France needs to avoid walking in America’s steps

This is a war project, not a peace project.

Sept. 09, 2021

Sajaan Azzi


(See Translation in Arabic Section)

Iran did not wait for the call between its new president, Ibrahim Raisi, and President Emmanuel Macron, to realize how favourable it is to France. Since the Crusades, Persia has been a part of French historical memory.

On February 19, 1715, King Louis XIV received the ambassador of Sultan Hussein Safavi at the Palace of Versailles. French philosophers, travellers, writers and poets wrote with admiration of a country in which “only roses are spread in its meadows” (Diderot), and “the court of its sultan exudes more splendour than the Ottoman Sublime Porte” (Voltaire).

And if the French waited for Bonaparte’s campaign to Egypt in 1798 to be directly concerned with the Egyptian heritage, then their interest in Persia grew since the 16th century, and was reinforced in the following centuries, especially in the era of enlightenment with Voltaire, Montesquieu and Diderau, etc.

But politics did not keep pace with the literary path as France was bound by agreements and concessions with the Ottomans, including the right to protect the Christians of the East. So when King Louis XIII came about 1640 to conclude trade agreements with Shah Abbas the Safavid and guaranteed them the right to protect the Christians of Persia, the Ottomans failed them.

French political and elitist society formed this semi-romantic picture because they got to know Persia through the writers and travellers who wrote about the pomp of its sultans and the openness of its people, about the blue and brown domes of its mosques, and about the Al-Badhira and Al-Sabbahira.

The image of Persia remained beautiful in the imagination of the French until historians and researchers began to discuss the military and bloody face of the Persian empires and their persecution of the Christians of Georgia and the Armenians, and their invasion of Afghanistan and other peoples in Central Asia. Nevertheless, the French kept swaying between Persia of civilization and literature, and Persia of war and violence. France did not make its final choice until after the victory of the Khomeinist revolution in 1979 because there are other countries in Persia that are oil wells, major projects and extensive commercial markets.

On September 5, with the American negotiations faltering in Vienna, Iranian President Raisi told French President Macron in a phone call about “the necessity of forming a strong Lebanese government.” There was great joy in the Elysee Palace, to the extent that a high-ranking French official donated CEDRE’s money and cleared Iran of the governmental crisis in Lebanon (Letter of Randa Taqi al-Din from Paris – “Al-Nahar” September 6).

We do not doubt for a moment about France’s good intentions towards Lebanon, and we trust that it will remain on the side of Lebanon and its people until they come out of their ordeal. However, how many fatal errors have occurred in the name of good intentions and because of the lack of understanding of the peculiarities of nations? Originally, all of Lebanon’s internal and regional problems resulted from a struggle between good intentions and bad intentions.

In 1976, the United States thought that assigning the Syrian regime the guardianship of Lebanon would stop the war and restore stability to the country. It turned out later that the well-intentioned choice was wrong, as Syria turned into an occupying power out of bad faith, and wars took place, and the Lebanese resistance, led by Bashir Gemayel, had the intention of liberation.

It would be better if France in 2021 avoided repeating the American mistake and spared us a new resistance. France would commit a historical sin if it bet that a partnership with Iran in the guardianship of Lebanon would end the crisis and return Lebanon to an independent and stable master. This is a war project, not a peace project, unless the understanding between them translates into sending temporary French forces to Lebanon to implement the international resolutions of which France was the godmother of many, at the forefront of which are resolutions 1559, 1757 and 1701.

The Lebanese do not, in principle, oppose Paris’s efforts to improve its relations with Iran if it is true to its promises to President Macron. However, the Lebanese fear that the improvement of French/Iranian relations will come at the expense of Lebanon, given the existence of an Iranian project that includes controlling Lebanon. As for us, we will reject any international or regional settlement that sacrifices the interest of Lebanon and its free existence, and we will resist it with all that the word resistance means, and the rest will come...

The totality of the French/Iranian developments reveals that Iran: 1) interferes in Lebanese issues and does not establish a concern for the Lebanese legitimacy, and that it is the main party that has prevented for 13 months the formation of the government. 2) It does not seek to create a partnership with France in Lebanon but rather to elicit French coverage for its intervention in Lebanon and the control of Hezbollah over it (this is how the Syrian regime did with America between 1976 and 2005). 3) It is trying, through rapprochement with France, and subsequently with the European Union, to disrupt the new European sanctions, and to circumvent the United States and respond to its strictness in the Vienna talks, where Washington linked the nuclear agreement to belittling Iran’s role in the Middle East countries, especially Lebanon in Syria.

France’s recognition of Iran’s role in Lebanon is a prelude to its participation in any international conference on Lebanon, or in any Lebanese conference with international sponsorship, similar to its participation in conferences related to Iraq. Since Iran, through Hezbollah, took control of Lebanon, the state collapsed, and its role was unable to substitute for the European Union, America, the International Monetary Fund, the donor countries, the CEDRE Conference and the United Nations. Therefore, it seems strange for France to officially recognize Iran’s role in Lebanon without revealing to us what it got for the Lebanese, and not for it, from Iran? What are the negotiating points on Lebanon? If France’s recognition of Iran’s role in Lebanon is the result of Hezbollah’s presence there, then it means that France, by extension, recognizes its weapons. The danger of such recognition is that it is not only at the expense of the other Lebanese parties, but at the expense of the State of Lebanon. At that time, we will have no choice but to respond to the call: Labbik Lebanon


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