Skip to content
Christian Chesnot: “The chaos in Libya is our own Iraq” – World Today




Journalists Christian Chesnot (France Inter) and Georges Malbrunot (Le Figaro) publish an investigation into the underside of Emmanuel Macron’s eastern diplomacy. They paint the portrait of a voluntarist hyperpresident put to the test of reality, who did not succeed in stopping “The French downgrading”

. Interview with Christian Chesnot.

What do you think is the history of the decline of French diplomatic influence?

In March 2003, the speech made at the UN by Dominique de Villepin against the war in Iraq remains engraved as the peak of French influence in the Arab world. Since then, it has frayed as France has abandoned its singularity, trying to repair the fracture with the United States, following the no to George W. Bush. And, unlike his successor, Jacques Chirac had a cultural background that allowed him to have an intimate relationship with the leaders of the Middle East, in particular with Rafic Hariri in Lebanon. The objective was not only to sell them arms and buy oil, but also to establish a relationship of mutual trust.

Under Sarkozy, then Hollande, you observed an inconsistency in the French position, particularly in Libya and Syria…

I call it windshield wiper diplomacy. She applied herself with Bashar al-Assad and Colonel Gaddafi. First welcomed with great fanfare at the Élysée, they became the men to be killed at the time of the Arab Spring. Under the influence of the neo-conservatives, France gradually swung into an anti-Iranian doxa, with the aim of bringing down the dictatorships. But the double talk and the defense of human rights with variable geometry discredit us.

Emmanuel Macron was a proactive president, aware of this loss of influence. However, whether in Libya, Algeria or Lebanon, his strategy did not work. Why ?

Emmanuel Macron is more visionary and pragmatic than his predecessors. He will tackle a lot of issues and, as he is intellectually dazzling, he understands them very quickly. But in the Middle East, time doesn’t have the same value, and you shouldn’t be in a hurry. His personality didn’t help, as he can’t stand criticism and always wants to be right. Moreover, he does not trust his administration, which has harmed him in the two issues that were most important to him: Lebanon and Algeria.

In the case of Lebanon, do you think the President was badly advised, or was he too sure of himself?

A month and a half after his election, he organized the Cedre conference (intended to financially support Lebanon in order to revive its economy and ensure its stability, Ed) which is counting on aid of 11 billion euros. This will ultimately never happen. What sins with Emmanuel Macron is his method, which confuses speed and haste. Having invested enormous political capital by visiting Beirut twice, he did not bother to coordinate with Iran before talking to Hezbollah. Moreover, the President’s neoconservative advisers are not neutral. Bernard Emié, director of the DGSE (Directorate General for External Security, editor’s note), and Emmanuel Bonne, former ambassador to Lebanon and diplomatic adviser, hate Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

On Algeria, we had the feeling that the president was practicing his “at the same time”, by handling the carrot and the stick. For what result?

Before his election, Emmanuel Macron made remarks that resonated when he declared that colonization is a crime against humanity. Then, once elected, he wants to continue to lure the Algerians by making gestures of goodwill: declassification of archives, Benjamin Stora’s report on colonization, etc. But he hit a wall. The Algerian deep state does not want a reconciliation because it is a memory rent. It will never be enough for them.

Nationalism makes it possible to reunite the State. Moreover, there is a political will of the Algerian power to break the Francophonie. In the book, we explain that Algerian leaders coming to France for treatment have a slate of around 20 million euros with Social Security. Meanwhile, they are excluding our companies like Suez and RATP. There is a problem of reciprocity in our diplomacy.

In Libya, France supports Marshal Haftar informally, to the east, and President Fayez al-Sarraj, via the international community, to the west. Has this form of schizophrenia definitively buried French influence in this country?

When Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Élysée, it’s a bit like Jesus walking on water. He organizes a conference on Libya without the Italians, who soap the board. The DGSE is then positioned on the eastern side, with Marshal Haftar, while the COS (Special Operations Command) forms Sarraj’s guard. Three French DGSE agents died in a helicopter “accident”, along with other Frenchmen in the camp opposite. There were hiccups. Although we have become closer to the Italians, the Turks and Russians have taken root in the country. We have lost a lot of influence. We were welcomed as liberators, but our embassy in Tripoli ended up blowing up in 2013. The chaos in Libya is our own Iraq. The last conference in November was useless. This is the birth of incantatory diplomacy, where we have illusions, as when Macron explains that the withdrawal of operation “Barkhane” is a success.

Christian Chesnot: “The chaos in Libya is our own Iraq”

letelegramme Fr Trans

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.