Lebanese govt a failure – what about the army?

Nayla Tueni

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I and most Lebanese people do not understand what is currently going on in the city of Sidon and what happened before in the areas of Tripoli, Aarsal, Brital and along Beirut's Airport road and other areas. There were abductions and clashes as well as security chaos suggesting the disintegration of the state until Interior Minister Marwan Charbel admitted in a televised interview that security apparatuses have no authority over certain areas and groups and that security was political and not military. It is a truth that we whisper and avoid disclosing.

This talk reminds us of a previous statement that did not only criticize the performance of military and security institutions but also questioned the presence of these institutions and the plenty of funds spent on them without an equivalent result. This confirms that the political decision made by the Higher Defense Council a few days ago to prevent Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir from dragging the country into strife. When Assir was informed of that and when he was he given an ultimatum to limit his actions, he retreated. This confirms the effectiveness of the political decision.

On the other hand, the question is why this decision was not made before Hezbollah decisively informed the Lebanese cabinet that it will not submit to Sheikh Assir and his will. This is an additional proof that the government also works under threats and pressure and that when it makes up its mind, it can control the situation even if it only partially does so.

The government is a failure because it is formed of parties that mostly cover up for wrongdoings. Its prime minister continues to cover up for the Sunni extremists, even if they oppose him. Most politicians look into issues while either considering the elections or the sect and while of course considering the interests of their allies. The country’s interests is the last of their concerns.

The Lebanese had some hope in the army. Next thing we know, politics involved it in “civil peace issues” turning the institution’s work into one that finalizes reconciliations instead of taking decisive measures that impose the state’s prestige.

In 1975, the army was languor due to a political will, and it detonated the country into a civil war that lasted for 15 years. It is unacceptable today to repeat the same sin. What is requested today from the army commander is for history to record that he was capable of imposing security in one of the most critical phases in Lebanon’s history, of preventing the Syrian strife from extending to us and of preventing those inciting domestic strife from pushing the country into a Sunni-Shiite fighting that topples Lebanon’s Christians - like in Iraq or perhaps in Syria - and that destroys the entire country.

If strife happens, God forbids, positions, leaderships and presidencies will not remain. Weeping and gnashing of teeth will not benefit anyone. Therefore, it seems that decisiveness is vital today before it is too late. There is no need to solicit the politicians’ opinions during the elections’ season.

This article first appeared in Lebanon-based Annahar on March 4, 2013.

(Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column. She can be followed on Twitter @NaylaTueni)

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