Lebanon’s army is at the eye of the storm again

Mohamed Chebarro
Mohamed Chebarro - Mohamed Chebarro
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The Lebanese army's latest communique that it will preserve peace in the country at all costs reflects naivety. The move to release such a statement is either a sign of miscalculation or complete detachment from reality coming from a military body that is semi-united in a country that is divided.

The army warned that a plot was afoot to embroil the country in the 26-month conflict in neighboring Syria, as fatal clashes between Syrian regime supporters and opponents inside Lebanon multiply.

“The army command... calls on citizens to be wary of plots aimed at taking Lebanon backwards and dragging it into an absurd war,” a statement said, adding that it would give an “armed response to any armed action.”

“The army command has been trying for several months to work firmly, determinedly and patiently to prevent Lebanon being turned into a battlefield for regional conflicts and to prevent any spillover of the events in Syria,” it said.

“But in recent days, some groups have seemed determined to stoke security tensions... against the backdrop of the political divisions in Lebanon over military developments in Syria.”

In Lebanon, it is no secret that Hezbollah is the main powerbroker. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) statement threatening to respond to the use of force with paralleled force could ignite the already sensitive situation.

With a fractured Syria, in which rebels have been fighting the regime since March 2011, odds of the conflict spilling over into its neighboring country increase as time goes by.

Mohamed Chebarro

However, the communique was not clear to what it was referring; whether it was the ongoing sectarian violence in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, the Syrian regime's air raids, the Syrian rebels' targeting of Hezbollah strongholds in response to the militia's involvement in the Syrian conflict, or Israel's repeated violations of Lebanese air space.

Order and security in Lebanon have always been a result coming through a web of political consensus. Has the caretaker cabinet of Prime Minister Najib Miqati finally managed to unify its ranks and give the LAF the green light to go after all those disturbing the peace in the various Lebanese cities?

Clearly, the Lebanese army has an impossible task of keeping the peace in an extremely fragile situation, in which lines dividing the country have increased day by day following the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. It is a country in which some political players have decided to replace Syrian influence in Lebanon by becoming clients of Damascus in the small Mediterranean country.

With a fractured Syria, in which rebels have been fighting the regime since March 2011, odds of the conflict spilling over into its neighboring country increase as time goes by. However, through its communique, the LAF is further sedating Lebanese public opinion.

Lebanon, a country marred by divisions, a caretaker cabinet at the helm of its executive power, a legislature almost completely paralyzed, the Lebanese army is sending out a call of despair.

Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News program Editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC news and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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