August 31, 2020 — Paris, France
The Open Letter was first published in French in Le Figaro.
After the explosion that claimed the lives of almost 200 people and maimed thousands more, while Beirut continues to search for its missing and the IMF is preparing a rescue plan for Lebanon, it seems to us that financial support to the Lebanese state is only desirable if it comes with a few political requirements.
As early as July, when French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited the country, massive support already appeared indispensable. And the Lebanese citizens had already expressed their discontent during the autumn 2019 demonstrations launched around the slogan: "All of them means all of them". It is indeed alarming the level of corruption that plagues the Lebanese institutions and it is the Lebanese political class to which this mismanagement must be largely attributed.
Without a deep cleansing of the Lebanese government, no external solidarity will be able to bring real and effective support to the country. It is therefore necessary to put conditions on aid in the form of not just reforms but also to the full and complete respect of international law.
Indeed, Hezbollah is using its power to harm Lebanon in an increasing and uninhibited manner, while at the same time threatening regional, European, and international security. Over the past twenty years, by its own public admission, Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, has been able to create a state within the Lebanese state and supplant the Lebanese army. Hezbollah intervenes in Syria on behalf of the Iranian regime that finances it and in support of the Assad regime guilty of crimes against humanity, while it has continued to perpetrate terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
At this moment of truth for Lebanon, the international community must recognize the central problem that Hezbollah constitutes in the reconstruction of the country. Its stranglehold on the Lebanese political scene today paralyzes any possibility of meaningful political transition.
If Hezbollah has not been solely responsible for an economic system in deficit, it has finally become the guarantor of it. All the major factions in power are opposed to reforms, and Hezbollah's armed status, capable of intimidating and assassinating national political opponents at will and without consequence, has always set the limits of transparency and accountability and has fundamentally prevented the establishment of the rule of law.
Hezbollah is an actor with regional ambitions, whose power and resources come from outside Lebanon and especially from Iran. This vassal status also renders null and void any desire for independence and neutrality of the country.
This is why we are asking President Macron that France no longer obstruct the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization by the European Union. This is not about interference – indeed, the key to a political solution in Lebanon lies in the hands of the Lebanese - but about the global fight we are waging against terrorism.
Additionally, as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for, Hezbollah must be disarmed by virtue of Resolution 1559 adopted in 2004 as well as the 1989 inter-Arab Taif Agreement prohibiting armed militias. "The omnipresence of weapons outside the control of the state, coupled with the existence of armed militias, continues to undermine Lebanon's security and stability. The fact that Hezbollah still has significant and advanced military assets outside the control of the Lebanese state remains a matter of great concern," he said.
The United States, the Gulf countries, in addition to the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Lithuania have already designated Hezbollah for what it is: a terrorist organization. At this moment of truth for Lebanon, France has an opportunity to lead a united European position.
By defending such a position, one of massive but conditioned support, France would fully play its unique role as a mediator in the Middle East. During his visit to Beirut on August 6, President Macron insisted: "the crisis here is serious and implies a historical responsibility of the leaders in place". Without a firm condemnation of Hezbollah, France's actions to help its oldest friend in the region risk being in vain.
- Manuel Valls, former Prime Minister;
- Philippe Douste-Blazy, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Minister of Health, former Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations;
- Corinne Lepage, President of the “Citizen Gathering”, former Member of the European Parliament and former Minister of the Environment;
- Annie Genevard, MP for the Doubs region, Vice-president of the National Assembly
- Constance Le Grip, MP for the Hauts-de-Seine region, Vice-President of the Cultural Affairs and Education Committee, member of the European Affairs Committee
- Agnès Firmin Le Bodo, Member of Parliament for Le Havre
- Roger Karoutchi, Senator of the Hauts-de-Seine region
- Astrid Panosyan, co-founder of En Marche (President Macron’s party)
- Adrien Morenas, former MP for the Vaucluse region
- Philippe Val, journalist, writer, former editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo
- Maya Khadra, French-Lebanese journalist, teacher
- Huguette Chomski-Magnis, Coordinator of the Collective against Terrorism
- Mohamed Sifaoui, journalist, writer and director of Islamoscope TV
- Pascal Bruckner, novelist and essayist
- Mimi Khoriati Abdo, French-Lebanese citizen, feminist activist and member of the Movement for Peace and against Terrorism (MPCT)
- Brice Couturier, journalist, radio producer and essayist
- Thibault de Montbrial, lawyer specializing in the Defense of Internal Security Forces
- Béatrice Szwec, President of the Movement for Peace and against Terrorism
- Nicolas Tenzer, political philosopher and essayist
- David Gakunzi, writer, journalist, director of the Paris Global Forum
- Ana Pak, founder of Tribune Azad Iran Laïc
- Jacky Mamou, President of the Collective Emergency Darfur
- Pierre Henry, Managing Director, France Terre d'asile
- Françoise Rudetzki, Founder of SOS Terror Attach
- Patrick Klugman, lawyer
- Michel Bruguière, former Director General of Doctors of the World
- Bernice Dubois, Honorary President of the French Coordination for the European Women's Lobby;
- Ari Sebag, former President of MedBridge Strategy Center.