The relationship between France and Lebanon throughout history and its impact on the French protectorate


Prepared by: Mohsen Al-Koumi – The Arab Democratic Center

  • Does France deal with Lebanon as a protector of the Maronites as it was before, or does Lebanon have its share in the colonial legacy?

Summary :

Lebanon is that authentic Arab country with a small area and which is accompanied by a large concern despite its small population and small area. Lebanon recorded a rapidly changing history to the extent that it is difficult for any researcher to monitor it in all its details, which was characterized by the speed of events and the permanence of change, so far from the multiplicity of stripes or the sectarian map and its impact on Lebanon, the research tends to monitor the extent of the relationship between France and Lebanon, how it arose, and what it led to. The French government is still eager to complete its protection for the Maronites, its first colonial outcome, which has never forgotten its components and capabilities, but on the contrary, its passion for it increases day after day, which was under its mandate for a recent era, And in view of the state of affairs in Lebanon, especially after the recent incident “the bombings of the port of Lebanon” and the implications of the French interest in the situation, which was a reason for some doubts about the interpretation of the French tendency, which Macron weaved when he appeared in classical Arabic for his condolences and appreciation for the situation in Lebanon, but visited him in less than 24 hours from The incident and his call to hold a hypothetical conference to support Lebanon, since it is not the first time that a French president rushes to Lebanon’s aid, so will France renew the ambitions of an old legacy? Or is it a previous lifetime friendship ?? France plays a fundamental role in the Lebanon file, as it harmonizes with the Christian Lebanese mood and protects its beliefs, as it was the first to use the word “Greater Lebanon”.

Introduction :

The bombings at the port of Lebanon aroused deep sadness in the hearts of the Arabs, as they are an integral part of the formation of our single Arab web, and in light of these bloody events in the “kiss of printing and publishing houses” as I like to call it always, the gift of the President of France, “Emmanuel Macron”, occupied me to visit Lebanon in less than 24 hours after the accident, it was not strange, but rather a “natural step” given France’s treatment of Lebanon as if it was part of the “real share” in the countries of the East.

France is that “compassionate mother” as some call it in Beirut, and others consider it a disgrace that haunts the Lebanese. It is always quick to show itself regarding Lebanon’s positions, and this raises permanent questions, and what is striking recently is the visit of French President “Emmanuel Macron” and his close follow-up to the event. In the middle of the street, as if he is investigating what matters have come to him, and even more bizarre, some Arab newspapers have commented on his visit by saying President Macron is inspecting the effects of the destruction left by the Beirut port bombing, as if it is talking about one of the Lebanese government officials. Questions arose from one friend to another and from one follower to another. The degree of sadness that the French have ?? And why did the Eiffel Tower turn off its lights immediately after the accident, and when it welcomes Macron like this on the Beirut street in general?

Research problem:

The discussion revolves around a discussion of a fundamental problem, which is the extent of the French-Lebanese relationship, and how the clear rapprochement between the Lebanese and France on the one hand, and the tendency of some to Arab nationalism, and this will be evident through the answer to what is presented and what are the French motives behind its donation towards the misfortunes and problems of Lebanon?

Research hypotheses :

The research discusses several hypotheses seeking to answer the main research problem, which is the extent of the French-Lebanese relationship. The research assumed several hypotheses, including:

  • Evidence of the colonial race of Britain and France in the Levant
  • The impact of French history in the interference in the Lebanese affairs.
  • The genes of the ancient French savior garrison were replenished in the blood of Macron and his court.
  • The French race to be in Lebanon before the rest.
  • French Christian rapprochement from inside Lebanon and its effects.

Research Methodology:

  • The research used the historical method to quickly monitor the different facts and events starting from before Christ until the present time.
  • The research also relied on the method of inference and drawing conclusions by presenting the history of the ancient French interventions, being the first country to extend its hand to the Maronites in Lebanon and consider it their protector.

research aims :

The research seeks several main objectives, which it tries to prove, namely:

  • Proof of French interventions
  • Demonstrate the relationship of the Maronites with France and its effect on the rise of sectarianism
  • Show the Anglo-French conflict and its effect on fueling sectarianism in Lebanon
  • Clarification of the course of sectarianism and its impact on the current Lebanese problems.

Search Plan :

  • The first topic: implications of Marcon’s visit
  • The second topic: the history of French-Lebanese relations
  • The third topic: the history of sectarian conflict in Lebanon.
  • The fourth topic: Lebanon is the station of the historic French leaders

First, the first topic: the implications of Marcon’s visit

Amidst a state of joy and happiness among some Lebanese with the arrival of their savior, “Macron”, with whom they dream of pulling Lebanon out of its conditions, and launching a campaign calling for a speedy rescue. ?

