Credit to the nation

File photo shows soldiers of the Lebanese Army. (The Daily Star)

The Lebanese Army is the country’s only major institution that has escaped internal division along sectarian lines. It is a melting pot, blurring the lines between the country’s divisions, at a time when elsewhere they are being drawn.

The Army has always been the force of last resort for imposing law and order on the country, a job which it has been expected to perform with meager equipment and resources.

It is also given respect by the country’s different factions, who have praised its neutrality.

The Army has recently played a vital role in calming the situation on the northern and northeastern borders with Syria.

The importance of its presence in Tripoli during the latest violence in the northern city can hardly be overstated, particularly as it came at the expense of some of the Army’s own troops.

In the south the Army plays a very positive role, in conjunction with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which has praised its cooperation.

They have tackled these situations, which have the potential to quickly become explosive, with patience and understanding, containing rather than encouraging violence.

In a country where there are at least 2 million weapons, and many people all too willing to use them, such situations require a delicacy that the Lebanese Army has proven it is capable of if it is to avoid serious bloodshed.

In the midst of a series of kidnappings and road blockings, the Army sought cover from the executive branch and the president. With that cover, the Army proved that they were able to perform their job efficiently and professionally.

The Army secured the release of Syrians abducted by the Meqdad clan, and arrested a gang believed to have been involved in the abduction of Syrian nationals.

These actions have proved that when the Army has the will and the authority it most certainly has the capacity and the power to do its duty for the peace and security of the country.

It is to be hoped that the latest confidence shown in the Army will be a prelude to a longer-term policy in which the military will be invested with the support it needs to restore and implement the law, and to ensure the country is secure.

This is vital not only for Lebanon’s citizens but also for visitors, who must be assured that in coming to this country they will have freedom of movement while they are here.

In its latest actions the Lebanese Army must be commended, and it must be supported to continue what it has begun. It has proved that it is more than capable of action, when it has the right authority and support behind it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 12, 2012, on page 7.




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