| 30 November 2023, Thursday |

What is France discussing with Iran behind scenes?

Prominent Arab diplomatic sources do not consider that there is a predetermined phase for Lebanon, nor do they deal with its file on such a basis. However, there are ongoing efforts from all member states of the Quintet Committee on Lebanon, particularly from France and Qatar.
Sources reveal to “Sawt Beirut International” that the Qatari invitation for the Quintet Committee meeting has indeed been issued. The committee will convene in Doha on the 17th of July, which is next Monday, unless there are unforeseen developments on the French side, in which case the meeting may be postponed for a few days. It is likely that the meeting will be held at the expert level rather than at the level of foreign ministers, unless significant matters arise that necessitate the participation of foreign ministers.
Furthermore, the committee will convene with all its members only, and there are no indications of Iran being invited to participate in the meeting. However, sources suggest the possibility of behind-the-scenes French-Iranian contacts aimed at facilitating Tehran’s role in the election of a new president for Lebanon. This is particularly relevant as Iran has stated that it does not interfere in Lebanon’s internal affairs and that the Lebanese matter should be resolved through understanding among the Lebanese themselves. France recognizes the political implications of this stance, and it acknowledges Iran’s current refrain from intervening with its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah. France aims to work flexibly on this issue and facilitate the election process in a way that can meet the demands of Hezbollah and bring other Lebanese parties halfway.
According to the sources, there are French-Iranian discussions regarding the performance of “Hezbollah” in the presidential dossier, away from the media, coinciding with the movements of the French presidential envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian. The French envoy is expected to visit Beirut in the second half of the current month after his visit to Saudi Arabia and following the meeting of the Quintet Committee in Doha. He will come carrying their directives along with the French vision in light of his report on the outcomes of his meetings with officials and stakeholders in Lebanon.

Initially, a meeting of the Quintet was scheduled to take place in June of last year. However, the renewed French mediation led to waiting for its initial results in order to build upon them, which subsequently led to the urgent invitation for a meeting. The sources confirm that the only topic on the meeting’s agenda is resolving the issue of the Lebanese presidency. The Quintet countries do not accept getting involved in discussions on other matters as they consider that the key to the solution and the reconstruction of authority and rescue in Lebanon lies in electing a president. It should be noted that the French envoy presents a specific package solution for the presidency and has no intention of delving into the Lebanese system or other topics that are not currently timely.

  • Sawt Beirut International