Security and diplomacy in focus: British and French envoys' visits to Beirut amid regional challenges

Press Highlights
2024-02-01 | 01:41
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Security and diplomacy in focus: British and French envoys' visits to Beirut amid regional challenges
Security and diplomacy in focus: British and French envoys' visits to Beirut amid regional challenges

A scheduled visit by British Foreign Secretary David Cameron to Beirut on Thursday does not deviate from the context of previous visits by foreign envoys, where the main focus is on the developments in the southern border.

This article is originally published in, translated from Lebanese newspaper Al-Joumhouria.
It is known that the British position aligns with the US position, aiming to de-escalate and prevent the expansion of the Israeli war on Gaza to other areas, especially Lebanon.

Sources informed "Al-Joumhouria" that this visit was decided during previous meetings between the British Foreign Secretary and the caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

The previous talks with the British minister reflected Britain's concern for Lebanon's security, stability, and the regularity of its political cycle.

There is apprehension that the escalation from Gaza to Lebanon and the Red Sea could raise the level of risks and insecurity not only in the Middle East but globally.

On the other side of the political scene, the question arises about the next step for the Quintet committee after the recent diplomatic activity initiated by its ambassadors and on what basis will Jean-Yves Le Drian, the committee's envoy, proceed in his upcoming visit to Beirut?

Although the five ambassadors held talks that were described as positive and promising with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, diplomatic sources concerned with the Quint's movement affirmed to "Al-Joumhouria" that the emphasis is on expediting the presidential election in Lebanon, independent of the security developments in the southern front.

They believe these developments provide a solid incentive to hasten the election, as President Nabih Berri expressed support for the committee's efforts to elect a president as soon as possible.

Responding to a question, the sources clarified that the Quintet committee does not involve itself in naming presidential candidates, as this would complicate its mission and goes against its initial declaration that a Lebanese president cannot be imposed from abroad.

The committee is solely interested in pushing for Lebanese consensus on a president. It does not make decisions on behalf of the Lebanese people as they are the decision-makers in this matter and decide who they will choose for the presidency.

In addition, the sources revealed that "the committee plays a crucial role in resolving the presidential issue in Lebanon and will express new ideas during Le Drian's visit to Beirut to advance the presidential dossier. We believe that the date of his visit is approaching. We are in constant contact with him."

However, the sources did not disclose the nature of these new ideas, stating that "the main goal is to accelerate the election of a president in Lebanon. But we must consider a basic issue: that the five countries have something to encourage them to move towards Lebanon."

The sources continued: "However, this remains insufficient unless the Lebanese interact positively with the committee's efforts, which means that the solution, first and foremost, is in the hands of the Lebanese.

In response to a question about the reported US and Saudi conflict with the Qatari movement in Beirut, the sources said: "As the committee's ambassadors previously confirmed, the five-member committee countries have one position on the presidential file."

"Our only goal is to reach an understanding with the Lebanese and hold presidential elections. As we learned from Ambassador Lisa Johnson, Washington is pulling in this direction more than ever," the sources said.

"And so is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose interest in the presidential file was summarized by Ambassador Walid Al-Bukhari as saying that it wants to see Lebanon overcome its crisis and move to a stage of prosperity, and the first step for this is evident in the election of a president," the sources added.

According to reliable sources confirmed to "Al-Joumhouria," if the "Quintet" is betting on a Lebanese awakening to expedite the resolution of the presidential file and considers the lack of agreement or understanding among the Lebanese as a blow to Lebanon's interest, the French atmosphere suggests that Le Drian is packing his bags to head to Beirut.

The sources do not rule out consultations preceding the visit along the Riyadh, Doha, and Cairo lines.

The sources mentioned that the date of Le Drian's visit has not been determined yet, but it is not far off. They quoted high-level French levels as saying, "They rely on his mission in Beirut and his success in persuading Lebanese political leaders to engage in a swift presidential solution."

 According to these sources, it is naive to assume Le Drian will come to Beirut empty-handed. Instead, he seems to come with what appears to be a "double push," driven by the Quintet committee according to a program for a rapid presidential solution in Lebanon and by significant support and momentum from the Élysée Palace.

The presidency file in Lebanon is a top priority for President Emmanuel Macron, who is determined to find a quick consensus solution, recognizing the urgent need for the country to elect a president in the current circumstances.

This priority is parallel to the priority of extinguishing tensions, reducing the escalation and not aggravating the situation in Lebanon, and preventing the expansion of the cruel war into it.

At the same time, the Quintet committee affirmed that it is not likely to propose or endorse a specific candidate for the presidency, leaving it to the Lebanese to agree on any figure they choose, as there is no "veto" by the committee on any candidate.

Sources informed "Al-Joumhouria" that this committee's stance indirectly calls on the Lebanese to initiate dialogue to achieve this consensus.

The solution lies here, where there must be an agreement on a president, requiring dialogue. However, the idea of dialogue is not internally acceptable because influential political and Christian entities in Lebanon reject the principle of dialogue.

Many calls for this dialogue, initiated by President Nabih Berri, have failed and not responded to dialogue initiatives.

The sources added that, based on the previous rejection of dialogue initiatives and the unchanged positions of parties regarding dialogue and the necessity of consensus, the idea of conducting a dialogue among the Lebanese seems impossible domestically.

It does not appear externally feasible, as "nobody has time for us." Therefore, there is a fear that Lebanon will remain in the same spiral as fate dictates.

Lebanon News

Press Highlights


David Cameron




Foreign Secretary

Quintet Committee

Jean-Yves Le Drian


United States


Saudi Arabia

Nabih Berri




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