During the handover ceremony of the Ministry of Defense on Thursday, January 23, the new minister of defense Zeina Akar Adra stressed the importance of Lebanese people’s right to protest and pressure the government to function in a status that works best with the people’s interests and demands.
MP Adra explained that the anger of the people protesting on the streets is normal as it is stemmed from the long years of dereliction and corruption within the state of Lebanon.
She also asserted, “I came to work seriously, and I know that the people are not pleased with the performance of politicians in general, but I ask the people to watch me first and judge me second.”
She insisted that fighting corruption and recovering the stolen money is the people’s number one priority as well as hers, stressing that she will be working hard with the help of other ministers in the cabinet to achieve these demands.
Even though she has been accused of being a member of, or affiliated to, certain political parties, sources close to Adra denied these allegations.
The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat: “There is no partisan background for her being appointed to this position. Adra was the choice of President Michel Aoun and his ministerial share.”
As for her ability to manage the Ministry of Defense and the Lebanese Army, in particular, sources confirmed that Akra is a hard worker, noting that “the Minister of Defense has a logistical administrative mission, more than a military role.”
The sources also confirmed that the minister of defense usually addresses the military establishment through the army commander/chief since the latter is the side responsible for the military institution.
Noting that Adra is the first woman of defense ever in Lebanon and the whole MENA region, she knows that her responsibilities and what is expected of her may be greater than what was expected of her former “successors.”
The former minister of defense Elias Bou Saab explained during the ministerial handover ceremony that the tasks of the ministry of defense are administrative and depend on agreements and signatures.
He also noted that the minister has no power to issue orders to the army, as it is within the power of the army chief.
Adra said that she accepted the position despite her knowledge that there is no trust among the people in the government.
She asked the Lebanese people to wait on her a while and then hold her responsible, insisting: “[I’m] a defense minister for your rights.”