BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman Thursday urged political leaders to drop their narrow interests and encouraged government security bodies to remain united in the struggle against instability and global terrorism.
Sleiman made the comments during a speech at the first high-profile ceremony to honor General Security, the government agency which is responsible for passport and border control, on the occasion of the 68th anniversary of its establishment.
Sleiman also praised other achievements of the security agency, in uncovering espionage networks and undertaking sensitive tasks. He paid tribute to Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, the head of General Security, who has been pursuing negotiations with Turkish and Syrian officials to gain the release of nine Lebanese Shiite pilgrims kidnapped in Syria last year.
As for foreign threats, the president said Lebanon faces “external dangers represented by the Israeli enemy, and global terrorism.”
“Israel views Lebanon as a threat to its racist entity, so it continues to plant strife with aggression against our sovereignty, regardless of international law and U.N. resolutions,” he said.
“Terrorism is taking place in all countries and planting fear and chaos everywhere. Terror cells, bombings, the launching of rockets, and kidnappings are all examples of what global terrorism has in store for all countries.”
Sleiman warned that Lebanon is also facing domestic dangers as a result of “[intense] political division, short-term interests, and losing wagers on what is going on around us, particularly in Syria.”
“The most dangerous of these wagers is that each party is convinced that the national interest is linked definitively to its team assuming power, as if institutions, security and the judiciary will function better, and as if this can happen in a day,” he said.
The president said that all sides had a responsibility to confront such dangers and commit themselves to state institutions and the country’s laws.
Sleiman said political leaders should help security bodies face the Israeli threat and finalize a national defense strategy.
“Our military institutions deserve our full attention to secure and officials and constitutional institutions should continue to equip them in parallel with implementing a national defense strategy ... to benefit from the capabilities of the resistance in order to face the Israeli war machine,” he said.
He called on security agencies to work together as one body.
“Stay as you are: United in achieving tasks and believing in institutions to fend off security breaches and violations, as well as the dangers threatening our country,” he said.
He also criticized corruption in the public sector, saying political reform is the basis of all other reforms.
“The first sign that there is a will [by politicians] to reform is by drafting an electoral law to achieve fairness and the best representation for all,” he added.
For his part, Ibrahim delivered remarks in which he saluted the agency’s fallen members and saying Lebanon should redirect its focus toward Israel.
“We are celebrating during a difficult time in the region and Lebanon,” he said.
“The Israeli enemy is happy because our compass has been diverted from its proper direction,” Ibrahim added. “Today the Lebanese are divided and are missing out on a historic opportunity to heal their wounds.”