TRANSLATED: Report says Lebanese Army in negotiations with Russia over advanced arms deal
Translated tonight by our Mideastwire.com:
On July 15, the An-Nahar daily newspaper carried the following piece by Rajeh al-Khoury: “All the wishes that Jean-Marc Ayrault brought along to Beirut will change nothing in the situation that he referred to after his talks in Bkirki where he said: “The Lebanese people are now facing a very difficult situation. There are tragic repercussions and security threats resulting from the war in Syria and the refugees fleeing to the neighboring countries mainly Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.”
“There is nothing new there since the French President Francois Hollande had already seen the same situation when he visited Lebanon on April 14. For this reason, the following question seems warranted: What can the French foreign minister offer to Lebanon besides the pieces of advice and wishes that Hollande had previously offered by recommending that the politicians reach an agreement and rescue the country by electing a president, one who would relaunch the action of the paralyzed state institutions?
“The essence of the visit consisted of the meeting with Speaker Birri who reminded Ayrault of France’s previous and ongoing commitments to supporting the Lebanese army and of the importance and need to release the three billion dollars endowment aimed at supplying the Lebanese army with French weapons. The focus on the armament is of major importance for a number of reasons such as:
“First, the rise in the terrorist threats against Lebanon, the last of which consisted of the El-Qaa attacks; and the rise in the number of terrorist cells that are being uncovered and dismantled in Lebanon; in addition to the growing pressure against ISIL and An-Nusra in Syria and Iraq, which is exacerbating the threat represented by their cells outside [Syria and Iraq].
“Second, Ayrault announced that the French cabinet is preparing for a meeting to be attended by the international work group for Lebanon in New York during the upcoming month of September… Third, the Special Coordinator for the United Nations in Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, asked the Security Council to provide additional support for Lebanon and said that this support is a need rather than a luxury especially in light of the growing terrorist threats…
“Fourth, the Lebanese ambassador to Moscow, Shawki Bou Nassar, spoke to the Russian Sputnik agency where he revealed that the Lebanese State is conducting lengthy negotiations with Moscow with the aim of obtaining a Russian weapons’ deal including T-72 tanks, Kornet missiles, and canons in order to enhance its ability to engage in the escalating battles and confrontations with the terrorist.
“Fifth, Lebanon constitutes a vital line of defense to push back the terrorism waves that might cross over to France and Europe. For this reason, supplying the Lebanese army with weapons and supporting the security forces constitutes a political, moral, and ethical responsibility for France and all the European countries.”