The foreign ministers of all countries did not attend, as was customary before. Representation took place through ambassadors and delegates, and on top of that, the meeting lasted no more than 30 minutes. This reveals a lack of faith in the work of the Commission on the one hand and a sense of no urgency to intervene in the affairs of Lebanon and its crises on the other. The "file" is declining in the corridors of the international decision despite the phenomena of exacerbation in recent weeks that have affected the security and refugee files, which not only threaten Lebanon, but also raise real European concern about the tsunami of asylum that Cyprus clearly expressed on September 27.
If there is a divergence in visions between France and the United States in many international files, the latest of which is the contradiction of the agendas of the two countries in Niger and Africa in general, the New York meeting also showed the beginning of a conflict in the plans of Paris and Washington regarding the approach to the Lebanese crisis.
The United States seemed to be waving to withdraw sponsorship of the French "initiative" and prepare for its termination. US Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf was quoted as saying that the solution needs to elect a president and not to engage in a dialogue defended by Paris and called for by Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
Notwithstanding the tense deliberations that ended the New York meeting half an hour later without a joint statement, a Qatari envoy is still holding talks inside Lebanon to market the third option and put forward alternative names for Hezbollah candidate Suleiman Frangieh and opposition candidate Jihad Azour. Although the list of names has expanded, army chief Joseph Aoun's name remains the most prominent despite the man's recent positions and pursuit of the position.
Regardless of the teetering of the French initiative, which has always been considered in line with the agenda of Tehran and its party in Lebanon, France announced a new visit by its presidential envoy to Lebanon, Jean-Yves Le Drian, without a new appearance in the capitals of the decision that justifies the man's continued knocking on the doors of Beirut. What leaked from the New York meeting was that the US delegate considered that this visit "should be the last."
It is understood from the American position that a French role has failed since French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to Beirut days after the explosion of its port on August 4, 2020. Washington's relationship with Macron's initiative remained murky and did not enjoy clear US public patronage and was not recorded as being vetoed or directly obstructed by Washington. But the New York detail makes clear that Washington wanted to tell Paris categorically that it was necessary to move to another phase in the methods of dealing with Lebanon.
No major surprise although this "friction" seemed surprising. In recent months, the United States and Saudi Arabia have shown the same position within the five-member committee regarding the non-acceptance of the fait accompli that Hezbollah wants to reimpose regarding the presidential election, without the common position (especially Saudi Arabia) affecting France's role and initiative in Lebanon.
It is noteworthy that the position of the two countries draws at the same time from the terms and conditions of the Saudi-Iranian understandings in many files, especially the issue of full diplomatic normalization between the two countries. It also draws on the conditions of the indirect negotiations that took place between Tehran and Washington that led to the prisoner exchange deal and the repercussions it could have on negotiations over Iran's nuclear program.
It is also noteworthy that France's position was based mainly on keeping pace with Iran's interests and continuing dialogue with Hezbollah in the service of subsequent French interests with Tehran. On the other hand, the positions of Washington and Riyadh were based on the data of their communication with Tehran and their knowledge of the red lines that must not be crossed.
While Iran's public language is still tense in talking about the United States, due to the Beijing agreement on March 10, it has leaned towards flexibility and friendliness towards Saudi Arabia to the extent that Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was quoted during his visit in early September to Lebanon about telling Hezbollah the need to "not provoke Saudi Arabia" in its presidential choices.
In any case, the confusion of the compass in the orientations of the countries of the Committee of Five may lead to the disintegration of this diplomatic platform, which began tripartite before Qatar and Egypt joined it, which may justify the emergence of new mechanisms and methods that may be shocking that hint at the use of the weapon of international sanctions against obstructionists to elect a president of the Republic in Lebanon.
At this time, the Lebanese debate becomes futile about who bears responsibility for the continuing crisis in the country. Berri blames Christian currents and parties, especially in terms of their position on dialogue, while the opposition, of all stripes, holds Hezbollah and its allies responsible for the collapse of the country, while refraining from electing a president of the republic also prevents stopping its slide into an unknown gendarmerie.
Le Drian may lose the effectiveness of his role in Lebanon under pressure from Washington, which is preparing in the middle of next month to send the US envoy for global energy security Amos Hochstein back to Beirut to complete his mediation on the demarcation of the land border between Lebanon and Israel. The two men represent paths that appear to be separated, though they met in the era of preparation for the maritime demarcation before that.