| 1 December 2023, Friday |

Can a president be elected amid delay in American negotiations with Iran?

What is the fate of American negotiations with Iran regarding the nuclear program? Will the Lebanese dossier continue to wait for a long time, connected to the ramifications of these negotiations, as it doesn’t hold a significant focus from Washington, while Iran, at the same time, doesn’t attach importance to it and leaves decisions to “Hezbollah,” because it doesn’t want Lebanon’s engagement with the French?

Prominent Western diplomatic sources informed “Sawt Beirut International” that the US administration has suspended the financial authorization of its special envoy for Iranian affairs, Rob Malley, and granted him unpaid leave for the completion of the investigation against him. There are multiple questions posed by Congress to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the details of his access to the administration’s data and its leakage, as well as the timing of his suspension from duty, and the specific subject of that breach. He has been denied access to the top floor in the Foreign Ministry building, where the offices of ambassadors and senior officials are located, as well as the timing of his access to information within the ministry.
His deputy, Abraham Balli, has taken over his duties, but Congress questions the administration about how he assumed this role with such precision. It is expected that he undergoes a congressional hearing, as there is a time limit and he cannot assume his duties without congressional approval.

The sources mentioned that Congress has frozen several approvals for appointments of senior officials, including ambassadors abroad and important security personnel.

Due to awaiting congressional approval, numerous political files will remain frozen or unresolved. Among them are the nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran. This, in turn, will impact all the issues directly or indirectly related to the nuclear negotiations, including Lebanon’s affairs and the final settlements in the region.
Hence, Western sources are certain that Lebanon will not have a president in the near future. Within the administration, there is talk about the Americans leaning towards supporting the army commander, Joseph Aoun. However, the question remains as to what extent they are prepared for exceptions. On the other hand, have the Shiite duo in Lebanon begun to realize the necessity of changing their candidate and moving towards a compromise third candidate? What are the chances of consensus between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Shiite duo? The situation is still in a deadlock.

Within the American administration, there are two opinions that have not been definitively decided upon yet. The first one advocates for electing a president regardless of his background. The second opinion emphasizes the necessity of electing a sovereign president, which contradicts the French position. According to this view, the French proposals are considered unproductive, and there is no American-French understanding on their initiatives, nor agreement on how to approach the presidential issue. Sources indicate that the American priority lies with Russia and China, and Lebanon is not a priority at all until further notice.
It’s worth mentioning that there is an American maneuver concerning the Iranian dossier. The US administration has struggled to comprehend Mali’s behavior, which indicates an openness to Islamists in the Middle East, despite his Syrian roots even if his father was Jewish. However, his inclination towards Islam and leaking of information led to his exclusion. This exclusion has repercussions on anything related to the American-Iranian negotiations. Currently, everyone is awaiting the Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress to vote on his successor.

  • Sawt Beirut International