06:25 GMT +322 July 2018
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    France Looks to the Levant and Beyond: Can Macron Manage the Middle East?

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    Andrew Korybko
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    French President Emmanuel Macron has surprisingly attempted to position Paris as a Middle East power broker, following his diplomatic intervention in the Lebanese-Saudi Crisis, although it's unclear whether this is a one-off attempt or a sign of a new regional strategy.

    The European leader recently traveled to the region for a meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, during which time he also made an 'impromptu' surprise visit to Saudi Arabia (which may have in fact been planned) for talks with the Kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, commonly known by his initials MBS. The contextual backdrop was that the young Saudi had just "drained the swamp" in what many described as a "deep state" coup, which had inexplicably caught Lebanese Prime Minister and dual Saudi citizen Saad Hariri in MBS' net.

    In an unprecedented move, Hariri resigned from his post while visiting the Kingdom on the day that MBS carried out his power play, and it was widely presumed that the Crown Prince pressured him to step down and might have even written his now-infamous resignation letter, after which the former Prime Minister was speculated to have been kept in the country against his will. Interestingly enough, Hariri is also a French citizen, which provided Macron with the pretext to suggest his relocation to the European country en route to his homeland, which eventually happened even though the two-time Lebanese leader left behind two of his children in Saudi Arabia in what some have gossiped might be a form of ‘collateral' to prevent him from doing anything ‘politically reckless'.

    Regardless of the admittedly important but still-unclear details associated with it, the indisputable fact remains that Macron was instrumental in ‘freeing' Hariri, which shows that France might be attempting to increase its regional profile in the Mideast. Lebanon is after all one of France's former colonies, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE are two of Paris' important arms clients. Macron's short presidency has already seen him craft a proactive strategy for its post-imperial West African realm, so it wouldn't be amiss for him to do something similar in the Mideast as well, especially when considering that France is already militarily active in the area as part of the US-led coalition against Daesh. As such, it's relevant to discuss whether Macron's rescue mission in saving Saad Hariri is a harbinger of a more robust regional policy.

    To discuss this in more detail we're joined by Vanessa Beeley, Independent investigative journalist and photographer, associate editor at 21st Century Wire, and Rui Octavio Dos Santo Vaz Perdiz, former war reporter from Angola from 1979-1995 who has been based in France since 1996.

    Want to sound off and share what you think about this? Send us an email at radio@sputniknews.com or find us on Facebook!

    Tags:
    crisis, Saad Hariri, Emmanuel Macron, Middle East, France
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