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The Daily Star
MONDAY, 21 APR 2014
02:38 PM Beirut time
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Rival camps agree Army being targeted, must be safeguarded
Lebanese army personnel arrive at the site of the explosion in Haret Hreik, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
Lebanese army personnel arrive at the site of the explosion in Haret Hreik, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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Senior March 14 sources have warned that major threats are targeting the Army, which, for the time being, represents the state’s strongest institution.

“The Lebanese Army had been, since 1969, coexisting with illegal armed groups, and in order not to blow up the internal situation, although it failed several times,” one source said.

According to the source, in 1975 the coexistence with the Palestinian Liberation Organization proved explosive and ended in a Civil War, which the Taif Accord put an end to in 1990.

However, the source said the Army again had to coexist with the armed groups of Hezbollah and Amal, which forged a partnership through fighting Israel, contributing to the liberation of the occupied southern territories in May 2000 and confronting the Israeli army again in July 2006.

“The Lebanese state had to turn a blind eye again when Hezbollah was involved in the Syrian war, a fact which not only jeopardizes the party’s followers and strongholds and the Iranian Embassy but also the whole country and its institutions, notably the Army,” the source told The Daily Star.

The source said that what was needed at the moment was to put an end to the “mounting humiliation and diminishment of the Lebanese state’s power.”

According to the March 14 source, the state’s decline has been demonstrated by the recurrent unjustified incidents against the Army such as attacks in December on the Majdalyoun and Awwali checkpoints in Sidon, and the targeting of the Army post in Hermel by the Syrian army. All of these incidents cast more shadows on the fragile situation of the military and make it appear an easy target, the source said.

“Why are we exposing the last strong institution in the country to such incidents? It is just because Hezbollah has decided to get involved in the Syrian war without taking into consideration the danger that such a move would pose on the future of the Lebanese entity,” the March 14 source said.

Conversely, March 8 sources expressed fear that “targeting the Army may be part of a plot to weaken the military and threaten Lebanon’s unity as the plotters have failed to ignite a sectarian war in the country, something many internal parties have placed their bets on.”

But “the Lebanese have proved that attempts to divide them were never successful until the Army was targeted and paralyzed, making way for the foreign conspiracies similar to what happened prior to the Civil War,” one source said.

The March 8 source went on to say that “certain parties warned against reviving the 1975 situation, especially when fundamentalist and terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Nusra [Front] and Fatah al-Islam realize this fact and aim at targeting the Army and fragmenting it.”

Asked about Saudi Arabia’s grant to the Army, March 8 sources expressed their reservations, saying that the kingdom was doing what was in its capacity to target Hezbollah, and maybe it was placing its bets on arming the Army and preparing it for a future confrontation with the group.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 03, 2014, on page 3.
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