Lebanon News

Sectarianism a threat to the state’s stability: Ibrahim

General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim speaks during an interview with The Daily Star in Beirut, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Sectarian divides must not play a role in national politics, General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim warned in an interview with the agency’s monthly magazine published Monday.

Ibrahim said Lebanon’s lack of political stability “is based on the country’s sectarian crises.” He added that national cohesion must be a priority for all Lebanon’s lawmakers, but had been abandoned in favor of solidarity within sectarian lines.

The General Security head also appeared to attack Lebanese politicians for bringing external and regional issues, such as renewing ties with Syria, into Lebanon’s political debate, which he said brings sectarian loyalties to the fore.

Lebanon’s new Cabinet, formed last week after more than eight months of deadlock, is now tasked with producing a policy statement. The government’s stance on Syria is expected to be among the contentious issues.

While Hezbollah, the Amal Movement and their allies have called for normalizing ties with the Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the Lebanese Forces and the Progressive Socialist Party staunchly oppose any contact with the regime before a political settlement is reached to end the almost 8-year-old war in Syria.

Ibrahim also lamented the increased rates of emigration from Lebanon, which he said had reached a “dangerous level.”

He attributed the rising numbers of people leaving to high levels of unemployment, citing a report from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. The decline of Lebanon’s economy, he said, has led to a regression in the country’s ability to create new jobs, especially in low-skilled fields or those with very few legal protections.

While Lebanese migration may help bring foreign currencies and additional deposits into local banks, Ibrahim said they prevent the creation of a real local economy.

Finally, Ibrahim addressed the issue of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, who he described as “a de facto drain on national economy and labor.” The issue must be looked at closely, he said, but Lebanon must not attack refugees, who are victims, or use their presence to boast the country’s humanity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 05, 2019, on page 2.




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