Meanwhile, as former parliamentarian deputy Dr. Basem Shabb observed, parliamentarian deputy and former Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz, the son-in-law of President Michel Aoun, “withdrew from the president’s Free Patriotic Movement’s Bloc, followed by officers who shifted their alliance from Aoun.” Shabb added that the Thawra and its support among the LAF command leadership, endemic corruption, Roukoz’s break away from the FPM, and grievances over the government’s plan to cut the benefits of retired army officers have markedly undermined Hezbollah’s influence within the LAF.
Furious with Aoun, Hezbollah and its political ally Amal have accused the LAF of helping protesters block the roads to the parliament and preventing deputies from convening. No less significant, they have frowned upon the thought that the commander has ignored their threat to open the coastal road from Hezbollah’s stronghold in West Beirut’s Dahyeh to the south. Speaking of Aoun, Hezbollah and Amal deputies refer to him as the “so-called commander.”
But Shabb, in reference to the recent White House’s hold up of the U.S. military aid to the LAF, disregarding the disapproval of the Pentagon, cautioned that “Too much love can kill so can over exposure to U.S. anti-Hezbollah directives.” He expounded that “cutting aid can undermine the independence and coherence of the LAF, for its strength lies in its confidence to inspire neutrality and impose restraint over the course of the ongoing revolt. This has weakened Hezbollah’s narrative and for once it is politically isolated.”
When all is said and done, notwithstanding Lebanon’s endemic corruption and political leadership sectarianism, the LAF is the only institution counteracting Hezbollah’s power and rallying most Lebanese around their flag. Attempts to undermine this institution will surely destabilize the country and turn it into both a Salafi-jihadi and Iranian Revolutionary Guard satrapies.
Robert G. Rabil is a professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University and Francois Alam is an attorney at Law and Secretary General of the Christian Federation of Lebanon and the Levant. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of FAU. The authors can be followed @robertgrabil and @francoisalam.