Lebanese military forces prepare for possible chaos

Lebanese military forces prepare for possible chaos
Lebanese General Security forces female cadets take part in a military parade for Independence Day celebrations marking 75 years in Beirut. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 12 June 2021

Lebanese military forces prepare for possible chaos

Lebanese military forces prepare for possible chaos
  • Source says army will exercise role assigned to it, with no end in sight to political impasse
  • France organizing conference ‘to mobilize support from international community for army’

BEIRUT: France is organizing a virtual conference next Thursday “to mobilize support from the international community for the Lebanese army,” following an official visit to France from Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun at the end of May.

Aoun met with French President Emmanuel Macron and discussed “providing urgent food and medical aid to the security forces in the hope of maintaining law and order.”

The US and Lebanon also held a conference at the end of May, with Washington renewing its commitment to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) by increasing its its military aid by $15 million, reaching a total of $120 million in the fiscal year 2021.

“We have a permanent military aid program with the US, but we do not need weapons right now. We need in-kind aid for the army,” a military source stressed.

These developments take place as external warnings continue about the possibility of chaos prevailing in Lebanon, as the economic and social situation hits rock bottom.

Foreign observers fear that security forces may not be able to prevent unrest that may prove more violent than the protests of 2019 and 2020.

Political bickering continues, and the caretaker government has refrained from performing any role that its head, Hassan Diab, considers to be in violation of the constitution.

A military source told Arab News the political conflicts “affected the morale of the army and other security forces.” However, the source stressed theys had been successful in dealing with protest movements so far.




Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun. (AFP file photo)

The source added: “It is true that the army is suffering and understands what the people are feeling, but its priority is to protect civil peace and stability; harming civil peace is crossing a red line.

“The military institution has no new plan to prevent chaos if it occurs, so it will exercise the role assigned to it.”

Gen. Aoun, meanwhile, has addressed letters to the commanders of neighboring friendly Arab militaries requesting aid for the Lebanese army, specifically food and medical supplies.

“Some have responded, including Iraq, which has allocated $3 million to purchase these materials,” the source added.

The Ministry of Defense and the LAF were also recently forced to deny rumors of desertions. “Those who tried to escape from the army returned because it offers them social guarantees that are not available elsewhere,” the military source noted.

The rate of theft in Lebanon increased by 144 percent during January and February 2021 with items including sewage drain covers, iron road dividers, electricity cables and iron poles, iron doors from cemeteries, and even baby formula being taken.

Security forces have warned of “the seriousness of the situation, and the possibility of the country’s social security crumbling.”

The difficult situation facing the country was encapsulated by a video that went viral on social media earlier this year showing a father who had taken to the streets to protest faced with his son — a soldier deployed to confront protesters. The cameras captured the father embracing his son and crying, while the son was left torn between commitment to his orders and loyalty to his father.

In a speech on March 8, Gen. Aoun spoke out against “the growing feelings of resentment in the ranks of the Lebanese military and security services after the value of their salaries plummeted, much like all Lebanese employees, due to the collapse of the Lebanese pound, while unrest prevails and the crime rate increases.

“Soldiers are hungry like the people,” he added, addressing political officials. “Do you want an army or not? Do you want a strong and steadfast institution or not?”

The Lebanese pound has lost about 90 percent of its value since late 2019, almost reaching 15,000 Lebanese pounds to $1 (on the black market), at a time when food commodity prices are in disarray.

The value of the basic monthly salary of a soldier or policeman has decreased, from about $800 (1,507 Lebanese pounds based on the official exchange rate) to less than $100 at present. Budget cuts have prompted the military to cut meat from its meals in 2020.

The political pressure on the LAF and other security services began after the protests of Oct. 17, 2019, and Gen. Aoun refused at the time to use excessive force against protesters.

 


Tunisian president says in contact with ‘friendly countries’ to cut deficit

Tunisian president says in contact with ‘friendly countries’ to cut deficit
Updated 25 min 34 sec ago

Tunisian president says in contact with ‘friendly countries’ to cut deficit

Tunisian president says in contact with ‘friendly countries’ to cut deficit

TUNIS: Tunisia’s President Kais Saied said in a video published by his office on Sunday that there were contacts with “friendly countries” to cut the country’s financial deficit, without giving details.
Tunisia’s fiscal deficit and public debt both grew sharply last year as a result of the pandemic and the government has been in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a loan deal. 


