The special envoy of French President Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said Wednesday that he will visit Lebanon "very soon," believing that "the country is on the verge of war," while hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah continue on the border of South Lebanon as part of the conflict between the Jewish state and Palestinian Hamas, triggered by the latter on Oct. 7.
The clashes have so far left at least a hundred dead in Lebanon, including more than 80 Hezbollah fighters and around ten civilians, including three Lebanese journalists.
On Wednesday, an Israeli strike killed five people, including the son of Hezbollah parliamentary group leader Mohammad Raad.
“The war is at the gates of Lebanon”
“I am very concerned about the Lebanese situation. War is at the gates of Lebanon. There is no President of the Republic, there is no Prime Minister since he only manages current affairs. The government does not meet and the Parlaiment does not meet. This country is on the brink of war (...),” underlined Le Drian during an interview with France Info.
“Lebanese officials must overcome their rivalries and agree to ensure that there is a constitutional system that works,” he argued, believing that “the sense of responsibility must return to the principal leaders of Lebanon. “I will go to Lebanon very soon at the request of the President of the Republic to convey this message,” said the French envoy.
Tensions in South Lebanon
In this context, Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed his concern about the tensions on the Lebanese-Israeli border. “We see tensions increasing in South Lebanon with exchanges of fire, with dozens of deaths of which little is spoken, including two of your colleagues who were killed yesterday (Tuesday) in South Lebanon,” underlined Mr. Le Drian with the France Info journalist, in reference to the two journalists from the al-Mayadeen channel killed Tuesday in an Israeli strike.
The French envoy also estimated that the declarations by the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, “show that he probably does not want to go too far.” “But no one should go too far and the risks, if the tension continues, are that there will be incidents which can no longer be controlled, and at that moment, an explosion which would affect Lebanon itself. I think there may be sparks that cause larger fires,” he said.
In his last speech, Hassan Nasrallah affirmed that the Shiite party would “continue in (its) performance” against Israel, seeming to want to avoid an escalation at the border.
Iran, the “big winner”
Finally commenting on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Mr. Le Drian said "the big winner for the moment, for me, is Iran. Because the operation, the massacre initiated by Hamas, first made it possible to avoid normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel. This was undoubtedly the first goal sought."
This article was originally published in French for L'Orient-Le Jour.