Chirac backs immediate ceasefire with no conditions

Jacques Chirac, whose political slush fund was financed by Rafiq Hariri for years, says he has a plan to save Lebanon in this Le Monde exclusive. (Why is Le Monde giving him this statesman role when they've been bashing him for months and at times want him to resign?) Doubt it will amount to much -- the French have abdicated too much on their Middle East policy to have real influence now -- but it's a positive step that European leaders are beginning to change tack.

He says it's not constructive to expect Hizbullah to be disarmed by an international peacekeeping force, and that it's something the Lebanese government, doesn't want to here about regime change in Damascus, calls for dialogue with Iran, calls for an immediate ceasefire and an international bail-out for Lebanon. He says: "It's a essential that there be a ceasefire. It's the precondition [for further negotiation on soldiers, disarmament, etc."

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,