Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Lebanese president Michel Suleiman criticized Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian crisis during the celebrations of Army Day in Beirut on Thursday.
In the speech to new military academy graduates at the Shukri Ghanem barracks in Fayadieh, the Lebanese president spoke on several issues, against the backdrop of the political crisis engulfing the country.
In a reference to Hezbollah’s growing embroilment in the civil war in Syria, Suleiman called on it to “reconsider [the country’s] defensive strategy, especially after the resistance [Hezbollah’s] weapons went beyond the Lebanese borders.”
“We will not be late to form a government that protects national interests rather than quotas,” he said, and pledged to “protect [state] institutions and democracy as well as fortify the military.”
Commenting on the role of the military in the political standoff in the country, Suleiman stressed that “the military cannot fill the governmental and political gaps or tackle sectarian and religious rifts.”
“Gone are the days when the Army was prevented from defending Lebanon,” Suleiman said, adding, “[The military] will not act as a disengagement force between Lebanese militias.”
The Lebanese president insisted that plans to arm and provide the military with equipment will be undertaken in order for it to “exclusively control the requirements to defend the sovereignty and borders of Lebanon, and ensure the safety of its oil wealth.”
Speaking for the first time after his term as the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces has been extended for two years, Gen. Jean Kahwaji announced that the military “will spare no effort to thwart dangers,” imploring Suleiman to “provide [the military] with the cover required to ensure security and end sedition.”
The ceremony to mark Army Day was attended by caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati, speaker of parliament Nabih Berri, prime minister-designate Tammam Salam, and armed forces chief Jean Kahwaji.