Warned of the “critical” situation, the Lebanese Army Chief of Staff told the French-led virtual meeting that the economic crisis will cause the collapse of all state institutions.
Some countries have pledged to provide emergency assistance to the Lebanese Army to prevent it from collapsing in the face of the worst political and economic crisis affecting the country-although they have not provided details of the assistance provided.
Lebanese Army Chief of Staff Joseph Aoun said at a virtual conference of world powers organized by France on Thursday that if the country’s crisis persists and military salaries continue to fall, the country will face dire consequences.
“How can a soldier feed a family whose salary does not exceed $90?” He said in a video posted on the army’s Twitter account.
“The situation is critical. If not alleviated, the economic and financial crisis will inevitably lead to the collapse of all state institutions, including the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF),” he said.
Aoun said that the army is the “only guarantor” of Lebanon’s security and stability, and it is also “the most trustworthy institution at home and abroad.”
“Therefore, maintaining cohesion and supporting LAF in carrying out its mission is crucial.”
France described the Lebanese army as “critical to national stability” and arranged meetings with partners including the United States, Russia and China, as well as European powers and some Gulf Arab countries (though not Saudi Arabia).
Excerpts from the speech of Army Commander General Joseph Orn at the International Virtual Conference in Support of the Army#Lebanese Army #Lebanese Army https://t.co/I0EZmwjodx pic.twitter.com/2I6B4r7ToU
-Lebanese Army (@LebarmyOfficial) June 17, 2021
Participating countries are required to provide food, medical supplies, spare parts for military equipment and even fuel, although they are not required to pay wages directly. The military’s shopping lists add up to millions of dollars.
Two diplomats told Reuters that they did not provide much during the meeting, although most countries expressed willingness to provide bilateral support in the future. They stated that the follow-up mechanism will supervise and coordinate any assistance provided directly to the military rather than through government channels.
Paris has been trying to increase pressure on the quarreling Lebanese politicians, but has so far failed to push them to form a new government that is vital to the release of foreign aid.
As Lebanon’s currency depreciated by 90% against the U.S. dollar, resulting in a drop in soldiers’ salaries, the security forces’ dissatisfaction has been brewing. Many people have accepted additional jobs, while some have resigned.
The French Ministry of Defense said in a statement: “Even though many countries have provided substantial bilateral assistance, the severity of the Lebanese crisis requires everyone to strengthen their commitment and coordination.”
The statement added: “The Lebanese Armed Forces remain an important pillar of the Lebanese state” and “play a key role in maintaining national security.”
“Their cohesion and professionalism remain vital to maintaining stability.”