BEIRUT: Internal Security Forces head Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous says Monday that Lebanon’s police are outside sectarian and political divisions, vowing to keep working for the nation while the country's interior minister called for a new "security culture".
“We can assure that we are staying away from sectarian divisions and are not biased to any political stances,” Basbous said, speaking during a ceremony to celebrate the 153rd anniversary of the police.
“The Internal Security Forces will remain in service of the nation and its honest citizens, it will not however tolerate outlaws and will strike violators with an iron fist,” the official said.
“We achieve victory for the unjust and we do not fear the tyrant,” he said.
The ceremony was held in Dbayyeh, north of Beirut, at the Wissam al-Hasan barracks and attended by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk and other senior officials.
Both Machnouk and Basbous laid a wreath on the ISF Martyrs’ Monument and the police members held a parade.
Basbous said that the police, with the help of the Army, were able to implement several security plans and arrest terrorist cells and criminal gangs.
Machnouk hailed the cooperation between the police and the military, and the role and achievements of the police.
“You were and will remain the safety valve for all Lebanese, the Lebanese will remember your battles against terrorism and your efforts to dismantle terrorist cells and prevent Lebanon from deteriorating,” he said.
“I also hail the cooperation between the army and the police to protect the country,” Machnouk said.
The minister said that the political divisions in the country have affected the police and called for a new “security culture” in Lebanon.
“Due to the political conflict, the Internal Security Forces was placed in a position where it had to defend itself instead of defending people,” he said.
“These times are gone and there is a lot riding on you to continue and develop your path. You are capable of establishing a new security culture with your achievements,” the minister said.
Machnouk also said he would exert all efforts to resolve the problem of Lebanese prisons. “I will knock every Arab and international door to achieve modern prisons in the country,” he said.
Lebanon witnessed several security challenges in the last two years, mostly linked to the Syrian crisis, which included booby-trapped cars, kidnappings and long intermittent clashes in the northern city of Tripoli.
For his part, ISF spokesman Col. Joseph Moussallem said that Lebanon’s police aim to serve the people and provide security for citizens.
“It is not easy for the institution of the police to celebrate its steadfastness after all these years,” he said. “We recall today both the pain of suffering and the joy of achievement, and we reaffirm our role in protecting public freedoms,” Moussallem said. “We are keen on preserving the history of our message,” he said.
Initially established in 1861 under Ottoman rule, the ISF has evolved and grown over the last 153 years.
Before 1861, Lebanese emirs used their armed men to provide security and enforce laws. The ISF was set up with backing from world powers in 1861 following the end of 20 years of sectarian violence in Mount Lebanon between the Druze and Maronite communities.