Following the August 4 blast which killed over 200 people and wounded thousands more, the irony was inescapable when Macron showed up in a bizarre display of “solidarity” on the streets of Beirut. Macron should have taken his roadshow to the streets of Paris, not Beirut, to reassure his own people, burdened by growing inequality, rising unemployment and socio-economic hardship.
However, the French show went on, but in the Middle East. It was a perfectly choreographed scene, engineered to be reminiscent of France’s bygone colonial grandeur. On August 6, Macron stood imperiously amidst the ruins of a massive Beirut explosion, promising aid, accountability and vowing to never abandon France’s former colony.
A young Lebanese woman approached the French President, tearfully imploring him “Mr. President, you’re on General Gouraud Street; he freed us from the Ottomans. Free us from the current authorities.”
It is unconvincing that all of this: the sudden visit, the pleas for help, the emotional crowd surrounding Macron, were all impromptu events to reflect Lebanon’s undying love and unconditional trust of France.
Macron could have easily assessed the damage caused by the devastating explosion at the Beirut port. If the thousands of images and endless video streams were insufficient to convey the unprecedented ruin created by the Hiroshima-like blast, satellite and aerial footage certainly would have.
But Macron did not come to Lebanon to offer sincere solidarity. He came, like a ‘good’ French politician would – to exploit the shock, panic and fear of a dumbstruck nation, while it is feeling betrayed by its own government, bewildered and alone.
Lebanon should be aware that its current tragedy is the perfect opportunity for its former colonial masters to stage a comeback, which would hardly save Lebanon and her people from their persisting calamity.
Macron’s bizarre and dangerous political act in the streets of Beirut should worry all Lebanese, at least those who truly care about their country.Hands off Lebanon: Macron’s Self-serving ‘New Pact’ Must Be Shunned