Analysts say that the French president is trying to take advantage of instability in Lebanon to help advance its own interests in the region.

France is upping its involvement in Lebanon in the aftermath of the Beirut explosion in what could be another front in its campaign to target Turkey's interests in the region, according to analysts.

There are reports that the French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to Beirut may have been far from altruistic, with politicians' leaning' towards giving France the tender to rebuild the country's principal port with backing from the United Arab Emirates. Such a move would give both countries further access to the Eastern Mediterranean.

"I believe the French proposal is probably backed from behind the scenes by the UAE and has a green light at the same time from Iran and Hezbollah," says Dr Ali Bakeer, a Middle East analyst.

It is not yet clear whether Lebanon would have to incur yet more debt for the port to be built, but some have questioned whether Lebanese politicians are attempting to curry favour with France in a bid to hold on to power by selling the nation's assets.

"Such a proposal would put Lebanon in the eye of a regional geopolitical competition, revive Iran's influence, and confirm the impression that France is working as a foreign policy subcontractor for some of the most notorious regimes in the region," added Bakeer speaking to TRT World.

Taking advantage of the devastation of the huge blast on August 4, Macron appears to be jockeying for influence in the Levantine state alongside its allies, Russia and the UAE.

After landing in Beirut last week, Macron convinced several senior Lebanese politicians not to resign from their posts according to local sources, even as public outrage was growing against politicians. He apparently told them to wait until he came back in September.

The tidal wave of public anger, however, was too great, and unable to withstand pressure until Macron's triumphal return, Lebanon's cabinet succumbed to public demands and resigned earlier this week.

France and the UAE have cooperated closely in the Libyan theatre by providing support for warlord Haftar. A deep antipathy towards Turkey has also united them. Macron has also held conversations with his Iranian counterpart, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, seeking his cooperation in rebuilding Lebanon.

More recently, the UAE has sought to bolster its relations with Iran even as the two countries find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict in Yemen.

Any potential entrance by the UAE into Lebanon would come at the expense of Saudi Arabia's influence.

"Given that Riyadh seems to be sidelined now, and Abu Dhabi is increasing its indirect cooperation with Iran in several regional theatres, that could irritate Saudi Arabia and increase the gap between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi," warns Bakeer.

The Emiratis are banking that "influence" over the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will not "result in a serious conflict even if this meant a closer UAE-Iran relation" added Bakeer.

France also sees Lebanon, a country it formerly colonised between 1920 and 1946, as part of its sphere of influence.

"Its regional adventures should be monitored closely as it is obviously exacerbating the conflicts, deepening the polarisation, and fueling the regional instability," says Bakeer

Beirut based reacher and author Denijal Jegic argues that "Macron’s interference in Lebanon needs to be viewed critically through France’s imperialist and colonialist tendencies."

"France is a defeated colonial empire that is attempting to expand its influence throughout the Mediterranean and its former colonies," warned Jegic, speaking to TRT World.

Mediterranean deployments

The interference in Lebanon comes concurrent with Macron's announcement of the deployment of the French navy to the Eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey is exploring potential energy deposits in its Exclusive Economic Zone.

Such a move has the potential to add to tensions in the region.

"French intervention is provocative with regard to a call for EU military buildup in the Eastern Meditteranean," warned retired Turkish Admiral Cem Gurdeniz, now working as the Director of the Maritime Forum at Istanbul's Koc University.

"France should have urged Greece to curb its limitless and irrational maritime claims, but instead France is using this crisis to undermine Turkey in the Mediterranean strategic theatre from Libya to Cyprus from Lebanon to Greece," added Gurdeniz speaking to TRT World.

Macron's animosity towards Turkey is clearly on display in the Libyan theatre. France has arguably been the sole European Union supporter of the renegade warlord Khalifa Haftar, who has been seeking to overthrow the UN recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Turkey's intervention in Libya at the invitation of the GNA earlier this year, and its success in turning the tide against Haftar, has enraged Paris.

Ankara's additional successful conclusion of an agreement with the Tripoli government that delineated both countries' continental shelf, has only further antagonised France, which has seen its influence in Libya wane. The French government has sought to "blame Turkey" for its perceived failures.

Macron's tweets came despite the Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar called for all parties in the Eastern Meditteranean to return to the negotiating table.

"We want to reach political solutions through peaceful means in line with international laws," Akar said, adding: "Despite all this, we want to believe that common sense will prevail. Both on the field and at the table, we side with international law, good neighbourliness and dialogue."

Gurdeniz warned that French "threats against Turkey will not work" and if it continues "it would trigger not only the dissolution of NATO but fractures within the EU."

More recently France has deployed fighter planes in the Greek Cypriot administered region, a move that Gurdeniz describes as a "violation of international law".

The security of Cyprus is governed by the Treaty of Guarantee, signed in 1959 between Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

"There are only three guarantors in Cyprus, France is not a guarantor, and therefore their existence in Cyprus is illegal," added Gurdeniz.

Source: TRT World