The French initiative’s momentum slowed down despite the changes made in order to ensure the success of French President Emmanuel Macron’s vision to support the choice of the dual candidate, “Amal Movement” and “Hezbollah,” former minister Suleiman Frangieh. This followed the recent visit of the presidential envoy, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who was relied on his dynamism and expertise in this matter, expecting to be well-versed in its intricacies. However, the envoy’s efforts did not yield the desired results, as Macron’s attempt failed, and abandoned France’s historical affinity for the Lebanese Maronites. This shift marked a pivotal moment in Lebanon’s history in general and the Christians’ history in particular, as they rebelled against someone who was known as the “affectionate mother” and stood against her attempts to impose her interests and economic ambitions.
According to an opposing source, Jean-Yves Le Drian’s recent visit to Lebanon marked the first public setback for the French initiative. The envoy’s importance was evident in his ability to maneuver angles and come up with solutions that could have helped remove certain obstacles in Macron’s initiative. However, at the end of his visit, he realized that the current phase is different from previous ones, and France no longer has the same power or influence over the sovereign and, in particular, the Christian side. The source observed that the French administration has changed its approach due to several factors, including the absence of “Gaullists” from the forefront and the chaos resulting from harsh economic conditions exacerbated by the Russo-Ukrainian war.
The second setback that affected the French initiative occurred during the Quadrilateral Meeting in Qatar. Several initiatives were launched during this meeting to initiate dialogues and negotiations with external parties associated with resistance factions, particularly Iran. As a result, France lost its unilateral decision-making power concerning the enforcement of its initiative through various scenarios. The complexity of the situation is not solely related to ending the presidential vacuum but also hinges on the president’s agenda, which should assert sovereignty independently from the control of the resistance axis and continue the path of former President Michel Aoun.
The source concludes by suggesting that relying on the outcomes of the Quadrilateral Meeting requires patience, which the Lebanese people must endure until the very last moment. However, they are aware that producing a president through local fabrication, as done in previous stages, is not available. Especially considering that the dual candidate remains committed to Suleiman Frangieh’s candidacy and will not abandon it unless his position is secured.
As the situation waits for September’s solutions, caution will prevail among all parties. This will be accompanied by a calm consolidation of potential and possible candidates, as well as an easing of the financial and economic situation during the presidential vacuum. All sides will be observing the interactions with the initiatives of the Quadrilateral Meeting and the French position regarding its withdrawal from the French-Salameh dual initiative. It is clear that Macron’s administration realized that its attempts to push the parties towards dialogue have been rejected by the opposition team and are futile.
This necessitates a period of calm, waiting for signals that will be sent in response to the movements of the five parties involved.