World powers promise help to Lebanese army

Soldiers' salaries have fallen five or six-fold in value, forcing many to take extra jobs or leave the army

In this undated photo released by the Lebanese Army official website, Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun poses for a picture, in Beirut, Lebanon. The currency collapse has wiped out the salaries of the U.S.-backed Lebanese military, placed unprecedented pressure on the army's operational capabilities with some of the highest attrition rates over the past two years, and raised concerns about its ability to continue playing a stabilizing role while sectarian tensions and crime are on the rise.(Lebanese Army Website via AP)
Powered by automated translation

World powers on Thursday agreed to provide support for the Lebanese army to prevent it from collapsing as the country's economic and political crisis worsens.

France, which has led international efforts, has tried to increase pressure on Lebanon's politicians after failed attempts to have them agree on a new government and introduce reforms to unlock foreign funds.

Discontent is brewing among Lebanon's security forces over a currency crisis that has greatly reduced  the value of their wages.

Paris organised an online meeting with partners including the US, Russia, China and European powers and some Gulf states.

At the event, Mohammed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs, affirmed the UAE's support and encouragement for the French attempts to support and enhance security and stability of the Middle East region, especially in Lebanon.

Mr Al Bowardi said the circumstances for the Lebanese people were exceptional and required the concerted efforts of all, state news agency Wam reported.

He said the stability of the Lebanese army and provision of basic support were necessary for the stability and security of the country's society, and that the UAE was following the situation with concern.

Mr Al Bowardi said the Emirates looked forward to Lebanon's security, stability and prosperity as its challenges were overcome.

Lebanon's pound has lost 90 per cent of its value against the dollar since late 2019, in a financial meltdown that poses the biggest threat to stability since the country's 1975-1990 civil war.

"The participants highlighted the dire and steadily degrading economic and social conditions in Lebanon," the French Armed Forces Ministry said.

"In this context, they stressed that the LAF, yet overstretched, remains a crucial pillar of the Lebanese state.

"Their cohesiveness and professionalism remain key to preserving the country’s stability from more risks."

Participants said Army Chief Gen Joseph Aoun warned of the increasingly untenable situation, but said that the institution remained strong.

Salaries have fallen five or six-fold in value, forcing many to take extra jobs or leave the army.

Countries were asked to provide support in the form of food, medical supplies, spare parts for military equipment and even fuel, but salaries would not be paid.

Two diplomats said most countries had shown a willingness to provide aid and that a follow-up system to monitor and co-ordinate would be used.

The army has long been seen as one of the few institutions in Lebanon that can rally national pride and create unity.

Its collapse at the start of the civil war, when it split along sectarian lines, led to Lebanon's descent into militia rule.