Yemeni minister slams Houthi militias’ recruitment of child soldiers

Yemeni minister slams Houthi militias’ recruitment of child soldiers
Updated 20 min 17 sec ago

Yemeni minister slams Houthi militias’ recruitment of child soldiers

Yemeni minister slams Houthi militias’ recruitment of child soldiers
  • In a tweet on Sunday, Yemen's Information Minister slammed the continued militarization of children and warned of the dangerous consequences for future generations

DUBAI: Yemen’s Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani has condemned the use of thousands of child soldiers by Iran-backed Houthi militias.

In a tweet on Sunday, he slammed the continued militarization of children and warned of the dangerous consequences for future generations.

Al-Eryani said the Houthis were “depriving children in their areas of control of their right to education, play, and normal life while using them as fuel for their battles to serve the ambitions of Iran.”

 

 

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and the SAM for Rights and Liberties organizations said in a recent report that the Houthis had forcibly recruited 10,300 children in Yemen since 2014 and called for urgent action to address the issue.

The report, titled “Militarizing Childhood,” highlighted the Houthis’ use of schools and educational facilities to recruit children.


Jordanian passenger jet forced into emergency landing

Jordanian passenger jet forced into emergency landing
Updated 02 August 2021

Jordanian passenger jet forced into emergency landing

Jordanian passenger jet forced into emergency landing
  • The airline is currently working with the concerned authorities to determine the reason behind the error, local media said

DUBAI: Royal Jordanian Airlines announced that its flight RJ 508 from Cairo to Amman was forced Monday into an emergency landing at Amman's Queen Alia International Airport 10 minutes before the scheduled landing time.

The airline said in a statement that it successfully completed the landing of the jet on the main runway, and all 133 passengers and six crew members of the flight were evacuated and transferred to the airport.

The airline is currently working with the concerned authorities to determine the reason behind the error, local media said. 

 


UAE rolls out Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 3-17

UAE rolls out Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 3-17
Updated 02 August 2021

UAE rolls out Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 3-17

UAE rolls out Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 3-17
  • The Gulf state, which has among the world’s highest immunization rates, was already providing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12-15

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates will start providing China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 3-17, the UAE government said on Twitter on Monday.
It cited the health ministry as saying the decision comes after clinical trials and extensive evaluations, without providing any details. Authorities said in June the trial would monitor the immune response of 900 children.
The Gulf state, which has among the world’s highest immunization rates, was already providing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12-15.
The health ministry said on Sunday that 78.95 percent of the UAE population of roughly 9 million had received one vaccine dose while 70.57 percent had been fully vaccinated.
The UAE, the region’s tourism and trade hub, registered 1,519 new coronavirus infections on Sunday to take its total to 682,377 cases and 1,951 deaths. It does not provide a breakdown for each of its seven emirates.
It led Phase III clinical trials of the vaccine produced by China’s state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm and has started manufacturing it under a joint venture between Sinopharm and Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42.


Lebanon implements COVID-19 health pass

Lebanon implements COVID-19 health pass
Updated 7 min 31 sec ago

Lebanon implements COVID-19 health pass

Lebanon implements COVID-19 health pass
  • The new rules go into effect Monday, at the peak of Lebanon’s summer tourist season while daily infections hover near the 1,000 mark

DUBAI: Lebanon will implement entry restrictions starting this week to tourist establishments such as beaches, bars and restaurants in a bid to curb a spike in COVID-19 infections. 

Anyone aged 16 and older must show a COVID-19 vaccination certificate, a recent negative coronavirus test or a document proving a previous infection to gain entry, the health ministry said last week. 

The ministry added that workers at those sites who have not received the vaccine will have to perform a PCR test every 72 hours.

The new rules go into effect Monday, at the peak of Lebanon’s summer tourist season while daily infections hover near the 1,000 mark.