BEIRUT: Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi said Friday that the military would continue to protect Lebanon from regional turmoil, combat terrorism and protect coexistence in the country.
“Our Constitution highlights the importance of coexistence as a solid base for building Lebanon, and it is what we adhere to every day despite all the difficulties we are experiencing,” Kahwagi said.
“By protecting our country and coexistence, we in the Army represent a successful model for all Lebanese institutions on how to respect the Constitution, the Taif Accord and coexistence rather than engage in futile adventures with uncalculated consequences,” Kahwagi added.
The Army chief made his remarks to members of the league of Arab and foreign military attaches that visited him at his office at the Defense Ministry in Yarzeh.
“You are aware of the extent of the dangers the Army is confronting to stop Lebanon from being turned into an arena for regional conflicts,” Kahwagi explained.
The Army has struggled over the past three years to contain tensions across Lebanon mainly resulting from the civil war in neighboring Syria. Clashes often break out in the northern city of Tripoli between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
A series of car bombs and suicide attacks, mainly linked to the conflict in neighboring Syria, has rocked Beirut’s southern suburbs, Hermel and Tripoli over the past months.
Kahwagi said that the Army had many achievements to be proud of, both in combating terrorist cells or in implementing Resolution 1701 in cooperation with the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon.
“We also reiterate our commitment to [Resolution 1701] and we stick to our right to defend our land, sea and airspace against the Israeli enemy,” he said.
Addressing his guests, Kahwagi said the fact that foreign military attaches in Lebanon were encouraging their countries to provide assistance to the Army was a sign that they trusted this country’s military establishment.
“This is because you know that the Army is not biased toward a certain group, but it works for the good, independence, sovereignty and freedom of Lebanon. And because you also know that the officers of the Army and its soldiers implement the orders of their command and enjoy high levels of preparedness and discipline,” Kahwagi said.
He added that these qualifications had enabled the Army to preserve civil peace and combat various forms of terrorism which has manifested in the form of assassinations and other acts of aggression.
“[Terrorists] have been targeting the Army for a while in a clear plan to undermine stability and unity in Lebanon and deal a blow to this [military] establishment, which is challenging [them],” Kahwagi said.
The general vowed that the Army, supported by its allies, would continue to confront terrorism.
“We appreciate the efforts made by all of you in helping us to preserve the stability of Lebanon and your work providing the Army with the equipment and military assistance it needs because you know that it is up to challenges and expectations,” Kahwagi said.