| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

France, partners seek urgent aid to help Lebanese Army, says French official

After failed attempts to gather Lebanon’s warring parties to agree on new government and initiate reforms to unlock foreign cash, Paris has sought to increase pressure on the country’s warring parties.

currency crisis has wiped off the majority of the value of Lebanon’s security forces’ paychecks, causing discontent within the country’s security forces. 
To address this, France will convene virtual summit on Thursday with partners from the US, Russia, China, European nations, and the Gulf Arab region.
Since late 2019, Lebanon’s pound has lost 90 percent of its value versus the dollar, posing the worst danger to stability since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Army chief Joseph Aoun was in France in May to warn of an increasingly untenable situation with salaries falling five or six fold in value, forcing many to take extra jobs and some to leave the army altogether.

“The Lebanese army is the pillar in Lebanon and ensures that the security situation in the country doesn’t degenerate so it’s an immediate interest to help them carry out their mission,” an official at the French Armed Forces Ministry told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The official, who said the kind of support being envisaged was just a temporary solution, said the conference would not seek to pay wages but rather offer food, medical supplies, spare parts for military equipment and even fuel.

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.

Asked whether the French initiative could save the army in the long term, the official said: “When you are in an emergency room in hospital, you don’t think about how much blood you will need in two or three months. It’s the same here.”

  • Reuters