The Lebanese Presidential File: Balancing regional interests and internal dynamics

Press Highlights
2023-05-19 | 00:04
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The Lebanese Presidential File: Balancing regional interests and internal dynamics
The Lebanese Presidential File: Balancing regional interests and internal dynamics

It is impossible to deal with the Arab League Summit at the end of the presidential file in Lebanon. This is fixed and irreversible before and after the summit, concerning political forces that closely follow developments in Saudi-Syrian relations and are in contact with discussions taking place between Washington, Paris, and Qatar.   

This article was originally published in, translated from the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar.  

There are, as they affirm, conclusions reached by the discussions between Lebanese forces and members of the five-party meeting, which do not stop at any transformation that the Jeddah summit may end in.  

There is a first summary that says that the volume of pressure to elect the head of the Marada Movement, Sleiman Frangieh, is equivalent to the volume of accepting the long vacancy.  

Hezbollah knows, and not the Shiite duo, because it is most in touch with what is happening in the region and the repercussions of the Saudi-Iranian settlement, that the battle for the delivery of Frangieh is still challenging, and it is aware that the United States does not stand idly by regarding the aforementioned settlement, even if it had seen it before it entered into force and had been informed by China of the size of its contribution and its economic purpose only.  

It will not accept any translations that it does not look at comfortably, especially with regard to Syria or any of its "papers" in Lebanon.   

He knows that his opponents, domestically and externally, are trying to expedite the presentation of other options that they rely on Speaker Nabih Berri to agree on.   

Therefore, the most comfortable option is to prolong the vacancy until after the end of the term of the Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, to "fly" one of the bargaining items.   

Thus, more than one bird can be hit with one stone. In conclusion, there are only seven months left for the term of the army commander to end and about seven months have passed since the start of the vacancy, while the previous vacancy reached two and a half years, which can be relied upon and that the repetition of what happened will not carry with it more negative repercussions on it.   

Thus, the party exits from the current pressure campaign to fly the option of confrontation, American, Qatari, and Egyptian, between Frangieh and the army commander.  

On the other hand, the opposition is concerned with what is happening regionally. The Saudi-Iranian settlement aroused in it, in the first moments, the possibilities of getting Frangieh out, and gradually began to express concern about the transformation taking place in Riyadh.   

It clearly shows, day after day, the extent of Saudi interest in Syria, in the media and politically, even though the Kingdom was still assuring its questioners that Lebanon is not on the agenda of dialogue with Syria or an agreement with Iran.   

However, the official speech, which has been repeated in recent days, is now leaving Lebanese questions to the opposition and independent forces alike about the possibility of Riyadh having two "languages," one being expressed in the five-party meeting and the other being used in Iran and Syria and with Lebanese forces, which heard Saudi talk that was not reassuring about the presidential settlement.  

This apprehension of the Saudi position is matched by the assertion of a set of constants that the Christian opposition forces, not even the Free Patriotic Movement, can skip.   

The concern that worries these forces is related to a Saudi "imposition" to attend the presidential sessions and secure a quorum.   

Although the position of the Lebanese Forces, for example, ranging from accepting the quorum to refusing to secure it if the settlement requires the election of Frangieh, the LF cannot take steps back and accept any settlement that brings it under the pretext of sanctions against those who obstruct the holding of the sessions.    

Neither the European sanctions nor the Saudi demand would achieve the quorum. Until now, it is impossible to bet that the Christian opposition will accept this.    

Since the announcement of Frangieh's candidacy, the position of the Lebanese Forces has been the subject of speculation.    

Prime Minister Najib Mikati's relationship with the Lebanese Forces and its relationship with Speaker Nabih Berri opened the door to questions about the possibility of rounding corners with them.    

However, the Lebanese Forces still assert, at least until this moment, that they are clear in their position opposing Frangieh and will not accept a Saudi position that gives them a choice between "bad and worse," given that the LF has more than one porter on their shoulders, such as the Kataeb party, which acted more than once as outside any settlement imposed by abroad, whether from Paris or Riyadh, which gives it credibility among the political and Christian "streets."   

As well as the Free Patriotic Movement, which reiterates its position of refusing to secure a quorum for the election of the Marada Movement's head.    

Although the position of the FPM carried several ambiguities regarding the belief that it exaggerates its conditions to raise the barter's "price."    

However, Bassil goes further every day than the day before in confirming Frangieh's rejection, and his position on Hezbollah can no longer bear interpretations, as he is aware of the importance of his current position, and he is the one who is trying to send Syrian and Saudi messages, he is still at square one and is capable at a moment Hezbollah goes to a decisive confrontation with Frangieh on the decisive convergence with the opposition.    

To this extent, talk of foreign sanctions and Saudi wishes could have a reverse effect, not in the manner of the Maarab Agreement and the sharing of the rations in it. The reaction to the Paris initiative and the move of the Elysee administration showed that the Christian forces can still reject what was imposed on them.    

There are red lines, according to political sources, that made the Maronite leaders choose chaos over the election of the late MP Mikhael al-Daher in the 1990s, and today they are on the verge of a similar experience, which makes them, regardless of their positions, act in the same way.

Lebanon News

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Sleiman Frangieh

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