BEIRUT: Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi voiced confidence Monday that Lebanon would weather the turmoil in the region, ahead of a security meeting of senior officials to address developments in the country.
“Given the unstable situation in the region, our situation in Lebanon is still okay and the country will survive,” Kahwagi told reporters prior to a meeting of the Higher Defense Council.
The meeting, which was chaired by President Michel Sleiman, addressed the series of deadly car bombings in the capital and north Lebanon, a recent Israeli air raid that targeted an area south of Beirut as well as border control measures.
A statement issued following the meeting hailed residents’ reactions to last week’s twin car bombs in Tripoli and the August car bombing in Ruwaiss, part of the southern suburbs of Beirut.
“The council hailed the patriotic spirit in the reactions of citizens in both Tripoli and Dahiyeh [Beirut’s southern suburbs], mainly their rejection to sliding into strife,” said the statement.
The Council, according to the statement that was read by Maj. Gen. Mohammad Kheir, also discussed ways to preserve Lebanon’s sovereignty in light of the recent Israeli air strike.
The Council also discussed recent border measures by General Security to control the entry and exit of Palestinians and Syrians into Lebanon, Kheir said.
The meeting was attended by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and other caretaker ministers dealing with defense issues.
Mikati and Sleiman held a closed meeting prior to the meeting.
Meanwhile, Beirut MPs held a meeting Monday in Parliament to discuss preventative security measures that should be taken around the capital.
The meeting was attended by some Beirut lawmakers as well as local government leaders.
MP Mohammad Qabbani with the Future bloc said the meeting discussed preemptive measures for preventing attacks such as designing a security plan for the capital, setting up surveillance cameras on streets and using municipality guards as a monitoring body.
“We asked that municipality guards in coordination with the Internal Security Forces and Beirut police to be the official eyes on the streets because it is not within its prerogative to be a [security] force,” Qabbani told reporters following the meeting.
He added that there are 14 guard centers in Beirut and 600 personnel that could provide police with information. He suggested the guards could be deployed around mosques and churches on Fridays and Sundays.
The Beirut Municipality Council will hold a meeting Thursday to study proposals discussed by MPs, Qabbani said.