Lebanese Armed Forces Commander, General Joseph Aoun, on Monday held a meeting in Yarzeh with the command’s staff, leaders of the LAF’s major units, as well as independent regiments, in presence of members of the Military Council.
The meeting reportedly broached local and regional developments, as well as the situation of the military establishment.
In his address to state officials, General Aoun reminded them that the army was part of the Lebanese society and suffered the same amid the incessantly deteriorating economic and living conditions.
“The political crisis has affected the country on all levels, especially economically, and this has led to high rates of poverty and hunger. The depositors’ funds have been seized by banks, and salaries have lost their purchasing value, thus, the military’s salary lost its value as well,” he said.
He reminded officials that military men and women were suffering and starving just like other people in Lebanon. He then addressed officials with a question: “Where are we going with this situation? What do you intend to do? We have warned, more than once, about the seriousness of the situation and the possibility of a social explosion. The army supports the freedom of peaceful expression(…), yet without vandalizing public and private property.”
Moreover, Aoun affirmed that the army would never allow any harm to Lebanon’s stability and civil peace.
He then regretted that the army’s budget was being reduced every year.
“The allocated funds are not enough to last until the end of the year though the military establishment has taken the initiative to adopt a massive austerity policy on its own amid the dire economic situation,” General Aoun said.
“Do you want an army or not? Steadfast or not? The army is required to do many tasks, and it is always ready, but that cannot be achieved through continuous and repeated cuts to the budget,” he added.
“We’ve spoke to those concerned because the matter has been affecting the morale of the military, but unfortunately, we did not reach a conclusion —- they do not care about the army or the sufferings of its soldiers,” the Army Chief added.
Regarding border smuggling, General Aoun called on those who accused the army of negligence to “closely inspect the borders and check what the army has achieved in terms of control towers and procedures, and the conditions in which soldiers are present.”
With regard to the indirect negotiation process to demarcate the maritime borders with the Israeli enemy, General Aoun explained that the role of the army was purely technical. “We are very serious about reaching a solution that preserves our national rights and wealth in accordance with international laws,” he added.
The Army Commander went on to call on the Lebanese political authority to “carry out its duties to support and accompany the negotiating delegation [with Israel] and to determine what is required of it, or to simply declare its position explicitly.”
On the security level, General Aoun indicated that the situation was unstable due to the economic crisis and its repercussions, the continued threats and daily violations of the Israeli enemy, in addition to sleeping terrorist cells that seek to exploit the internal conditions and Syrian and Palestinian refugee camps to tamper with security stability