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The Army's Role - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I met General Michel Suleiman in his office at the [Lebanese] Army’s command and said to him you hear what the people are saying because the Lebanese are raising on television issues that are banned in any Arab country. The criticism stands say briefly that you did not intervene to protect the citizens because you feared for your position as the consensual candidate for the presidency of the republic.

Gen. Suleiman left his office and returned with a bunch of small maps. He said: “I am so far still a military man. The military man does not work on the basis of assumptions. There are facts before him through which he has to act. There can be a backing down on a decision in politics but it cannot be retrieved in the military except when it is too late. The situation erupted suddenly in front of us everywhere, from Beirut to the north to Al-Shawf, and always at the city centers. It looked to us immediately that the images of the civil war might be repeated. The army is in the end made up of humans and Lebanese and I do not want the political disease to decay it.

For three years our only work was to fortify the army’s cohesion. In the Lebanese system, you cannot object to the political decision but there are limits to the results of the political conflicts that do not cease or abate which the army can absorb. And what are the politicians doing? All they are doing is call for punishing the military when they carry out their duties. What will be the establishment’s reaction when it sees its officers in jails on the charge of using violence to stop the turmoil?”

What is your stand as the consensual candidate? To what extent did it affect your decision?

“What does the term consensual candidate from all the parties mean? It means that I am almost an elected president waiting for the vote session. I am not a candidate, a party, or a side and will not be so. I never calculated for a single moment what I would lose or win as the upcoming president. I only did what the military duty and responsibilities dictate tome. It was impossible to stop the fire with fire in a country that had been waiting for the fuse for two years?

Samir Atallah

Samir Atallah

Samir Atallah is a prominent Lebanese journalist, author and political analyst.

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