The initiatives of the Macron presidency

Posted on June 30, 2021

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Khattar Abou Diab de Sep 8, 2017 – 11:01 in Politics

During his electoral campaign, in his speeches and talks, Africa and the Mediterranean emerged as priority fields of action for the future President Emmanuel Macron.

There has been a lot of talk in Washington about the hostile relations between Russia and Iran, and what continues to go wrong… But current geopolitics and trade alliances paint a different perspective.
In the Sahel, as in the Maghreb, the fight against terrorism and the settlement of the Libyan question seemed to be at the top of the concerns accompanied by initiatives counting on confirming France’s interest in these vital areas.
The Sahel, the nerve center of the famous French precinct in Africa, was President Emmanuel Macron’s first non-European foreign destination. In Mali, the G5 summit devoted to security in the Sahel, held last July, was a baptism of fire for the young French president with the French military institution as with France’s African allies.
The changing and troubled situation of Libya in the Sahel did not take France by surprise. Its history has never ceased to be intertwined with that of this region in particular. Through its economy, its ideas, its language, its diplomatic and military capabilities, the place it occupies in the United Nations Security Council, France is engaged on the international scene, in accordance with its interests and values. .
Although France is criticized for its colonial history, its commitment serves stability and provides much-appreciated assistance in several areas. Thus, the capacity for initiative specific to Paris in certain areas is given as an example of efficiency, because it is carried out in consultation with partners and under the cover of international law.
At the beginning of 2013, Operation Serval in Mali illustrated the strength of a full commitment to the fight against terrorism, and to save the Malian state and defend the integrity of its territory. Certainly, the level of French confidence and influence in the continent in general and in West and North Africa in particular have contributed to the success of the rescue of Mali and of Operation Barkhane in the Sahel, which takes place. continues to this day.
In order to stabilize the Sahel and coordinate the fight against terrorism, the leaders of the G5 Sahel countries (Mali, Chad, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso) and in the presence of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, took action on Sunday, July 2 in Bamako, the constitution of a joint anti-jihadist force and they released funds to begin its deployment in the fall.
Let us recall that faced with the deterioration of the situation in central Mali, bordering Burkina Faso and Niger, which in turn was won over by jihadist violence (as evidenced by the very recent bloody attack on a Turkish restaurant in Ouagadougou, on August 14, , costing the lives of 17 people including several foreigners) the G5 had reactivated, during a summit in Bamako in February, the project of this force.
President Macron therefore only pursued the plans of his predecessor. But, according to an African source, his insinuations on a possible French disengagement in the medium term from the Sahel were not appreciated by the great French officers on the spot. And following the G5 Sahel summit, the president seems more and more convinced of the importance and the need to maintain the French commitment.

Intervention in Libya. On June 21, he explained that “France was wrong to wage war in Libya”. A very disturbing certainty for many observers and supporters of international humanitarian law. Emmanuel Macron notes that, with hindsight, it appears that the Franco-English intervention in Libya was not necessarily judicious. But the responsibilities of the Libyan disaster do not fall only on the external factor and they are rather internal and regional.
Indeed, the Libyan question and its upheavals put the French commitment to the test, given the involvement of France in the NATO operation in 2011, and the failure in the reconstruction and restoration of the country. order, due to internal and regional tears, and to the discord between Western forces.
Faced with an explosive, torn and threatening Libyan political landscape in his immediate environment, even for Europe, President Emmanuel Macron has decided to launch an initiative to help settle the crisis by organizing in Paris, on July 25, a meeting between Marshal Khalifa Haftar, Commander of the Libyan National Army, and the Head of the Government of National Accord.
This choice corresponds to the two most influential Libyan personalities in political and military terms, in order to get Libya out of the impasse and start a real dynamic which could subsequently encompass all the parties. And it is not excluded that the arrival of the former Lebanese Minister Ghassan Salamé as new special envoy of the United Nations (UN) and the outbreak of the Gulf crisis (where Doha and Abu Dhabi must s ‘more interested in their own affairs) can play a role in the timing of Macron’s French initiative, which places Libya as a priority for its diplomatic action.
On the Paris meeting’s insistence on the ceasefire, and the holding of elections in spring 2018, militias in Misrata and Tripoli have remained silent, while the Libyan parliament based in Tobruk , wished to pay tribute to this agreement.
For their part, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya and other political forces have been negative in refusing to make adjustments outside of the Al-Skhirat framework agreement. They refused in particular to “hold meetings sponsored exclusively by states far from the UN framework”.
This reserved position of the Libyan interior rhymes with a negative Italian message to Paris, when the Italian president spoke on Twitter saying that “ensuring long-term stability in Libya must go beyond the individual efforts of the countries and voluntary alliances ”.

Military assistance. Returning to Tripoli via Rome, Prime Minister Al-Sarraj requested the military assistance of the Italian Navy to fight illegal immigration and this caused the rejection of Haftar.
But, in short, it is proof of the recognition of the importance of the Italian political and military role in Libyan affairs (note the presence of military experts in Misrata and Tripoli). Thus, France in its contacts with Rome insisted on the unity of the international community to facilitate the Libyan solution.
In this context, the presence in Paris of the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Choukri, on the sidelines of the Saint-Cloud meeting (on July 25, between Sarraj and Haftar) is a clear signal to support French efforts.
French diplomacy informed Washington, London and Moscow in particular, as well as all the players concerned, with a view to supporting its initiative. For the moment, there is no particular hindrance or encouragement. It is the start of a long process for France, despite the diversity of interests and risks.
Regarding the Maghreb, President Emmanuel Macron insisted on re-establishing a relationship of trust with Algeria. He was even “accused” of having a penchant for Algeria, which apparently offended Morocco “used to forging strong links with presidents from the French right”. But the president reserved for Morocco his first visit devoted to the Maghreb, leading to a balanced French positioning within North Africa, also making it possible to support the transition in Tunisia.

Khattar Abu Diab

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