The Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, General Joseph Aoun, headed on Monday afternoon a meeting at the headquarters of the Armed Forces in Yarzeh.
As he discussed the latest developments in Lebanon with the members of the Military Council and the rest of the attendees, Gen. Aoun emphasized that the Lebanese Army suffers from the ongoing crises just as civilians do.
“The political crisis has been reflected on all levels, especially economically, leading to high poverty and hunger rates,” he stated.
“The depositors’ money is seized in banks, and salaries have lost their purchasing value, and therefore the soldier’s salary lost its value. The military persons suffer and hunger like the people do,” he added.
From there, Gen. Aoun addressed Lebanese officials: “Where are we going? What do you intend to do?”
He continued: “We have warned more than once about the danger of the situation and the possibility of it exploding.”
The General stressed that the Lebanese Army “supports the freedom of peaceful expression that is sponsored by the constitution and international covenants,” as long as it doesn’t involve “encroaching on public and private property.”
He went on to indicate that the Army’s budget is being reduced annually, to the point that “the money does not last until the end of the year,” which has forced the military institution to adopt “a significant austerity policy, on its own, in line with the economic situation.”
“Do you want an army or not? Do you want a strong, resilient institution or not?” he then asked, again addressing Lebanon‘s political class.
“The Army is required to perform many tasks and it is always ready, but this cannot be met with a continuous and repeated reduction of the budget and with discussions about the rights of the military persons.”
Gen. Aoun noted that talks with the concerned officials about these issues have failed to yield results. “They do not care about the Army or the suffering of its soldiers,” he stated.
Additionally, he pointed out that the Lebanese Army has been targeted by media and political campaigns “aimed at making it pliant,” stressing that the latter “will never happen.”
“If the goal of these campaigns is to hit the Army and tarnish its image, then we will not allow the Army to be the scapegoat for anyone, and this will not affect our morale and our missions,” the Army Commander stressed.
Gen. Aoun’s remarks come as people across Lebanon protest the deteriorating living conditions amidst a political vacuum that threatens to make matters worse.
Since the early hours of Monday, protesters have taken to the streets and blocked main roads in various areas.
Military sources told MTV on Monday afternoon that the army and security forces will not try to open the road, neither in Zouk nor in Jal El-Dib, as long as the seaside road is open to traffic.
This comes after a security meeting in the Presidential Palace in Baabda on the same day led to the tasking of security forces and the Lebanese Army with preventing the closure of roads in the country.