Due to the country’s ongoing presidential void, Lebanon will forgo its customary military parade on Tuesday in lieu of its 79th Independence Day celebrations. Army chiefs said the decision had been made with the “national interest” in mind and to maintain “security and stability.”
Addressing troops on Monday, army commander, Gen. Joseph Aoun, said: “Our country is going through exceptional circumstances that require everyone, officials, and citizens, to be aware, wise, responsible, and cooperate for the sake of the supreme national interest while waiting for the political situation to be rectified and order to be restored.
“Independence is the fruit of the honorable struggle waged by the Lebanese, just as it is the fruit of the fateful challenges they faced and overcame with their unity and determination, leading to building a homeland on solid foundations, so we must preserve and protect it.”
He emphasized that the most recent deal on the sea border between Israel and Lebanon had been “an important step” in the nation’s rehabilitation and an investment in its natural resources.
“This achievement needs state institutions to protect and accompany it, for the benefit of the country and the Lebanese.
“Amid the presidential vacuum and the prevailing political tensions, maintaining security and stability remains our top priority. We will not allow any violation or destabilization of civil peace for certain objectives.
“Our mission was and will remain to preserve Lebanon, its people, and its land,” Aoun added. The general praised the soldiers’ composure in the face of the nation’s ongoing economic crisis.
“You have maintained your morals in dealing with all the events and incidents that our country has experienced. With your oath and vigilance, you protected Lebanon and will continue to protect it until the last drop of blood.”
He declared that in order to maintain stability in the south, the army would continue to work in concert with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon.
“The confidence of the Lebanese and the international community have in you is proof of the importance of your role, so do not weaken in the face of dangers, and do not tire of campaigns of profiteering and false accusations,” he added.
Aoun publicly chastised the political leadership in February for failing to address the issue, stating that soldiers were experiencing the same economic challenges as Lebanese civilians.
Since then, food and medical supplies have been given to Lebanon’s armed forces by Arab and other nations.
Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, the director general of general security, spoke to the military as well. He claimed that Lebanon had never seen such high levels of sectarianism and regionalism, along with the dismantling of state institutions.
“We need to be ready for what might happen, especially as we are responsible before the Lebanese to preserve and protect the homeland,” he added.
Ibrahim pointed out that states were founded on constitutional institutions and a commitment to uphold the law, not on personal commitments.
Maj. Gen. Tony Saliba, director general of State Security, told troops: “Power vacuum does not at all mean a security vacuum. Our top priority is to protect the country from the Israeli enemy, terrorism, and corruption.”
Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian urged MPs, “to take an initiative on the occasion of Independence Day by agreeing to elect a new president who has the characteristics that remind us of the independence leaders who fought and sacrificed for their homeland.
“The situation in Lebanon will not be corrected except by electing a president, forming a government, and restoring Lebanese-Arab relations, especially with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Otherwise, we are only wasting time.”
Lebanon delayed holding its annual Independence Day military parade on the shoreline of the city during the coronavirus outbreak and after the explosion at the Beirut port on November 22.
In 2021, former president Michel Aoun, parliament speaker Nabih Berri, and acting prime minister Najib Mikati attended a symbolic military parade at the army headquarters in the Yarzeh region.
In Lebanon, the current economic crisis has put unprecedented strain on the army’s operational capabilities, leaving soldiers with low morale and meager pay as political tensions continue to rise and crime and poverty rates surge.
On Monday, members of the caretaker government placed wreaths on the graves of the independence pioneers.
Schoolchildren commemorated Flag Day, which occurs the day before Independence Day, while the Lebanese flag was flown at half-mast over the presidential palace.