Marcon’s visit was not so easy, especially as it brought about pain that burned the hearts of all in Lebanon and beyond. Macron went to Beirut. Some greeted him with the hero and demanded that he “save” them from the situation that descended into an abyss caused by the huge explosion, the largest in Beirut’s history, which resulted in the displacement of nearly 300 A thousand, in addition to the wounded and the dead. On the economic side, the losses are estimated at about $ 15 billion, while the country is moaning from an economic collapse that has been struggling for some time. Tens of thousands of people called for the importance of returning to the French mandate and signed, within hours, a petition calling for his return again, which was accompanied by some circulating a “majestic” picture of Macron accompanied by the phrase “Come and the mandate is with you[1].”

The variation in reactions continued after this visit, especially as it indicated that Macron would go to the street and join the masses in a step described as daring, being in the middle of the event and close to it, while a single Lebanese politician could not do it at the height of the crisis, and Macron embodied feelings of sadness diplomatically and wore A black neck tie on Lebanon While the president of Lebanon himself, “General Michel Aoun,” when he received Macron at the airport, he wore a light blue tie, which angered some. Aoun appeared in the picture following Macron as if he was afraid of the latter’s accountability regarding the incident, perhaps because the “Aoun” party He established himself in Paris, which the latter provided him with all the ingredients to be its representative inside Lebanon, but the results and reforms were disappointing, and as for comments by some about Macron’s visit, inside the French, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the French rebel party, criticized Macron’s visit, and considered it political interference in Lebanese affairs. He stressed, “I beware of political interference in Lebanon.”

After the visit ended, tweets supported by many, including art stars, followed, so the Lebanese artist Elissa sent a message through her Twitter account, saying: “Thank you Emmanuel Macron for France’s support to Lebanon. We are a country torn by corruption first and foremost, and we trust you. You know well what we are going through. [2]()

In another French direction, the French foreign minister stated, “Le Drian” (Lebanon and the Lebanese know that they can count on France in difficult hours, “referring to France’s role)

Secondly, the second topic: the history of French-Lebanese relations

In order to reach the roots and the nature of the French-Lebanese relations, we had to search in the corridors of history to reach the relationship in a quick and brief review, fearing the boredom of the honorable reader.

During the Egyptians’ pursuit of the Hyksos during the era of the modern Pharaonic state in Egypt, Thutmose III annexed the Egyptian sovereignty to the entire eastern coast of the Mediterranean, in addition to the Phoenician cities, establishing the first empire in history extending from Turkey in the north to Somalia in the south, Iraq in the east, and Libya in the west.[3]After that, the Phoenicians occupied Syria and Lebanon for a period of time not a few, and in 64 BC the Romans replaced the Greeks in Lebanon and the surrounding countries, and who remained there until the year 636 AD, and with the spread of Christianity from the first century AD onwards, along the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea And beyond. Syria and Lebanon were among the first countries to convert to Christianity. At first, the Roman Empire did not care about the Christians or tolerated them, then it was forced to persecute them, and at the end it moved to recognize them.

Aside from the Islamic history of Lebanon:

After the conquest of Lebanon, which was called “the coasts of the Levant previously” during the era of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, and it was the share of Damascus after the division of Umar, where he divided the Levant into four military regions (Damascus, Homs, Jordan and Palestine) and Lebanon belonged to Damascus, where al-Maqdisi says (Beirut is one of the cities of Damascus The distance between Damascus and Beirut is a two-day walk) and it was under the jurisdiction of Yazid bin Abi Sufyan, who died after the plague “Emwas”, which killed 25,000 Muslims, on top of them Abu Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah, Yazid bin Abi Sufyan and Sharbeel bin Hasna, in the year 18 AH, after which it moved to the state Muawiyah, and it had a very large role like all coastal cities in the maritime invasions led by the Muslims in the Mediterranean and it was a landing point for the bonds of the great companions and followers, and Abi Al-Darda was on top of them being the first to come to Rabat in Lebanon, where he landed in Beirut immediately after its conquest, as it was a site for the bond of the Companions in the era of Omar When Salman came and asked the people of Damascus about Abu Al-Darda ‘, they told him that he is with his ties, so he asked where? They said in Beirut so he went out and connected with him

