Saudi Arabia has cancelled its 3 billion dollars pledge to the Lebanese army. Whatever the pretext, something is becoming increasingly clear: no one wants to properly equip the Lebanese army.
Why? It’s very simple: a strong Lebanese army means keeping Israel at bay, securing all borders with Syria and harnessing Palestinians militias still roaming free in refugee camps. A strong Lebanese army means no excuses for Hezbollah to keep its arsenal and foreign powers to keep meddling in our affairs.
In so many words: a strong Lebanese army means a truly independent Lebanon. And a truly independent Lebanon is not something international, regional and local powerbrokers want.
Lebanon needs to stay weak, needy, divided. It needs to remain in a permanent state of war, sometimes cold, sometimes hot. A chessboard where different players send messages to each other, a bargaining chip to use whenever necessary.
The 3 billion were promised over two years ago. The deal was simple: Saudi Arabia gives the money to France and France gives weapons and equipment to the Lebanese army.
But it never happened. It kept being delayed and delayed. Some talked of shady commissions distributed to some obscure go-between, others about Israeli pressure on France.
In fact it was used as a pressure tool on Lebanon. Do this, say that, or no billions for you! Yesterday, it was cancelled altogether. At least, that had the merit to be clear.
Today, all of us Lebanese need to take a stance in favor of our army. This army so badly unequipped but so heroic when it matters. An army of lions without whom there will be no more Lebanon.
We all need to say to anyone who puts condition on its military aid, anyone who want something in return, that the Lebanese army is not for sale, the Lebanese army is not for rent, the Lebanese army is not for bargain, the Lebanese army bteswa ra2betkon.
© Claude El Khal, 2016