Energy-rich Qatar has given Lebanon’s cash-strapped armed forces $60 million, the foreign ministry in Doha announced Thursday.
“The announcement comes within the framework of the State of Qatar’s firm commitment to support the Republic of Lebanon,” the ministry said in a statement.
Lebanon is grappling with an unprecedented financial crisis, branded by the World Bank as one of the planet’s worst since the 1850s.
The small Mediterranean country defaulted on its debt in 2020, the local currency has lost around 90 percent of its value on the black market, and the UN now considers four in five Lebanese to be poor.
The economic crisis has eaten away at the value of soldiers’ salaries and slashed the military’s budget for maintenance and equipment.
At one point in 2020, Lebanon’s army said it had scrapped meat from the meals offered to on-duty soldiers due to rising food prices.
And in June last year it said it would offer tourists helicopter rides in a bid to boost its coffers.
On Thursday, a Lebanese military source told AFP that financial assistance from Qatar would help pay the salaries of Lebanese soldiers.
The Qatari announcement came as the Gulf state’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani was visiting Lebanon.
The aid, Qatar said, reflects Doha’s support for the “brotherly Lebanese people and its firm belief in the importance and necessity of joint Arab action.”
In July 2021, year, Qatar announced it would supply Lebanon’s army with 70 tonnes of foodstuff per month for a year.
Lebanon’s financial crisis has been widely blamed on corruption and mismanagement by the ruling elite that has dominated the country since the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990.
International donors, including wealthy Gulf Arab nations, have preconditioned assistance on key reforms being implemented.
In April, the International Monetary Fund announced that a conditional agreement had been reached to provide Lebanon with $3 billion in aid.
It warned, however, that the aid to help the economy recover hinged on the implementation of reforms, including a financial recovery plan.
Some of Lebanon’s Gulf Arab allies have also held off funds following a diplomatic dispute last year over the growing dominance of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement.