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SUNDAY, 20 APR 2014
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Army sources rule out major security explosion in Lebanon
This file pictures shows Lebanese soldiers on patrol. (The Daily Star)
This file pictures shows Lebanese soldiers on patrol. (The Daily Star)
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BEIRUT: Lebanon is not on the verge of major security troubles that will spin out of control, and attempts to drag the Lebanese Army into a confrontation with citizens will fail, senior military sources said Thursday. Referring to this week’s road closures in Beirut and other areas following an attack on Al-Jadeed TV, the sources said “frictions” might continue due to the turmoil in the political landscape as a result of sectarian rhetoric.

The country will pass the current stage peacefully since Arab, regional and international signs from Arab and Western capitals indicate that none of these countries want instability or a total breakdown in the security situation in Lebanon, the sources said.

They added that all political parties in Lebanon, both pro-government and opposition, were aware of the gravity of a full deterioration in security.

Referring to the popular upheavals sweeping across the Arab world, the sources said that what some states in the region were facing could be described as “a black tunnel.”

They said the “ big earthquake” Arab peoples were facing was still in its prime and it was unclear how it would end.

But they voiced fears that if the situation in the region, particularly the 16-month-old crisis in Syria, was not tackled, “Lebanon might be exposed to more trouble amid the sharp divisions between the Lebanese political parties.” The sources urged Lebanese political parties with Arab, regional and international concerns to give priority to Lebanon’s interests “because the loss of this country will be a loss for everyone regardless of their political tendencies.”

“Sects do not protect countries. What protects the country is the state and its institutions, particularly the military establishment. Citizens of various sects and affiliations know this as do politicians,” one source said.

The sources expected this segment of citizens to respond favorably to the government’s call for lifting political cover from violators and people involved in security incidents.

According to the sources, attempts to drag the Lebanese Army into a confrontation with citizens, either in the north or any other area, would not succeed.

Referring to the killing of a prominent anti-Syria Muslim preacher and a companion by soldiers at a Lebanese Army checkpoint in the northern district of Akkar in May, the source said: “What happened in Akkar was a mistake. The [military] establishment has taken the blame for this incident and is unlikely to hurt anyone. The armed forces will not accept any kind of security excess by any party.”

The sources added that the Lebanese Army was more united than anyone could imagine, its members were wary of what was happening around them, while Army Command was in contact with all parties, both in the government and opposition camps. The sources called on all parties, particularly politicians, to stop sectarian and confessional incitement in their speeches.

As for the Army’s handling of the recent security incidents, the sources said the military had dealt with these problems with “realism,” avoiding the use of force “not because it was incapable of it, but because its capability and strength demand that it not resort to violence that could result in the deaths of innocent people, which the military establishment does not want.”

Regarding reports about alleged plots to assassinate political leaders in Lebanon, the sources said there was no proof so far to confirm these reports.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 29, 2012, on page 1.
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