Crisis in Lebanon: French envoy leaves Beirut empty-handed


French special envoy to Lebanon, Jean-Yves Le Drian, left Beirut on Thursday without having been able to convince the political parties to agree on electing a president.

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense, who met the main political actors including the powerful pro-Iranian Hezbollah, "did not make a major breakthrough", a French diplomatic source told AFP in Beirut .

"Each party is clinging to its position," continued the source. Le Drian warned the officials he met that "the very existence of political Lebanon is in danger", the source added.

Since the end of President Michel Aoun's mandate in October 2022, Parliament has been unable to elect a successor, with both Hezbollah and its opponents not having the required majority to elect a candidate.

The deadlock comes as the country is plunged into a deep economic crisis, and the war in Gaza triggering violence between Hezbollah and the Israeli army in the south.

Le Drian "underlined to his interlocutors the dangers of prolonging the deadlock" in this explosive regional context, according to the source.

In Paris, Christophe Lemoine, deputy spokesperson for the Quai d'Orsay, indicated that French Minister Stéphane Séjourné had spoken on Wednesday with his Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib.

Séjourné "recalled France's commitment to supporting the sovereignty and stability of Lebanon" and "recalled the efforts led by France to contribute to de-escalation, in particular through consultations between all parties in favor of a diplomatic solution."

Séjourné and his Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib also discussed Le Drian's visit and the urgent need to find a way out of the institutional crisis, to elect a President and to form a government capable of responding to the expectations and needs of the Lebanese.

Asked about a French proposal made to Israel and Lebanon to de-escalate the tensions at the border, Christophe Lemoine said the Lebanese response was "rather favorable" but Israel had still not not officially responded to the proposal.

France has been trying since the end of January to contain the violence on the border between Israel and Lebanon, and submitted to both parties a first initiative, amended at the beginning of May at the request of Beirut which considered the first version too favorable to Israel.

The plan proposes an end to violence on both sides and the withdrawal of Hezbollah's elite unit al-Radwan forces and other armed groups ten kilometers from the border with Israel, according to Lebanese officials.

It stipulates that the United Nations Interim Force (UNIFIL) has complete freedom of movement in the region, that the Lebanese army plays an increased role there and that its troops must be reinforced.

Le Drian's mission to Lebanon this week also aimed to "prepare the visit of American President Joe Biden to France, during which the Lebanese issue could be discussed", according to the diplomatic source.

Biden is expected in France on June 6 for the celebrations of the 80th anniversary of the landing of allied troops in Normandy.

Comments 1
Missing rabiosa 31 May 2024, 18:07

Good. These Frenchies are being kicked out and laughed out every where they go. Only if we can do what Mali, Burkina Faso did and ask them to close down their embassy and remove all personnel and get the F out. Useless.

What exactly was he thinking was gonna happen. You are part as to why we are here because of your cuddling of the Mullahs in tehran for your interest, but screw the interest of Lebanon.

I've said million times, the only solution for Lebanon, is the downfall of the regime in Tehran or a complete and total economic squeeze done by the international community. Full stop. End of story.