Amid regional tensions, Quintet Ambassadors ponder Lebanon's political future

Press Highlights
2024-02-21 | 01:53
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Amid regional tensions, Quintet Ambassadors ponder Lebanon's political future
Amid regional tensions, Quintet Ambassadors ponder Lebanon's political future

No one expected the Quintet Ambassadors meeting at the "Pine Residence" to end with "white smoke" or any announcement regarding the presidential file. 

This article was originally published in, translated from Lebanese newspaper al-Joumhouria.
According to a prominent political source speaking to "Al-Joumhouria," this meeting was a response to the frustration that prevailed due to rumors suggesting that the Quintet had failed in its role and that its differences were too significant to reach an agreement...

The source revealed that the Parliament Speaker, Nabih Berri, is not planning to call for bilateral or trilateral consultations or a dialogue table because the positions of the political forces rejecting this matter have stayed the same. 

Thus, there is no point in any consultation table as long as intentions are missing and positions are determined.

The source also disclosed that "those concerned have not been informed of a close visit by the French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian to Beirut, nor a visit by the US envoy Amos Hochstein." 

However, the latter conveyed a message indicating his continued efforts to resolve tensions in the South to reduce escalation levels, paving the way for stopping the war. 

He also conveyed that the situation remains under Israel's control and that operations will remain limited within the strategy of military and security targets and the equation of response and counter-response. 

But the source emphasized that "nothing guarantees Israel's restraint, madness, or expansion of the war"...

Returning to the Quintet meeting, it was attended by the French Ambassador Herve Magro, the US Ambassador Lisa Johnson, the Saudi Walid al-Bukhari, the Egyptian Alaa Moussa, and Qatar's Saud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. 

Official sources told "Al-Joumhouria": "It seems that the 'central' Quintet committee has not yet reached full consensus on the mechanism for completing the presidential entitlement due to differences of opinion among its components on several points."

 "Agreement has been reached only on the specifications of the future president so far, and as a result of the Lebanese division also over this entitlement," the source continued.

"The ambassadors went to Tuesday's meeting without any common proposal uniting them, but they gathered to exchange views and discuss ideas that could constitute common ground between them and the Lebanese parties," the source said.

"This is due to the discussion that still revolves around the same ideas circulating for over a month, summarized as follows: Does the committee adopt a specific candidate or more? Does it set a time limit for the parliament to elect a president? Do some committee countries impose sanctions or measures against those obstructing the presidential elections?" the source added.

According to follow-up sources, "France is working to unify the vision and address the differences within the committee. 

This was evident during the visit of the presidential envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian to Egypt and Saudi Arabia and to maintain the committee's dynamism towards Lebanon despite the preoccupations with more essential and heated regional issues."

Furthermore, sources indicated to "Al-Joumhouria" that the Quintet ambassadors were briefed by the French Ambassador Herve Magro on the results of Le Drian's latest tour and also discussed the developments in the communication process and the current situation in Gaza.

The statement issued by the ambassadors, distributed by the French Embassy and issued late on Tuesday, stated: "The ambassadors of the Quintet committee met on Tuesday to reaffirm their determination to facilitate and support the election of a president for the republic."

"They reviewed the recent developments and communications in Lebanon and the region. Next steps to be taken were also discussed," the statement added.

Meanwhile, diplomatic sources told "Al-Joumhouria" that the meeting came at the initiative of France to inform the ambassadors about the outcome of the tours conducted by the French presidential envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian in Doha, Riyadh, before Cairo.

In addition, the initiative aimed to inform the ambassadors of the results of the meetings with the three countries' foreign ministers and the phone calls between French President Emmanuel Macron and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi discussing the situation in Lebanon and Gaza.

Official sources emphasized that the atmosphere preceding the ambassadors' meeting hinted that it was "consultative" to review the results of each ambassador's contacts at various levels and to consult on the approaches to be adopted to provide incentives that convince the Lebanese of the importance of engaging in the constitutional entitlement aimed at electing a new president away from what is happening in the region. 

Most of the participating countries do not prefer to wait until the military operations in Gaza or southern Lebanon end, given the failure of the ongoing attempts to arrange a humanitarian truce or a cessation of hostilities, if possible, to complete the stages of exchanging prisoners with Hamas among those detained in Israeli prisons.

This remains wishes promised by the foreign ministers of Qatar and the United States and their administrations engaged in calming efforts.

Official references received information that the meeting concluded the necessity of maintaining coordination among the ambassadors and that no fundamental decisions were reached before the meeting, especially regarding the expected movement of Le Drian towards Beirut at an uncontrollable time if the situation remains as it is.

However, informed sources who followed what happened in the meeting of the five ambassadors told "Al-Joumhouria" that "the meeting lasted an hour and a half, characterized by its practicality and focus on the objectives of the group itself regarding Lebanon, stressing the need to expedite the election of a president given the prevailing regional conditions, which also had their share of discussion during the meeting." 

They added that "the ambassadors agreed to resume their tour of officials, political leaders, and parliamentary blocs after the recent meeting they held with the Parliament Speaker, Nabih Berri, and will initially meet with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, then proceed to complete the rest of their meetings, which will also include the Commander of the Army General Joseph Aoun."

The sources pointed out that the French envoy and the Quintet Jean-Yves Le Drian, who had meetings last week in Cairo, Riyadh, and the other capitals of the Quintet group, will visit Lebanon during the first half of March if his visit is not required before the end of this month.

The sources reiterated that Quintet believes that given the developments in the region, it is necessary to expedite the election of a new Lebanese president to ensure Lebanon's presence in any settlement that will be held so that other countries do not take its place.

In response to a question about a dialogue table that it is said Le Drian is working on, bringing together those concerned with presidential entitlement and others? The same sources said that Le Drian raised this idea during his last visit to Lebanon.

However, he insisted that the alternative be bilateral meetings or according to any formula if the "dialogue table" formula is not acceptable to this or that team, with this dialogue being completed within a specified period.

Moreover, he insisted on going to a third option after the result of the June session in which the head of the Marada Movement, Sleiman Frangieh, and the former minister, Jihad Azour, competed. 

This is because the crisis over presidential entitlement is not a constitutional crisis but a political one, which Le Drian emphasized during his recent visit to Lebanon.

While rumors circulated that disagreements prevailed at the meeting of the five ambassadors, the Egyptian Ambassador Alaa Moussa denied this categorically, telling "Al-Joumhouria": "There was no disagreement, and the atmosphere was positive, and an agreement was reached on the steps to be taken, which will include meetings with some parties."

"This is an attempt to make a breakthrough before Ramadan and pave the way for the visit of the French envoy, the timing of which has not yet been determined," he added.

Lebanon News

Press Highlights

Quintet Committee






Jean-Yves Le Drian


Nabih Berri



Saudi Arabia

United States


Herve Magro

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