Internal concerns mount over Lebanon's military leadership as Gaza's war fallout spreads south

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2023-10-26 | 23:35
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Internal concerns mount over Lebanon's military leadership as Gaza's war fallout spreads south
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Internal concerns mount over Lebanon's military leadership as Gaza's war fallout spreads south

The international effort to warn Lebanon against sliding into war continues. In parallel, there is an internal effort to prevent the military institution from facing a leadership vacuum. 

This article was originally published in and translated from Lebanese newspaper Nidaa Al-Watan. 

The situation on the ground in the "new conflict zones" along the southern borders appears to be causing daily human and material losses in the border villages. 

This prompted the Speaker of the Parliament, Nabih Berri, to condemn the "scorched-earth policy pursued by Israel" on the southern borders, similar to what is happening in Gaza.

In this regard, diplomatic sources told Nidaa Al-Watan that there is a "danger" threatening Lebanon if it remains a bystander in the face of the repercussions of the war in Gaza on the south. 

They pointed out that the region is currently experiencing the following positions: 

- An American position that wants the war to remain confined to Gaza; 
- An unclear Iranian position regarding the request from Hezbollah to open a southern front so that Hamas does not act alone in Gaza;
- An ambiguous Israeli position concerning Lebanon and the possibility of Israel initiating an offensive in the south against the party.

The sources concluded by saying, "The only solution that represents a precious opportunity is for Lebanon to tell the Americans, Iranians, and Israelis that Lebanese borders are under the control of legitimacy and to prepare a Lebanese decision to implement UN Resolution 1701, instead of it becoming a battleground where there is no room for any Lebanese decision at all."

Meanwhile, internal interest is growing to address the situation of the military institution, which will be responsible for implementing Resolution 1701 alongside the UNIFIL forces.

Nidaa Al-Watan learned that the confirmation by Speaker Berri and Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati in their meeting that "the issue of the military institution must be approached calmly and wisely to achieve the desired results" did not come out of nowhere. 

They are working to find a legal solution that allows the Army Commander, Joseph Aoun, to remain in his position after January 10th, the date he reaches the legal retirement age. 

In the working meeting held by Mikati on Tuesday evening, the first attempt, which caused Defense Minister Maurice Sleem to express his displeasure after receiving an urgent letter from the Prime Minister titled "Submitting Proposals to Avoid the Expected Vacancy in the Army Leadership," which, according to him, was formulated in an unconventional manner.

However, this attempt is still on the verge of failure, especially if Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh joins the option of Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil in rejecting the extension. 

The legal solution is not yet clear, and some recall the incident of attempting to extend the term of General Security Director-General Abbas Ibrahim, which did not materialize, suggesting that the calculations for extending the term of the Army Commander may not be guaranteed.

On the other hand, informed sources indicate that the information suggests that the option of extending the term of the Army Commander is advancing over other options due to internal and external circumstances and intersections that necessitate the extension.

 More information will become clearer in the next stage. 

These sources also revealed the risks of a leadership vacuum in the army after the vacancy in the position of the Chief of Staff, and the proposal of some to rely on seniority alone will lead to the dispersion of the institution with each brigade commander returning to his political reference.

In addition, those close to Prime Minister Mikati were not surprised by the "relaxation" shown by the ministers affiliated with the Free Patriotic Movement after their participation in the working meeting chaired by Mikati two days ago to listen to Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib after his visit to the Syrian capital.

This is because the visit made by the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, to the Grand Serail at the beginning of his consultative tour appeared to be a prelude to reversing the boycott decision.

However, it became clear on Thursday that the Aoun-affiliated ministers have set a "basket of conditions" for their return, making each of them a "president," whether in terms of participating in the preparation of the agenda, amending it, making unanimous decisions in the cabinet, or signing decrees by the 24 ministers. 

Those close to Mikati say that the return of boycotting ministers is a serious subject of discussion. Still, the Prime Minister will not establish a new reality and will not give these ministers what he refused to grant since the start of his government's tenure in the caretaker capacity.

On the other hand, the positions announced by the leader of the Lebanese Forces party, Samir Geagea, were noteworthy, in which he stated that "Lebanon is in a state of war, and the key to preventing its expansion is in the hands of Berri and Mikati." 

He believed "the solution is to issue a parliamentary recommendation or a government decision to deploy the army and withdraw the armed groups from the south." 

He concluded by saying, "We are working on developing a new solution framework to keep the military institution safe from danger."
 

Lebanon News

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Lebanon

Lebanese Army

Joseph Aoun

Gaza

War

Israel

Iran

US

Hamas

Hezbollah

Nabih Berri

Najib Mikati

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