August the First was Army Day in Lebanon and the country's President, Elias Sarkis, and Prime Minister Selim Al-Hoss, officiated at ceremony in Beirut to mark the event.
August the First was Army Day in Lebanon and the country's President, Elias Sarkis, and Prime Minister Selim Al-Hoss, officiated at ceremony in Beirut to mark the event. The Lebanese Army is slowly beginning to play a more prominent role alongside the foreign armies and private militias in Lebanon. Although the weakest and least motivated armed organisation within the country, the Army is now beginning to show signs of life.
SYNOPSIS: The march-past was attended by President Elias Sarkis and Prime Minister Selim Al-Hoss, who has only recently (16 July) succeeded in forming a new government after two months of political vacuum. President Sarkis took the opportunity to address the troops and noted the close link between the future of the army and the future of the country. He made an urgent appeal to Lebanese youth to join the army rather than private factions, and to fight for their country.
All the Lebanese factions say publicly that the Army is the only legitimate armed force and should be rebuilt to restore law and order. In practice, however, the armed elements dominating the country hold the Army in contempt. No-one is prepared to rely on it to protect their interests. But the Army is struggling to gain respectability. The top command has been recognised so it is no longer dominated by Christians, and new recruits and equipment are arriving. But the struggle ahead will be a long one.