Since Lebanon’s independence from the French Mandate in 1943, Lebanon and France have often enjoyed quite a mutually “friendly” relationship, with France having had a certain influence in Lebanon’s political system that was initially modeled after the French’s Third Republic. The two nations have a long political history that dates back to the First World War.
In 1920, soon after the end of World War I, the League of Nations mandated that Lebanon would be administered by France after the Partition of the Ottoman Empire, and Lebanon became officially part of the French colonial empire of that time. From November 1929 to November 1931, Charles de Gaulle was posted as General Staff of the Levant Troops in Beirut.
During the Lebanese Civil War, France was an active member in the creation of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and voted in favor of numerous UN Resolutions regarding Lebanon.
France was also a member of the Multinational Force in Lebanon. In 1982, during Operation Épaulard I, headquartered from the Beirut International Airport, French Armed Forces and Paratroopers were sent to the coastal parts of West Beirut and the seaport to ensure peace in those regions.
Between 1982 and 1984, France was tasked with training Lebanon’s Armed Forces. During that same period, France lost more than 89 soldiers out of which 58 French Paratroopers were killed in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings.
In more recent news, in light of Lebanon’s ongoing revolution as well as the quite popular “void” Lebanon has entered in politically, “high-level diplomatic sources” have reportedly told Lebanese newspaper and online news platform Al Joumhouria that France is now “involved” in Lebanon’s government formation.
According to this source, French President Emmanuel Macron will send to Lebanon Christophe Varno, the Director-General of the MENA region at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in order to “speed up and mediate” Lebanon’s struggle toward its new government formation.
The Al Joumhouria’s source went on to state that “France cannot simply sit back and watch what is going on without attempting to bring perspectives together, and facilitate the ongoing discussions, in order for the Lebanese government to resume its operation successfully.”
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reportedly already arranged for Varno’s meetings in Lebanon, which include meeting with the Lebanese President, as well as with the Former Lebanese Prime Minister and with the Lebanese Head of Parliament.