After the Islamic stability in Lebanon, and throughout this period, no relationship was established between France and Lebanon, but the features of the relationship b[4]egan through the “Maronites,” so Louis IX was the first to extend French aid to them, as he was their first French friend, as a delegation of fifteen thousand walked to him. A Maronite with supplies and gifts when he came to mainland in Acre, and on this occasion he delivered to them a letter dated 5/21/1250 AD in which a statement that France pledged to protect them stated: “We are convinced that this nation known as Saint Maroun is part of the French nation.” .[5]The Maronites occupied a prominent place among the Crusaders as the best Christian sect. In 1535, a Franco-Ottoman treaty was concluded in which France granted privileges in the Levant and at the heart of it was Lebano[6]n, and with this treaty France extracted the right to protect the Catholics in Lebanon. The French protection was consolidated following a pledge by Louis XIV in 1649 regarding the protection of the Maronite Church and all its denominations, and this came in a response to the Patriarch: “Let it be known that we place under our protection and our care the Christian Maronite Patriarch, parishes and clergy, who live and work in Mount Lebanon.”

Later French kings renewed this pledge until, in the eighteenth century, they established its rules.

And considering France the most powerful Catholic country in Europe, as it is the first modern country to be recognized by the Church, and that is why France was called “the eldest daughter of the Church.” This eldest daughter took sides and considered herself the protector of the Maronites, especially in Lebanon. On the decline of the region and in Napoleon’s campaigns and his move from Egypt to the Levant, the Maronites rushed to help him, and he disagreed with them as usual in that Druze. This sympathy from the West with the Maronites continued in the following generations, and in these times the rebellion rose and the disagreement increased inside Lebanon and the external political forces played a dangerous role in 1840 M, which resulted in mobilization and stirring up disagreement between the different sects, and in the year 1860 France intervened directly to protect the Maronites with a major military campaign, during the bloody sectarian confrontations between the Druze and the Maronites in Mount Lebanon, and after the First World War and with the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, the victorious countries recognized France’s right to take Lebanon A share for it, after dividing the legacy of the empire in the region between the French and British colonialists, according to the agreement of S. Aix-Picot, and a French sq[7]uad was sent after the First World War to occupy Lebanon in 2018, which with his arrival announced Greater Lebanon, which made the Christians much happier, after it remained since 1516 AD belonging to the Ottoman Caliphate, as it was until 1864 composed of two administrative regions, north of the state of Tripoli and a southern subordinate. The state of Sidon and the two were abolished and replaced by the state of Beirut. [8]In March 1943, France distributed seats in the Lebanese parliament in a ratio of six to five in favor of the Christians. This was subsequently expanded to include other public offices. The president had to be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of Parliament a Shi’a Muslim.[9]In January 1944, France agreed to transfer power to the Lebanese government, thereby granting the region independence.

Third, the third topic: the history of sectarian conflict in Lebanon

They formed the missionary and cultural missionaries and foreign schools, which France and others sought to form as they made loyalty, first, to the sect, and not to the homeland! Then for this or that colonial state. Likewise, sectarian national educational institutions, most of which received foreign aid, and to which teaching teachers were sent, as well. And her students were applying for foreign certificates. The vast majority of them were Christian, estimated at about 650 schools in 1900, distributed as follows: 120 Islamic schools, one Druze school, and the rest were Christian schools (Maronite – Orthodox – Royal – Protestant).

Cultural penetration, through missionaries, was one of the aspects of colonialism. It led to the establishment of sectarianism and its consolidation in the social structure, until it became a belief that has followers and defenders in associations, parties and organizations, but it has philosophers, who justify it and attribute[10] it to the existence of Lebanon, and France formed the largest base of these missionaries and the largest school base in Lebanon, and perhaps this is due to the spread of French language as the official language after Arabic there.

