On April 7th, just hours after Donald Trump had ordered an attack on the Syrian base of Al Shayrat, French Presidential candidate Jacques Cheminade met with Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the Baabda presidential palace, to discuss about “peace through development” for the whole region. Christine Bierre, in charge of this region for Cheminade’s movement, also attended the meeting.
Following a thirty minute meeting, Cheminade made the following remarks to the press gathered at the Presidential palace.
“I have come to Lebanon in the spirit of a Free Lebanon, over and above all political factions, as one should always consider such things in France, and to show the role Lebanon can play in the Middle East and in world affairs. For a long time now, in particular since February 1989, General Aoun has been very important in this respect because he has always shown great political courage in that respect and great independent mindedness, nurtured by his political courage.
“Today, I have come here to say that France must do everything to support the cause of Lebanon, and in particular to make sure that Europe and France contribute much more aid to the political and economic refugees coming to Lebanon and to those in Lebanon who receive the refugees and who sometimes live less well that they do. France must do all in her power to deal with that question. We know that there are between 2 and 2 ½ million refugees in Lebanon, for a population of 4,5 million inhabitants. We must absolutely do something to help Lebanon.
“The way to help in a decisive manner is to allow the refugees to return to their countries, in particular to Syria, and to create the conditions of peace in Syria, through economic development and reconstruction. We did this in France after World War II, with public credit and a commitment to the future. Today we need credit for the development of Syria so that the Syrians can go back to their country and live there. With time, and that time must as short as possible, that is the only way to establish peace through mutual development in the Near and Middle East.
“What happened today at dawn, the missiles shot from an American vessel against an important Syrian base is something that will no doubt worsen what is happening here. It was carried out before an international investigation into what really happened in Syria occurred, and it is a decision from President Trump that goes way beyond what Obama did in 2013, when Obama stopped before unleashing missiles.
“In my opinion, there has been, in a totally premature manner, a violation of the sovereignty of a nation by another one. I think this is very serious, it does not help in any way peace in the Near and Middle East, and we must very quickly, without losing time in useless debates, say that this intervention in the internal affairs of a State must stop and create the conditions for peace through mutual development in the future. From that standpoint, Lebanon and the Lebanon of General Aoun must play an absolutely fundamental role that France must recognize.”
In further media coverage during the day, Jacques Cheminade came back on the hypocrisy and cynicism of those in France and the Western camp who are calling for a coalition against Assad. “I am not for a coalition against Bachar Al Assad”, he said to the correspondent of the national all-business French media BFM TV, “but in favor of stabilizing the situation in Lebanon. Some preach and preach morality; the reality is that those doing the moralizing are the ones who organized the military intervention in Libya with the consequences we know, and who allow Yemen to be bombed by Saudi Arabia. They even give the Saudis more intelligence to be able to better bomb Yemen and after that, they give lessons on morality to the entire world. I find that to be of the utmost hypocrisy and cynicism.”
Cheminade also voiced his concern with the serious problems Lebanon is facing today due to the war against Syria. To a question by a Lebanese journalist following his presentation at Baabda, Cheminade answered that he talked with President Aoun “about pressing France and Europe for more help to urgently improve the sewer system currently in a catastrophic state due to the occupation by too many people, of a country of only 4 and one half million inhabitants. President Aoun said Europe had begun to help, but Cheminade said that aid must go much further, indicating that France’s world-class water companies should be brought in to contribute to solve those problems.
“Lebanon could become a powder keg”, he warned, in his interview to BFM TV, and for that reason “the refugees must be able to go back to Syria and the conditions created for them to do so, rather than creating dissensions and tensions through interventions like that of Trump”.
An article in the April 8th issue of the main Lebanese francophone daily L’Orient le Jour reported that Cheminade was in Lebanon to “to support a Free Lebanon (…) beyond its political divisions », pay homage to Aoun’s “political courage” and “independent mindedness” and call for more aid to Lebanon to solve its domestic difficulties due to the refugee crisis.
Lebanon is exemplary, he said, “because there have been all these family quarrels, with killings and murders; it’s almost Shakespearean, with the Hariris, the Geageas, the Frangiehs, the Gemayels, etc. But Aoun came and succeeded in creating unity among those people who thought towards the future of the country. It is that attitude that we must have throughout the whole region.”