French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to visit French peacekeeping troops operating in Southern Lebanon, today. Macron’s Christmas Eve visit
French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to visit French peacekeeping troops operating in Southern Lebanon, today.
Macron’s Christmas Eve visit comes after last Wednesday’s alleged Iran-backed Hezbollah ambush of UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeepers in the village of Aqbieh . Although Hezbollah has denied accusations of its involvement in the attack, the Shia militant group recently expressed its opposition to the renewal of UNIFIL’s mandate in Lebanon.
Given the recent attack, the certainty of Macron’s visit is up in the air. If he does make it, expect Macron to strongly advocate for the swift election of a Lebanese president. The country has spent the past two months without a head of state after former President Michel Aoun left office on October 31. Governmental stability is crucial in the short-term to coordinate the implementation of necessary economic reforms to address the nation’s three-year long humanitarian crisis.
Long-term, Macron will likely continue his efforts to cement France’s role as a key player in Middle Eastern diplomacy. Earlier this week, representatives met at the Macron-organized Baghdad II summit, where attempts to normalize relations with Iran–which exercises outsized influence in Lebanese politics–will largely determine the prospects for Lebanon’s recovery.