BEIRUT: Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Thursday said that regardless of the economic and political crises the country might face, the security of the nation remains paramount. He described it as a “red line” and added that any attempt to interfere with it will not be tolerated.
His warning came during a speech at a military parade celebrating the 74th anniversary of the Lebanese Armed Forces and the graduation of 269 officer cadets from the Lebanese Military Academy.
Aoun said regardless of the crises that have emerged through the years, the Lebanese Army has always risen above personal interests and conflicts to protect the country.
He highlighted the “army’s achievements, where it liberated the northern and eastern outskirts from terrorism, and managed, along with the security forces, and through successful and preemptive operations, to eradicate most of the terrorist sleeper cells and block their movement.”
He added: “Such achievements require a high level of vigilance and wisdom to be maintained, and are completed by the army’s presence on our southern borders, keeping vigilant eyes on the presence of a lurking enemy that constantly violates international resolutions and charters.”
The president stressed the need to “establish national security and stability, for our security is a red line and no attempt to interfere with it will be tolerated.”
He added: “The Lebanese people deserve to live in security and to practice their rights freely and fearlessly in any of Lebanon’s regions.
“The economic risks are harsher and more dangerous, and they are the most serious threat facing Lebanon today.”
Lebanon is facing an economic crisis as a result of its high levels of public debt. Any international assistance is likely to be conditional on the implementation of radical economic reforms to reduce the debt.
“Interim sacrifice is needed on part of all the Lebanese, with no exception, in order for the rescue process to succeed,” said Aoun. “If we do not all make a sacrifice today and accept to waive some of our benefits, we are running the risk of losing them all when our country comes to the table of international lending institutions, with all the tough economic and financial schemes that they may impose on us.
“Crises are known to put people to a real test, and I am fully confident of the Lebanese people’s pure nature and their capacity to face the reality with determination and rise from setbacks.”
In addition to the economic problems the country is facing, there has been concern lately of growing sectarian divides in Lebanese politics.
“No good can come from reviving the rhetoric and practices of the past, provoking sensitive matters and contesting the will of coexistence and its requirements, as declared by Taif Agreement (which ended the Lebanese Civil War),” said Aoun. “Every practice of this sort, whether in politics or in the administration, harms national life and threatens to slow down the course of growth and the way of breaking free of the current crisis cycle, and therefore it must immediately stop.
“The Taif Agreement, to which I committed in my inaugural oath, and to which the government has committed in its ministerial declaration, represents an umbrella for us to protect the National Pact, by preserving the rights of all and ensuring balance among the various segments and components of society. Therefore, no practice or stance can contradict its core.”
UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis congratulated the army on its anniversary and stressed “the UN and the international community’s commitment to continue supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces, whether through the International Support Group for Lebanon and other coordination mechanisms, or through bilateral agreements with donor countries.”
He welcomed the efforts of the army “as a pivotal and efficient tool ensuring the Lebanese state’s authority, through their deployment along the northern and eastern borders and, gradually, in the South.”
Kubis also highlighted “the professional coordination between LAF and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon in the South, that was discussed during the latest UN Security Council meeting, encouraging further steps to ensure the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 (intended to resolve the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict) in its entirety.”
The graduating class at Thursday’s military parade, which took place at the Shukri Ghanem barracks in Fayadyeh, included 166 army officers, 90 Internal Security Forces members, 11 General Security members and two customs officers.