Army commander General Jean Kahwagi called on troops Sunday to close ranks and protect Lebanon from the ramifications of popular upheavals currently sweeping the Arab world. He also alerted military personnel to be vigilant against terror groups seeking to destabilize the country.
Addressing troops in the Order of the Day on the 68th anniversary of Lebanon’s Independence Day, which falls Tuesday, Kahwagi said, “Amid the difficult labor through which the Arab region is passing and [amid] the feverish race between democracy for which peoples are calling [for] and the chaos that might be created by successive events as a result of a clash of interests and concepts and the absence of clear visions, I call on you to close ranks and work hard in order to protect Lebanon from the repercussions of these events.
“While carrying out this noble duty, always remember the principles that have been upheld by your people since their independence, be it with regard to adhering to their unique civilized model and their history in exercising democracy and public freedoms, or with regard to their commitment to the positive stance required toward the regional conflicts, except their known stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Let it be known that relinquishing these principles will threaten the civil peace process and national unity,” he said.
Kahwagi’s speech came as the Arab world is recoiling from popular uprisings that have so far led to the overthrow of the autocratic presidents of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, while protests for democratic change have continued in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain since early this year.
He highlighted the role of the military in maintaining the country’s unity and independence. “This independence had been achieved by your people 68 years ago as a result of their adherence to their free decision and their steadfastness in rejecting all forms of occupation and mandate,” he said.
Apparently referring the tripartite equation of the army, the people and the resistance adopted by the government in its policy statement as the best means to defend Lebanon against a possible Israel attack, Kahwagi said, “National duty calls on you more than ever to be fully ready in solidarity with your resisting people and in close cooperation with the U.N. [peacekeeping] forces [in the south] to confront the designs of the Israeli enemy which continues to violate the sovereignty of Lebanese territories, publicly declares its ambitions to our natural wealth and tries through its agents to spread its poisons in the fabric of our united society.”
He praised the Lebanese soldiers’ “brave” fight against Israeli troops in the borders villages of Adaysseh and Wazzani, saying that this reflected “a will to confront this treacherous enemy.”
“Your national unity also calls on you to be strict in protecting security and stability through a continued surveillance of terror networks and destroying them in the bud, controlling the land and marine borders and dealing firmly with those who exploit the external circumstances and local contradictions in an attempt to tamper with the citizens’ security, freedom and dignity,” Kahwagi said.
He assured the troops that the army command was working to meet their needs for arms and equipment and to improve their socio-economic conditions and preserve their moral and material rights.
Meanwhile, President Michel Sleiman will travel Monday to Rashaya in southeast Lebanon where he will deliver his speech on Independence Day from the town’s citadel in an unprecedented symbolic move aimed at reviving the memory of the Lebanese to the significance of the event. Tuesday, Nov. 22, marks the 68th anniversary of Lebanon’s independence from France.
In addition to ministers and lawmakers, Monday’s Independence Eve ceremony will also be attended by about 100 political, social and spiritual figures.
Sleiman will be the first Lebanese head of state to address the Lebanese on the eve of Independence Day from Rashaya where Lebanon’s early national leaders were imprisoned by French Mandate authorities for their struggle for independence.
Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2011/Nov-21/154701-kahwagi-calls-for-military-unity-to-protect-lebanon-from-arab-unrest-fallout.ashx#ixzz1eRBNzgj3  (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb )
By Hussein Dakroub