But the year 1860 remains the year of the French transformation in Lebanon, as the moral protection has transformed into an explicit French protection, following the descent of French forces consisting of six thousand French soldiers in support of the Maronites, cutting the line of return to England and exploiting the weakness of the Ottoman state at the time under the pretext of protecting Maronites and Christians, against Druze and Muslims. . Which had an effective and powerful effect in the sequence of events after that, to begin in 1861, to be one of the heavy years witnessing the strife and turmoil between the Maronites and the Druze. As a result of these di[11]sturbances, eighteen Druze and a hundred “Maronite” Christians were killed. As the colonialists’ habit of fueling the dispute and raising its intensity, Britain supported the Druze. It provided them with weapons, and even educated the sons of the Druze tribal sheikhs in the British institutes, while France [12]is still practicing support for the Maronites, and this is what cut the line of return and cut off the hope of bridging the gap between the Druze and the Maronites. Within the French interior, interest in the Syrian and Lebanese issues increased, and this was accompanied by propaganda campaigns to support the influence The French in the Orient. The statements of French politicians, especially the speech of the Prime Minister, Raymond Poincaré, before the French Senate, came to prove to the Lebanese Christians that France is paving the way for the occupation of Syria and Lebanon. This prompted the Maronites to urge, publicly and secretly, to expedite the occupation of Lebanon and establish a Christian state in it, under French protection. And they worked to convince other Christians of it, especially the reluctant Greek Orthodox. Many Lebanese Christians now see themselves as part of a nation that calls for an independent state, a minority, that demands self-rule and foreign protection.  As a result of this strife and turmoil, a new regime was formed that separated Lebanon from Syria and was brought under the control of a Christian rule appointed by the Ottoman Sultan with the approval of the European powers, and assisted by an administrative council consisting of twelve members from different religious sects in Lebanon, and with this the division remained In Lebanon, the master of the situation where England comes to the aid of the Druze, while France is in support of the Christians. This situation continued in this way, which aroused some boredom to the extent that one of the leaders of Lebanon in his letter to his friend monitored what he wrote (Our affairs have become these days dependent on England and France And that if someone hits his companion, the issue will become English and French, and maybe England and France will rise for a cup of coffee that is spilled on the ground[13]).

Civil war

The thirteenth of April 1975 is the saddest day in the contemporary history of Lebanon, as the first spark of the Lebanese civil war began, which quickly spread throughout the entire Lebanese territory, expecting more than 150,000 dead over fifteen years and 20,000 missing in addition to the displacement and displacement of hundreds of thousands, far from The reasons for the outbreak of the war, which resulted in a sharp split in Lebanon and the emergence of an armed militia that outnumbered the original number of the Lebanese people themselves, and after that the differences from different factions turned into differences within one faction and this called for international intervention in Lebanon.

France Abandoned Old Friend During Civil War:

France had no role in ending the ongoing conflict in Lebanon, nor did it provide the least effort to the old friend to save it from its stagnation and deadly conflicts, nor any attempt to end the civil war in Lebanon. France did not have any roles mentioned in concluding the “Taif” agreement, which was held on September 30, 1989 in the city of Taif, In an effort to stop the escalating bleeding and end this Lebanese civil war, which greatly contributed to ending the ongoing conflicts there and stopping the continuous bloodshed for fifteen years, the agreement concluded with several basic principles, the most prominent of which was the unity of the Lebanese people, the abolition of political sectarianism and the division of Parliament seats equally between Christians and Muslims As for the distribution of powers, it was concluded that the president of the state is from the Christian community and the prime minister is a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament is a Shiite Muslim, and everyone agreed to extend state sovereignty over all Lebanese lands and that all factions must hand over their weapons to the state within six months from the date of signature The National Charter and the election of the Head of State, by looking at the map of political life, especially the parliamentary one, which is characterized by sectarian and ethnic life in Lebanon since its inception. The number of licensed parties in the country is close to 80, despite the relatively small population, which in most estimates does not exceed 7 million people. This is accompanied by a narrow geographical area where the area of Lebanon does not exceed 11 thousand km2. Returning to the formation of the parties in Lebanon, we find that The Christian bloc is the largest party bloc with 18 parties, the most famous of them being the “Free Patriotic Movement” which was founded in France “Perhaps this illustrates the impact of French-Lebanese relations.” It is headed by the current president, Michel Aoun, and despite the party’s newness as it was formally established in 2005 ″ but it has 29 seats represented in Parliament from Overall 128

Fourth, the fourth topic: Lebanon, the station of the historic French leaders   

The research has shown that the history of the French rulers with Lebanon is old since Louis IX, and that this relationship between the presidents of France and Beirut has not been cut off from the date of the French-Lebanese rapprochement until the modern era. The French of Lebanese origins or as a demonstration of their strength in asserting that Lebanon is a boycott of Paris, or assuring them that they are following the path of their colonial ancestors to satisfy the French voter, so between the beginning of the nineties and until the year 2004, France moved from a position of emotional and moral motherhood with Christians to participatory pragmatism. Personal “financial benefit” due to its desire to distribute shares and shares, so that France returns to the East from its distinctive Lebanese gate, taking a different path than the one I had previously known, so it turns from sponsoring the “Christian paper” to the economic issue, and the trade movement between the two countries continued to grow to record in 2016 the total trade between them. 934 million euros, as France is one of the main trading partners of Lebanon and exports more than 4,500 French companies to Lebanon. 2015 The total of French direct investments in Lebanon amounted to 534 million euros, as nearly a hundred French companies operate in Lebanon in various sectors such as agriculture, telecommunications, retail trade, petroleum industry and financial services.[14]

