Paris / Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Whilst the debate in Lebanon continues with regards to the issue of arming the Lebanese army, a high level French official informed Asharq Al-Awsat that French Defense Minister Herve Morin had sent a letter to his Lebanese counterpart Elias Murr in May – via the French Army Chief of Staff who was visiting Lebanon at the time – informing him that Paris was “ready” to deliver 100 HOT missiles to Beirut. The HOT [High Subsonic Optical Remote-Guided Fired from Tube] missiles is a long-range anti-tank missile system designed by Euromissile that Beirut want to arm its French-designed Gazelle army helicopters with.
The French official acknowledged that Israel “protested” the French decision [to provide Lebanon with arms] and that Washington raised “question marks” over this arms deal. However he also “categorically denied” that Paris had “given in to pressure” and that this was behind the deal not being completed.
The senior French official placed the blame for this arms deal’s failure or delay upon Lebanon, citing the state of “confusion” that the Lebanese administration is suffering from, especially with regards to defense affairs.