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French President Emmanuel Macron to visit Beirut

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French President Emmanuel Macron to visit Beirut

Macron in Beirut
Photo: AP Photo

French President Emmanuel Macron will meet Lebanese officials in Beirut today to reiterate calls for political reforms.

Macron’s latest visit to the Lebanese capital is emblematic of a series of French initiatives ostensibly aimed at helping Lebanon overcome chronic instability. Owing to its colonial legacy in the country, France often takes interest in affairs concerning Lebanon. Following the August 4 Beirut explosion, Macron was the first foreign leader to visit the city and quickly dispatched France’s Tonnerre helicopter-carrier for the provision of much-needed humanitarian aid.

The explicit conditioning of essential foreign aid on profound reforms sparked hopes that Macron’s visit would prove fruitful. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s uncharacteristic statements that the group is open to a reformist government on the eve of Macron’s visit gave credence to such hopes. With Hezbollah facing unprecedented public scrutiny due to Lebanon’s dilapidated economy and crumbling institutions, the Shi’a group seemed acquiescent to changes in the country’s established political framework.

However, the nomination of Lebanese diplomat Mustapha Adib as prime minister dispelled any such illusion. Adib, like outgoing PM Hassan Diab, is a largely unknown academic with close ties to former PM Najib Mikati, who was accused of corruption during his premiership. Rather than leading to significant reform, expect Adib’s nomination to only provide a semblance of real change while leaving Lebanon’s deeply entrenched political patronage system unchallenged.

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