News / Middle East

Lebanon Calls for Support for Army to Counter Syria Fallout

A general view of the area where clashes erupted between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad, near the Sunni neighborhood of Tariq Jadideh, in Beirut, Lebanon,  March 23, 2014.
A general view of the area where clashes erupted between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad, near the Sunni neighborhood of Tariq Jadideh, in Beirut, Lebanon, March 23, 2014.
Lebanon's foreign minister called on Arab countries on Monday to support the Lebanese army to counter fallout from Syria's civil war, which he said threatened to tear the country apart.
Around 1 million Syrian refugees have fled to Lebanon, a displacement that has strained public infrastructure and threatened to upset the sectarian balance.
This “is threatening the existence of Lebanon”, Gebran Bassil told reporters before a meeting of Arab League leaders in Kuwait on Tuesday.
“This would create a danger also to the whole [of] humanity, because if the Lebanese model would vanish, then a big clash is to be expected between civilisations, religions and all aspects or differences in the world,” he said, speaking English.
Power in Lebanon is split between Shi'ites, Sunnis, Druze and Christian leaders - reflecting the mixed population - and many fear that Sunni refugees, who represent the majority in Syria, could disrupt the fragile demographic balance.
Communal tensions in Lebanon were stoked last week by the fall of the Syrian border town of Yabroud to Syrian government forces and their allies in the Lebanese Shi'ite political and military movement Hezbollah.
The fighting prompted a chain reaction of car bomb and rocket attacks, roadblocks and protests along sectarian lines that took days to calm and revived memories of Lebanon's own 1975-90 civil war.
Bassil, who became foreign minister in a cabinet formed last month, said a preparatory meeting with his Arab counterparts on Sunday discussed Syria's conflict, now in its fourth year, the refugees and support for the Lebanese army.
“We hope that these decisions will be translated into reality by direct and tangible help and aid to Lebanon in backing the army, because the army of Lebanon is fighting terrorism for all the Arabs and all the world,” he said.
Bassil said the only way to protect Lebanon and its borders was to give additional support to the army. Saudi Arabia donated $3 billion to the army in December for upgrades and asked France to supply weapons using a large proportion of these funds.
“We cannot live with new military camps, whether Syrians or others, inside Lebanon,” he said. “Support for the army is something real for facing this coming danger.”
Lebanon is already home to large camps for displaced Palestinians where state authority does not fully extend. Many Lebanese trace the origins of their own civil war to militarisation in the camps in the 1970s.
Lebanon's military nowadays is religiously mixed but some Syrian rebels and Lebanese have accused it of being in thrall to Hezbollah, which has sent fighters to support President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Shi'ite-derived Alawite minority.
In a video posted online this week, influential Lebanese Sunni militant leader and cleric Ahmad al-Assir called for Sunnis to defect from the army.
Bassil is a member of the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian party allied to Hezbollah in the country's coalition government.

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Comment Sorting
by: Not Again from: Canada
March 24, 2014 2:35 PM
Lebanon's army= is a figment of the imagination of many ignorant people. The so called "Lebanese Army" (LA) is in essence an extension of Hezbollah. Lebanon would not be in such a dire situation, if it really had an independent, unbiased army. This so called LA allows Hezbollah forces to use Lebanon as a training Base, arms strorage depot, and in no way impedes the flow of Hezbollah fighters, their weapons, their support suplies, to and from Lebanon, so that Hezbollah forces can freely involve themselves in providing full combat and support action for Assad and its chronies. Hezbollahs involvement has been documented by almost every reliable news org.

It is precisly the failure of the LA that has endangered the stability of the Lebanese state. It is astonishing that any one would blame the traumatized Sunni Muslim refugees, mainly women and children for any instability in Lebanon. This type of articles, in VOA, show that the information is not scrutinized, to ensure its correctnes because of lack of staff, or it is deliberatly planted to give the World a view, that somehow the LA is an effective, efficent or unbiased force. As far as the balance of the diverse communities, it is in fact the failure of the LA to rein in Hezbollah, that has destroyed the balance of power, in Lebanon. Far more information is available, many incidents, that demonstrates that the LA is a biased force; essentially when an incident occurs, if the Sunni population are victimized, the LA does not show up, or it only shows up well after the incident is over; when an incident occurrs in a Hezbollah location, with Hezbollah victims, the LA responds immediately. Not Again - another report that needs review/ needs credibility for it paints a distorted image of the situation in Lebanon.

by: Joe from: Lebanon
March 24, 2014 11:31 AM
Lebanon's "Army"...? what are you kidding me...? let me tell you some thing America... Lebanon is no "country" and the "Army" is a collection of criminal thieves sponsored by the US EU just like the corrupt Palestinian "Authority" - its a shell. and it has become a shell because of the Hizbulla cancer that ate it away.

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