August 2, 2021

Paris at the bedside of the Lebanese army, undermined by the economic crisis

In March, General Joseph Aoun, head of the Lebanese army, broke with his duty of reserve and questioned the leaders of the Cedar country in unusually abrupt terms. ” Where are we going ? What are you waiting for? What do you think you will do ? “, said the senior officer. A reference to the economic tornado sweeping through Lebanon and to the apathy of the political class, unable to agree on the formation of a new government, to replace Hassan Diab’s cabinet, driven to resign by the explosion at the Port of Beirut, August 4, 2020. “Just like the people, the soldiers suffer and are hungry, added General Aoun, warning against a situation « explosive », due to the fall of the national currency and the hyperinflation raging in the country.

Three months later, the response of Lebanese officials to this rant is still pending. Quarrels over portfolio continue to prevent the constitution of a new executive, increasing poverty a little further every day, which now affects more than half of the population.

Suddenly, the French authorities, who received Joseph Aoun in May, decided to come to his aid. Paris is organizing this Thursday, June 17, an international videoconference in support of the Lebanese army, a “Pillar institution that helps prevent the security situation in the country from deteriorating sharply”, we explain to the office of the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly.

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Define the contours of emergency aid

About twenty countries are expected to participate in this meeting, including members of the international support group in Lebanon, which includes in addition to France, the United States, Russia, China, Germany, Italy and the Gulf States. . The event aims to define the contours of emergency aid, in the order of a few tens of millions of euros, responding to precisely identified needs: food rations, medicines, fuel, lubricant, spare parts for vehicles, such as tires, batteries, etc.

According to those around Mme Parly, who will open the conference with his Italian counterparts Lorenzo Guerini and Lebanese Zeina Akkar, there is no question of delivering structural aid to the Lebanese army in the form of equipment, as has been the case in the past. , or even to pay part of the salary of the 80,000 soldiers in the country. The international community makes all budgetary or long-term support for the Cedar country conditional on the adoption of a plan to consolidate its banking sector and the implementation of governance reforms.

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