Macron’s response to urgent demands from the Vatican, the sponsor, and several Lebanese forces, to change the status of the former France team. The decision means ending the job of the French envoy, Patrick Dorrell, who assumed the colony of Franjieh as president in return for appointing Nawaf Salam as prime minister. The French decision opens the door to new understandings between political opponents inside Lebanon. This means that France is interested in participating again, but despite Le Drian’s knowledge of the Lebanese situation, his task is difficult.
Hindering the selection of the Lebanese president
Political analyst Wajdi Al-Aridi said there are several indicators behind this appointment:
A reshuffle of the French newspapers, which is the desire of the shepherd, which appeared to the public after the decision of Le Drian. What’s going on inside is settling scores and revenge, and no one wants a president
And about next Wednesday’s session, he adds in press releases: “Obstruction is in control, and the session is stillborn. The third option resolves disputes is the appointment of army commander Joseph Aoun.
As for the leader of the Nahj movement, Hassan Yaqoub, he wrote on social media, saying that Le Drian’s mission “reflects a new French approach and an approach to the presidential file in Lebanon”.
He pointed out that “Le Drian is managing French foreign policy in coordination with the Americans, and that means moving away from supporting Suleiman Franjieh for the presidency.”
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