Lebanese Army Antics
When Israel was building a barrier along the Lebanese-Palestinian border recently – in violation of the armistice agreement of 1949 which Israel violates year after year – the Lebanese Army stood by to protect the Israeli terrorist state from attacks by Lebanese.
The Lebanese Army has consistency shirked its responsibility in protecting Lebanon from successive Israeli aggression, invasions, and raids. Now the Lebanese Army has believed the lie: that it is part of the formula of resistance to Israeli occupation and aggression. In reality, the Lebanese Army stood by year after year when Israel bombed and destroyed Lebanon.
From the very early phase of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Lebanese Army has been the worst army in terms of assuming responsibility vis-à-vis Israeli occupation. In 1948, the Lebanese Army did a typically lousy job and even violated the Arab League agreement in which the army was supposed to enter Palestine to shore up defense of the Palestinian territory. It did no such thing. In fact, it consistently sent secret messages to the effect that it has nothing to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In the first meeting of the armistice committee, the Lebanese Delegation (according to a declassified Israeli Hebrew document) began the meeting by telling the Israelis that Lebanon is not an Arab country, and that they could care less about what happens to the Palestinians.
Over the years, the Fouad Chehab Doctrine prevailed in Lebanese politics. According to it, Lebanon refuses to play any role in joint Arab defense. Months prior to the 1967 war, the Syrian government made a request to the Lebanese government to deploy troops in Eastern Lebanon to widen Syrian strategic depth. Typically, the Lebanese government refused.
What the Lebanese Army did not do on the front with Israel, it did against the Palestinian refugees. Lebanese Army took over the camps in the 1960s and terrorized the Palestinian population. A curfew was imposed, and Lebanese Army thugs were notorious for sexually harassing the women of the camps.
There was a clear plan to render services to the Israeli enemy. Contacts between the Lebanese Army and Israeli occupiers, never ceased through the decades. Saad Haddad – contrary to popular belief – did not begin his contacts with Israel in 1975, but in 1972 (the year when Israelis invaded Lebanon). There was no Hezbollah back then.
The recent flare up of tensions and protests in the Nahr al-Bared camp were triggered by Lebanese Army harassment of the camps. The Lebanese Army is only allowed to arm by the US government for the repression of the Lebanese civilian population and that of the camps. No arms are allowed to defend Lebanon from Israel. That task is undertaken by a band of Lebanese volunteers that US is keen on disarming.
In fact, when a Lebanese Army officer shot at Israeli occupiers months ago, the matter became a diplomatic scandal between Lebanon and the US, and successive Lebanese Army delegations visited Washington to reassure the US Congress that no such incidents would occur again.
Yet, the Lebanese Army is trigger happy against Palestinian refugees. What happened at Nahr al-Bared in 2007 was nothing short of a massacre. I visited the Nahr al-Bared camp in 2010 to give a lecture at the invitation of the residents. Those who enter the camp have to stop first at an office of Lebanese Army intelligence (run by highly incompetent and rude officers who did not appreciate my sarcastic comments about their mission).
The residents of the camp complain not only about the terrible massacre that was committed against them but about the living conditions of the camp and the new structures forced on them. The new metal structures where they are supposed to live, are terribly hot in the summer and the people are forced to sleep outside of their homes for ventilation.
The Lebanese Army continues to harass the Palestinians on their way in and out of the camp. Lebanese racism and patriotism never questions brutal tactics of the Army against the Palestinians. Desperate for real or imagined acts of heroism, the Lebanese Army was able to sell the massacre at Nahr al-Bared as a heroic act of which the nation should be proud. And just as the Army was seen as the army of Maronites prior to the civil war, many Shia now view the Army as their own army, which explains the popularity of the Army in Shia quarters. Numbers speak.
The Lebanese Army may be looking for another “victory” (i.e. massacre). The Lebanese population rarely protests against its army. The world never notices when Palestinians are being repressed or killed by Israel or by Arab regimes. It is time that we speak up against the brutality of a failed army that has specialized only in silly parades and in the public consumption of…snakes.
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