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Pierre Vallaud: "Democracy has not succeeded in the South and East of the Mediterranean"


As a specialist in contemporary history, historian Pierre Vallaud gives econostrum.info an exclusive look at the current geopolitical situation in the Mediterranean during the Entretiens d'Euromed-IHEDN in Marseille on Tuesday 14 September 2021. He admits his lack of optimism regarding the resolution of the main conflicts that are distancing this region from its goal of a common destiny.



Pierre Vallaud remains unoptimistic about the resolution of the Mediterranean hotspots (photo: F.Dubessy)
Pierre Vallaud remains unoptimistic about the resolution of the Mediterranean hotspots (photo: F.Dubessy)
econostrum.info: What do you think of what could be called the "constitutional coup" in Tunisia? Is President Kaïs Saïed going in the right direction?

Pierre Vallaud: A coup d'état never goes in the right direction!

Is this takeover on July 25, 2021 really a coup?

P.V.: Yes, yes, when you have legally elected people who do not go in the same direction as you, and you decide to suspend the legality, it is a coup d'état. Or in any case, a coup de force. As Kais Said is a constitutionalist, he has managed to make this look like something that fits into the constitution.

At the same time, he announces that he wants to modify it?

P.V.: It's not by chance that he says he will change the constitution. But we don't know what he wants to do with it. To consider today that the majority is wrong, and that it is now the old majority, because of the erosion of Ennahdah, means that he wants a new majority. But then let him hold elections! Tunisia was the model after the Arab revolutions. Many people, including those I know and who cannot be suspected of wanting a dictatorship, are quite happy because the victim is Ennahdah.

"I see a retreat of political Islam"

Where is political Islam in the region?

P.V.: On the southern shore, since June I see a decline of political Islam. In Tunisia with the arrival of Kaïs Saïed who disturbed them, because he is an extremely pretentious and very rigid man. Let's note that 48 hours before his coup, the Tunisian president went to Cairo. An axis of all those who fight against the Muslim Brotherhood and its successors is thus emerging.
In Algeria, the Islamist party MSP (Movement of Society for Peace) has been rejected by the current government even though it represents the second political force in the country. In Morocco, the legislative elections saw the victory of the King's party (RNI - National Rally of Independents) and the PJD (Justice and Development Party) went from 125 seats to 13.

Democracy had been confiscated by political Islam and we are now witnessing, in response, a return of strong powers. So democracy has not yet been achieved.

What do you think of the recent Morocco-Algeria crisis? Have we reached a new stage?

P.V.: They broke off diplomatic relations? But what relations did they have before? This story of support to the Polisario Front is as old as the independence of Morocco. In my opinion, this declaration is for internal use. When things aren't going well at home, you have to have a common enemy.

"Lebanon is the receptacle of all the contradictions in the region"

For Pierre Vallaud, Lebanon is in a desperate situation (photo: F.Dubessy)
For Pierre Vallaud, Lebanon is in a desperate situation (photo: F.Dubessy)
Will Lebanon finally find a way out with its new government?

P.V.: Certainly not! Chaos, confusion, lack of perspectives, I am desperate for Lebanon. It is in a very serious situation. The problem, it's true in all dictatorships and corrupt countries like that, is to find a political alternative with people constituting political parties. Today this does not exist. Despite many people of good will, and God knows that the Lebanese are capable of doing absolutely extraordinary things. But, for the moment, there is no constituted alternative. We can't say that Mr. So-and-so with this political party will take over the presidency. This also implies a reform, because the President is still a Maronite Christian, the President of the Shiite Parliament, the Head of the Sunni government.

Yet, President Michel Aoun indicated a year ago that this confessional system had to be put to an end?

P.V. : Yes, and the demonstrators in the street are demanding to abandon this confessional system that is so absurd. As long as there is this straitjacket, nothing will be possible. The new government is a carbon copy of the previous ones: one third Christians, one third Shiites and one third Sunnis. It is still the same people in power.
This country is a receptacle of all the contradictions of the region, but also of all the contradictions of the Lebanese. The Lebanese state is at the origin of everything with its confessional and feudal structure. And the Lebanese are the victims. Most of the political parties are false noses of this religion and also of that family.
 

"I don't see what could make me optimistic!"

The conference marked the beginning of the 2021/2022 cycle of events organised by Jean-François Cousitillière's IHEDN-Euroméditerranée association, here on the right (photo: F.Dubessy)
The conference marked the beginning of the 2021/2022 cycle of events organised by Jean-François Cousitillière's IHEDN-Euroméditerranée association, here on the right (photo: F.Dubessy)
What do you think of the brand new Israeli plan for Gaza that has just been announced by the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs?

P.V.: It's the carrot and the stick! If you are very nice, we will rebuild your power lines and roads, but as soon as you deviate, we will stop and hit you harder.

Will it ever work?

P.V.: No, it won't work! Especially as Hamas is waiting for that. Their raison d'être is to hit. The day it doesn't, there is no more Hamas.

So there is no other solution?

P.V. : No more. But here again, the people in power don't want any solutions. From conflict to conflict, the situation is getting worse. The colonisation has mutilated the Palestinian territory and makes the two-state solution more and more unlikely.

With all this, I hardly dare to ask you about the common destiny of the Mediterranean?

P.V.: It is a de facto destiny. We are Mediterranean whether we like it or not. It is necessary that all the people of good will try to militate so that all these dysfunctions, of which I have just spoken, if they do not cease, are brought to a reduction. But it's a question of decades and decades.

So you are not optimistic about a resolution of some of these hot spots?

P.V.: For the moment, no, absolutely not. I don't see what could make me optimistic! The only "reasonable" power that could intervene is the European Union. And it is divided in relation to the Mediterranean and also in its actions to be taken in the framework of diplomacy or defence.

Frédéric Dubessy


Thursday, September 16th 2021



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