Macron’s mission to revive Lebanon

Following a meeting with Lebanese leaders on April 19, French President Emmanuel Macron maintained his mission to revive Lebanon economically and politically.

Before the meeting, Macron had outlined his hopes to create a “road map” for Lebanon, at the European summit held in Brussels, according to Asharq Al-Awsat and agencies on April 20.

The comments came after a discussion with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun. Both French and Lebanese advisors joined the talks’ focus on four files pertaining to Lebanon’s issues.

One file relates to the ongoing border war between Hezbollah and Israel in southern Lebanon, sparked on October 8 over Hezbollah’s reported support for Gaza.

READ: Tensions mount after Hezbollah strike injures 18 Israelis

The second details European support for the Lebanese army. According to Macron during the summit, the European Council has decided to bolster the role of the Lebanese army in de-escalating the conflict, in partnership with UNIFIL forces already on the ground.

A core goal is to implement UNSC Resolution 1701 which resulted in a ceasefire that ended the last war in 2006. The resolution would introduce a demilitarised buffer zone between Lebanon’s Litani river and international border.

The third file is focussed on revamping Lebanon’s failing economy based upon Macron’s earlier financial plan constructed in 2020.

Lebanon is currently suffering the worst economic crisis in history, rooted in decades of corruption and fund mismanagement, that has seen it crowned the world’s riskiest state for investors.

READ: Lebanon: Boom in money supply offers economic hope

The French president’s plan details reforms needed in Lebanon to make it eligible for financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

At an earlier conference in 2018, Lebanon won a record $11 billion in pledges, hinging on Lebanon’s commitment to long-term reforms.

However, disagreements in Lebanon between the banking sector and politicians have made such plans difficult to implement, with Lebanon’s third attempt at a recovery plan failing this year.

The final file focusses on the failure to elect a president to replace Mikati, with an earlier warning cautioning that the leadership vacuum exacerbated the country’s vulnerability. However, this issue was reportedly not the primary topic of discussion, according to a source from Elysée Palace.

Asharq Al-Awsat / Agencies

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