Lebanese Patriarch Wants Army Control

Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, is the Patriarch of Lebanon’s Maronite Christians. On Sunday, he appealed for the Lebanese army to take control of the southern part of the country, which is currently dominated by Hezbollah. The army needs to do this if Lebanon is to fully implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which calls for the UNIFIL peacekeeping force to ensure the area is not used for hostile activities of any kind.

Lebanon`s Maronite Christian PatriarchBechara Boutros al-Rahi (photo by Piotr Rymuza via Wikipedia)

The Patriarch called for this army control to prevent the launching of missiles from Lebanese territory, “not for the sake of Israel’s safety, but rather for the safety of Lebanon.”

He said he could not accept “by virtue of equality before the law, that a party decides peace and war outside the decision of legality and the national decision entrusted to two-thirds of the members of the government.”

And he went on to explain that:

“It is true that Lebanon has not signed peace with Israel, but it is also true that
Lebanon has not decided war with it and is officially committed to the 1949 truce.”

Bechara Boutros al-Rahi made the appeal at Sunday Mass this week, looking for Lebanon’s government to finally exert control over the south of the country and prevent Hezbollah using the area as a base to launch attacks on Israel.

He expressed the desire of many Lebanese when he said:

“We do not want to involve Lebanon in military operations
that provoke 
devastating Israeli reactions.”

His opposition to Hezbollah clearly prompted much criticism, as Lebanon’s President, Michel Aoun, was moved on Tuesday to warn that insults must be avoided to safeguard national unity.

President Aoun is said to be a Maronite ally of Hezbollah, yet he condemned the campaigns to which al-Rahi was being subjected and emphasized that freedom of speech is protected by Lebanon’s constitution.

Hezbollah itself has not commented on the Patriarch’s call, but on social media Hezbollah supporters accused him of surrender and supporting Zionism.

Lebanon is suffering one of the world’s worst economic crises in more than a century, with its currency collapsed and more than half its people no longer able to afford enough food.