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"We Need Someone Like Macron to Rule Lebanon"

The Lebanese public is divided over the French president's comments: some have wel-comed his criticism of Hezbollah, while others feel that he has overstepped the mark.

In el-Tarik el-Jdideh, a predominantly Sunni neighborhood, the French president's fierce criticism of Hezbollah was well received. Photo Z.A.

In el-Tarik el-Jdideh, a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Beirut, many people welcome the strong statements of Emmanuel Macron who did not spare Lebanese politicians on Sunday. "We need someone like the French president to lead this country. He is right in everything he said and he should have been more aggressive," said a 67-year-old former serviceman while sitting on the sidewalk with men from the neighborhood."Hezbollah did hinder the formation of the cabinet. Moreover, it blocks everything in the country," he added. At a press conference on Lebanon, Macron castigated the "collective betrayal" of the Lebanese ruling class on the issue of the cabinet formation, but he attacked Hezbollah in particular. "We want Mr. Macron to step in," said Wissam Shkifi, 47, another local resident. "No one will be able to face Hezbollah if the international community does not intervene. The problem is that Hezbollah wants to get its hands on the country," said this unemployed father of four children, adding that he had tried to emigrate several times.

Abdel-Rahman, a 47-year-old merchant, was more critical of Macron's comments."We were happy to see the French president intervene to resolve the situation. But he ended up talking with Hezbollah and accepting its military arsenal. Let Hassan Nasrallah announce to us quite simply that it is he the one who governs," said this man who has always lived in el-Tarik el-Jdideh. "Personally, I am against confessionalism in political life. My dream is that the country be governed by a person who can impose security and justice, regardless of his religious affilia-tion. But I realize that this is utopian, in a country made up of so many religious communities," Abdel-Rahman added.

At the other end of the city, at Sassine Square in Ashrafieh, 60-year-old Nabil Hanna was resting in the shade of a tree, not far from the portrait of Bashir Gemayel. He is among those who be-lieve that Macron's criticisms of Hezbollah and the political class as a whole came at the right time. "The French president was honest, but the officials lied to him. They should be ashamed, after all what he said!" he said. "I am in favor of rotating ministerial portfolios among the dif-ferent sects."

One of his friends, a 78-year-old retired man, was clearly upset. "Hundreds of people died in the Beirut explosions and thousands were injured and all they care about is taking this or that portfolio!" he said. "Emmanuel Macron is honest. He decided to help Lebanon, and I am sure that he will not let us down."

To 40-year-old Nicolas Azar, "only a miracle may bring the country out of its crisis. I support Mr. Macron's comments, but the political parties control everything here. If only the people would begin to turn away from these leaders who offer them nothing."

"Let Him Take Care of His Own Country"

In the southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold Macron's statements are far from unanimous. The French President's press conference highlighted the divisions within the population, and accentuated the cleavage between Hezbollah supporters and those who believe that the French initiative is the only possible way out for a country that is sinking day by day.

In the Chiyah neighborhood, a street fruit vendor and his wife, who came to bring him his lunch of rice and beans, denounced a plot targeting Hezbollah. They both support the Shiite party. "It is a conspiracy hatched by the Americans, the Israelis and the French to disarm Hezbollah. They do not want the Shiites to be able to sign alongside the Maronites and Sunnis," the 52-year-old man said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Efforts to form a new cabinet was reportedly thwarted by Hezbollah and its partner, the Amal movement, which insisted on taking back the finance ministry and naming the other Shiite ministers. The finance minister signs almost all decrees alongside the Maronite president and the Sunni prime minister.

"Macron is ridiculous. He thinks he can interfere in our business and give us orders. Let him take care of his own country. He crossed the line and made a fool of himself," said his 48-year-old wife. The couple, originally from the region of Marjayoun in the south, has three children, two of whom are Hezbollah fighters.

"My children have already fought in Syria. When they are asked to leave, they have to do so. But they are paid in dollars. So I do not have to worry. I sell fruit only to cover a few basic ex-penses," the greengrocer said. His wife said she was convinced that "the solution to the impasse is for Hezbollah to take power." "Hezbollah has always stood up for those who suffered, regard-less of their affiliations. It is thanks to them that we survived the Islamic state (IS). It is not the one that has impoverished the country," she said.


(This article was originally published in French in l'Orient-Le Jour on the 29th of September)




In el-Tarik el-Jdideh, a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Beirut, many people welcome the strong statements of Emmanuel Macron who did not spare Lebanese politicians on Sunday. "We need someone like the French president to lead this country. He is right in everything he said and he should have been more aggressive," said a 67-year-old former serviceman while sitting on the sidewalk with men...