PARIS (Reuters) – World powers on Thursday vowed to support the Lebanese military to prevent its collapse amid the deepest political and economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war in the Middle Eastern nation, but did not announce any tangible aid. .
The military has long been viewed as one of the few institutions in Lebanon that can rally national pride and create unity. Its division along sectarian lines at the beginning of Lebanon’s civil war helped drive a demise to the militia rule.
Lebanese army chief Joseph Aoun told Thursday’s meeting of world powers, which was hosted by France, that the nation would face dire consequences if the country’s crisis persisted and military wages continued to fall.
“How can a soldier support a family on a salary that does not exceed $ 90?” he said in a video, posted on the army’s Twitter account.
“If not mitigated, the economic and financial crisis will inevitably lead to the collapse of all state institutions, including the Lebanese Armed Forces, the backbone of the country,” he said.
France, which has led international efforts to help Lebanon, hosted the virtual meeting with partners including the United States, Russia, China and European powers and some Persian Gulf states, though not Saudi Arabia.
Participating countries were asked to provide food, medical supplies, spare parts for military equipment and even fuel, although they were not asked to pay salaries directly.
Two diplomats said not much was offered during the meeting, although most countries were willing to offer bilateral support in the future. They said a follow-up mechanism would monitor and coordinate any aid.
Paris has tried to increase pressure on disputed Lebanese politicians, but has so far failed to pressure them into forming a new government that is vital to unlocking foreign aid.
Discontent has been brewing in the security forces as Lebanon’s currency has lost 90% of its value against the dollar, reducing soldiers’ salaries. Many have accepted additional jobs. Some have resigned.
The French Ministry of the Armed Forces said participants in Thursday’s meeting “highlighted the dire and degrading economic and social conditions in Lebanon.”
According to the ministry statement, the participants said that the army “remains a crucial pillar of the Lebanese state,” adding: “Its cohesion and professionalism remain key to preserving the stability of the riskiest country.”
The ministry did not respond to a request for more information.
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