Accordingly, Macron’s quick visit to Lebanon immediately after the accident was not surprising in the midst of French-Lebanese history, as we find Jacques Chirac hastened to visit France in 2005, and during his term Chirac sponsored the Paris 1 and 2 conferences in 2001 and Paris 3 in 2007 to support Lebanon economically, and he succeeded in collecting billions of dollars from Do[15]nors () French support did not stop until the era of Chirac, but continued to extend according to the presidential agenda of all French rulers, so we find Sarkozy in 2008 heading to Lebanon at the head of a high-level delegation, shortly after his election as President of France, and in 2018 a “CEDRE” conference was held to support Lebanon was invited and hosted by France, whose total loans, grants and donations amounted to more than 11 billion dollars, which most probably did not succeed in extricating Lebanon from its crises until the port events came to complicate matters above the heads of the Lebanese people.

After a quick review of the historical features of the French-Lebanese relations and their most prominent stations, the research concludes:


  • Sectarianism, the fatal crisis of Lebanon
  • French trends do not stop towards Lebanon and the Levant
  • The clear impact of the Maronites in the history of the French relationship
  • Lebanon is the historical shrine of the rulers of France
  • The transition of French-Lebanese relations from a stage of patronage to the Christian community to the pragmatic role of France
  • The emergence of the historical impact of England and France on sectarianism in Lebanon


  • The necessity of sincere Arab arbitration between the Lebanese sects and building on the outcomes of the Taif Agreement
  • Continuing the permanent Arab lead in support of the Lebanese people
  • The necessity of a united Arab presence with the Lebanese street
  • The Arab League’s follow-up to the Lebanese support conferences and working to develop them
  • Monitoring the reconstruction operations inside Lebanon by the support conference committees

Conclusion :

After the historical review of the relationship between Lebanon and France and after an attempt to uncover the French and English role in fueling sectarian strife and also France abandoning its old friend and leaving her in the wind of a fatal war that has claimed thousands of lives, the Lebanese factions must understand the meaning of peaceful coexistence and the desire for public benefit and exclusion of individualism, and turn to Heal the rift between them and to prevail over the interest of Lebanon being above all, God bless Lebanon and all of our Arab countries.

[1]BBC Arabic, Beirut Blast: Implications for Macron’s Visit, 7/8/2020

[2](The website of the seventh day, Thursday, Lebanese stars support Macron after his visit to Beirut and warn him against the corrupt elite 8/6/2020


History of Egypt from the Earliest Time to the Persian Conquest, James Henry Breasted, p. 216, republished 2003,

[4]In reference to the Maronites, a sect of Eastern Catholic Christians who are in constant conflict with the Orthodox Christians, and who went to the Church in Rome and remained subordinate to it, and the Maronites chose northern Lebanon after their arbitration of Muawiyah bin Abi Sufyan to separate their dispute with the Jacobins in 659 AD

[5]Site Hunting Benefits, World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Maronite,

   [6]The History of Modern Lebanon, Kamal Al-Salib, p. 41)

[7]BBC Arabic, Beirut Blast: Why France’s “Affectionate Mother” comes to Lebanon’s aid, 7/8/2020

[8]Modern History of Lebanon, Kamal Al-Salibi, p. 11, An-Nahar Publishing House, seventh edition, 1991

[9]BBC News, Lebanon profile – Timeline, 25/4/2018

[10]Dimensions of the historical relationship between France and the Maronites of Lebanon, Ya Beirut site

[11]The Druze movement: The Druze movement began to crystallize with the rule of the sixth Fatimid caliph, who was the ruler, God’s command, between 996 and 1021 CE and it descended from the Ismaili movement, from which they later split. The Druze movement was characterized by a lot of ambiguity, which made researchers confused in describing its matter. They themselves believe that there are sciences that only the salvation of their scholars knows, and they see that all the unified Abrahamic religions are connected to God, and therefore the change of religion from Islam to Christianity or vice versa, or from Druze to another Abrahamic religion is for a secular purpose and to gain money according to their opinion.

[12]Previous reference, p.92

[13]General History of Lebanon, Youssef Mizher, p. 604

[14](Présentation du Liban) in French August 28, 2018 at the Wayback Machine website.

[15]Previous reference: Why France’s “compassionate mother” would come to Lebanon’s aid

SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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