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The Daily Star
SUNDAY, 20 APR 2014
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Editorial
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Hands off now
A Lebanese army soldier gestures as they are deployed on their military vehicles on the streets of Sidon, southern Lebanon December 16, 2013. (REUTERS/Ali Hashisho)
A Lebanese army soldier gestures as they are deployed on their military vehicles on the streets of Sidon, southern Lebanon December 16, 2013. (REUTERS/Ali Hashisho)
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The Lebanese Army is widely regarded as the last remaining institution which is working for the good of the country, and which stands above and free from sectarian divisions and political wrangling, and any attacks against the armed forces must be treated as nothing short of treason.

Amid ongoing tension in Tripoli, the Army continues to broker peace in the northern city, despite its members often being targeted and killed there, as in the southern city of Sidon. It is stationed along the country’s borders, monitoring the tetchy southern front with Israel, and the volatile northern and eastern stretches separating the country from Syria. The Army has also been working overtime in recent weeks, collaborating with the civil defense to help stranded civilians suffering with the extreme weather conditions.

In a country which is currently suffering more acutely than usual from the corruption and failure of the government and politicians, the Army seems to represent a uniquely positive symbol, one which stands for unity and the entire republic.

So attacks and provocations against or involving the Army, as have been seen in recent days in various events across the country, are attempts to target the very heart of the nation.

The attacks against the Army coincide with a campaign against President Michel Sleiman, and his stance vis-a-vis Lebanon remaining neutral and disassociating itself from the Syrian crisis, something March 8 cannot truly claim to support any more. Some politicians, who perhaps feel protected by their close associations with this political bloc, seem to feel safe enough to fire verbal salvoes at Sleiman, forgetting that he too represents the entire country, and is motivated by a desire to see stability maintained.

Blindly attacking the Army and the president is a sin at the best of times. But arriving at this particular time, when the country already seems on the precipice and the future is so volatile, this barrage of abuse constitutes a national crime.

Those responsible are attempting to take advantage of the power vacuum in the country to further their own political interests, to destabilize the country even further and to advance their own reach.

But unfortunately, any attempts to cement one’s own power by targeting the Army or the president will ultimately fail. While they might rock the country in the interim, they will not help the perpetrators hold on to or increase their own power base. In the end, the whole country will suffer, including those who carried out such attacks.

Lebanon is already close enough to the abyss. All politicians and actors must carefully consider how they approach the current crisis, and work hard on a concerted, simultaneous effort to stabilize the country and insulate it from the dangerous winds sweeping the region. Anything else will merely help external powers at the expense of national Lebanese unity.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 17, 2013, on page 7.
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