The Lebanese crisis threatens the army, one of its few unifications

Beirut – Since the civil war, through war with Israel, radical bombing, and domestic turmoil, the Lebanese have regarded their army as an anchor for stability, one of the only institutions standing on top of the national sector. ..

However, according to the World Bank, the military is now threatened by the catastrophic financial collapse of Lebanon. This is one of the worst the world has seen in the last 150 years.

The economic collapse has put unprecedented pressure on US-backed military operations, clearing soldiers’ salaries and demoralizing them. As population poverty worsens and sectarian tensions and crimes increase, exacerbations endanger one of the few forces that unite Lebanon.

“This kind of decline has not been seen in the five years since the last Lebanese political elite annihilated or drifted the Lebanese army, the civil war between 1975 and 1990. Can be a precursor to instability, “said Alam Nerguizian. Senior Advisor to the Civil-Military Relations Program in Arab countries at the Carnegie Middle East Center.


The army itself evoked vigilance. This is probably unusual for the only army in the Middle East, mainly in that it remains outside politics.

In a speech to officers in March, Army staff member General Joseph Aung warned that the soldiers were “suffering and hungry like everyone else.”

He also openly criticized political leadership, paralyzed by internal conflict and doing little to deal with the crisis. “What are you waiting for? What are you going to do? We have repeatedly warned about the dangers of the situation,” he said — army officers are not allowed to make political statements. So amazing comments.


A senior Army official confirmed to the Associated Press that economic conditions had a significant impact on morals. “There is no doubt that there is a great deal of resentment among the military ranks,” officials said.

“The military has many obligations,” officials said, including maintaining internal stability. “Leaders are concerned about the development of security conditions in the field and their ability to address this issue,” said officials, subject to regulatory anonymity. He added that it is important to support the military to prevent Lebanon from getting into turmoil.

France is holding a virtual funding conference on Thursday after the Army Chief of Staff visited Paris to seek help. France warned that Lebanese troops “may no longer be able to fully carry out missions essential to national stability.” The United States, the Army’s largest supporter, has promised more aid in 2021.


The army is partially balanced with Hezbollah, a Shiite faction backed by a powerful army and politically controlled Iran. Nergizian warned that the decline of the army could bring Hezbollah even closer. Outside of Lebanon, especially in Washington, we hope the results will come true.

It could also open the door for countries like Russia, China, Iran and Syria to find ways to hire and influence their troops.

After decades of corruption and mismanagement by the political elite, Lebanon’s economy began to collapse in October 2019. The once prosperous banking sector has collapsed and the currency has lost about 90% of its value against the dollar in a surplus market. More than half of the country is in poverty.


Similarly hits are 80,000 military personnel. Prior to the crisis, enlisted soldiers earned about $ 800 a month, but now they have fallen to less than $ 100 a month. Officers’ salaries are high, but their value is low, and they are now about $ 400 a month.

The military has tightened spending. A year ago, he announced that he would stop serving meat in the diet given to soldiers on duty. It still offers free treatment, but power people say that quality and effectiveness have deteriorated sharply.

“Morale is underground,” said a 24-year-old soldier who left the army in March after five years of service.

By the time he left, he said the 1.2 million Lebanese pound salary he received was barely sufficient for food, tobacco, and transportation. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Mohammad Orayan, who retired two years ago after working in the military for more than 27 years, told The Associated Press that his end-of-service payments had been wiped out by the crash. Instead of a decent retirement, he now has to do a strange job to keep his 12-year-old twin girls.


“What incentives do young soldiers have?” He asked. “I make a lot of sacrifices for my country and see how I ended up for this mafia,” he said, referring to politicians.

Nerguizian said the overall case of escape remains relatively low, but the military is increasing cases of negligence, high AWOL rates, and more side jobs by staff to increase salaries.

He said he had seen the highest turnover in the last three years and personnel chose to leave the army. “More worrisome, the unit has lost quality officers and non-commissioned officers, the gray matter and capabilities it has spent over a decade and a half developing,” Nerguizian added.

After the outbreak of the 15-year civil war in Lebanon in 1975, the army split along sectarian boundaries. Reunited in the early 1990s under the command of General Emile Lahoud, who later became president.


Since then, it has become one of the most specialized troops in the Middle East. The United States has provided more than $ 2 billion since 2007, hoping to build a breakwater against Hezbollah’s power, but aid is well below the approximately $ 3 billion annually provided to the Israeli army.

The army is also one of the few state agencies that enjoys respect among the Lebanese people, in contrast to their politicians, and their fight that has failed to form a government since October. I’m crazy about it.

During the anti-government demonstrations that swept the country in late 2019, videos of soldiers overcoming emotions when confronting protesters were widely shared on social media.

Elias Farhat, a former Lebanese military general who is now a military researcher, said he did not believe that a collapse scenario was possible now.

“This is not a military crisis, but a national crisis. In the past, there were serious security issues that affected the military and led to its collapse,” he said, referring to the civil war.


“Not today.”

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

The Lebanese crisis threatens the army, one of its few unifications

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