Did anyone really believe that the catastrophic explosion at Beirut’s port in August that devastated large sections of the city would compel Lebanon’s politicians to end their disastrous political stalemate? French President Emmanuel Macron apparently did, as he made it his personal project to help pull Lebanon out of its tragedy. He has now come face to face with the intrigue and venality that brought Lebanon to its knees.
On Sunday, Macron lashed out with barely contained anger at Lebanon’s ruling class. But he reserved his most scathing attack for Hezbollah, the Iran-allied militant group and political party. “Hezbollah can’t be at the same time an army at war with Israel, an unrestrained militia against civilians in Syria, and a respectable party in Lebanon,” Macron told reporters in Paris. In his most withering remark, Macron said the quiet part out loud: “Is [Hezbollah] really a political party, or does it proceed just in a logic dictated by Iran and its terrorist forces?”
Macron’s frustration was triggered by events Saturday, when the prime minister-designate, Mustapha Adib, resigned after failing to form a Cabinet. He had been named to the position less than a month ago with Macron’s backing, in the aftermath of the port explosion. Talks to form a government collapsed when Hezbollah, a dominant party in the Lebanese parliament, along with the other main Shiite party, Amal, refused to relent in their demands to control the powerful Finance Ministry. They also insisted on the power to name all Shiite Cabinet members. Adib refused and resigned.