Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
WEDNESDAY, 23 APR 2014
10:19 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Editorial
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Uncolored arms
Lebanese Army troops patrol the streets in Tripoli, Lebanon, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
Lebanese Army troops patrol the streets in Tripoli, Lebanon, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
A+ A-

After a year in which dozens of soldiers have been killed across Lebanon, and when the country teeters on the brink of chaos, this week’s $3 billion grant to the Army from Saudi Arabia could not have come at a better time. But it must not be politicized by certain actors, looking to find flaws in anything the kingdom can do.

While Saudi Arabia, and other countries, both in the Gulf and the West, have provided assistance to the Lebanese Army before, this is the biggest ever single aid package. And it arrives at such a critical juncture for the country, when it is facing threats from each of its borders, and battling internal divisions and violence as well.

But amid all these crises, it sends a signal that Saudi Arabia, one of the Middle East’s de facto leaders, has faith in Lebanon, and in particular its army and its ability to persevere and stabilize the country, insulating itself from regional turmoil.

The Army is symbolically the strongest institution in the country – to most Lebanese it represents unity, and remains to a large extent neutral in the face of internal political or sectarian divisions.

It has managed, against all odds, to transcend the dangerous habit of affiliation which has plagued most other institutions in the country, often while sacrificing its own members, as has been evidenced this year, with losses during battles in Sidon, Tripoli and the Bekaa Valley.

But while it is symbolically strong, and holds this special place in the national psyche, it is physically weak: chronically underfunded and its soldiers and resources overstretched.

Forced to patrol every border, it also finds itself filling in where other security agencies are failing, often acting as policeman, negotiator and emergencies director as well as soldier.

So this grant – which equals the military assistance given to Israel from the U.S. each year – will be crucial in helping the Army fill in some worrying gaps, and is a commendable signal from the kingdom. But still, certain voices in the Lebanese political spectrum have found it necessary to criticize the move, the same voices who have always accused Saudi Arabia of meddling in Lebanon’s domestic affairs.

Saudi Arabia has always been a friend to Lebanon when it has been in need, propping up its currency when it was in jeopardy, and helping it patch itself up after the Civil War and 2006 conflict. It has consistently stood by Lebanon, and this latest grant, while hugely welcomed, should therefore not come as a massive surprise. The condition that the money must be spent on French arms is undoubtedly intended as a message to the U.S. that the kingdom has new friends, but ultimately the move will benefit Lebanon.

All that can be hoped now is that the Lebanese distance themselves from politicizing the move, and also that the Army is able to use the money most effectively as possible, and not let the equipment be affected by traditional Lebanese bureaucracy and corruption. The Army is for all of Lebanon, anyone would have trouble denying that, so any efforts to support the institution must be taken as a move to support all Lebanese, regardless of political affiliation or sectarian background, the factors which the Army works so hard to ignore.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 31, 2013, on page 7.
Home Editorial
 
     
 
Lebanon
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Tuesday April 22, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Israel shows Zionism’s true colors
Michael Young
Michael Young
Why confuse gibberish with knowledge?
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Echoes of 1914 characterize the Ukraine crisis
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS