BEIRUT: Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi Friday said the military would remain the guarantor of Lebanon’s stability in the face of security challenges and political uncertainty including the fate of the presidential election.
“Lebanon is going through a delicate stage of its history for we still lack a government and the fears over the presidential election are growing and in light of the security challenges the Army will remain the nation’s security net,” Kahwagi said in an address to officers.
“The Army draws its strength from its legitimacy and will not give up on its right to ensure stability and prevent self-security [by some] and we stress our firm decision to prevent strife in Lebanon and we will not let [Tripoli or any other] region fall to the mercy of [chaos],” he said.
Kahwagi said the Army was over the past months devoting its attention toward counter-terrorism and stressed that the military was stepping up these efforts in order to “apprehend these [terror] cells and tighten the noose around all suspect groups.
He stressed that the Army only took action against parties targeting citizens and the military.
“The Army does not fight anyone because of their beliefs but because of aggression against citizens and soldiers,” he said, adding that the Lebanese rejected “the terrorist and suicide missions” seen in recent months.
A wave of deadly bombings in Lebanon claimed by Al-Qaeda-linked groups has highlighted the growing impact of the Syria conflict on its neighbor. The attacks have targeted Lebanese regions that strongly back Hezbollah, which is actively engaged in the war between the Damascus regime and rebels in Syria.
“You must meet the expectations on you and it is not a trivial matter that every concerned state assures its support for Lebanon’s stability and the Lebanese Army,” he said.
He also denounced campaigns targeting the Army, saying the military enjoyed the backing of many states.
“There is a contrast in that as some target the Army, there is prominent international and Arab backing and will to strengthen [the military] and this out of conviction in the role of the military establishment,” he said.
Kahwagi also said the upcoming constitutional deadlines meant the military had a great responsibility.
“[Kahwagi viewed] that the international backing for the Army and its important role in the upcoming [constitutional] deadlines imposes a great responsibility [on the military],” adding that officers needed to raise the bar at the professional and military levels.
He also warned against the military getting into politics.
“Your sole reference is the Army Command: your sole allegiance to the Army,” he said, adding that “more transparency is needed as well as the culture of eradicating corruption.”