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The Lebanese army needs $ 100 million to pay soldiers, the general says – News

Soldiers on June 17, 2021 during a protest calling for a “recovery government” as part of a 24-hour general strike against the economic crisis and high living costs in Beirut, Lebanon, while protesters were blocking roads. Patrol the streets.

Houssam Shbaro | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The Lebanese army immediately needed $ 100 million to cover the basic needs of soldiers as the currency crisis pushed their salaries below the poverty line, the general told CNBC.

His comment comes when the country’s army is trying to avoid the collapse.

“Without the morale and motivation of our soldiers, it would have a negative impact on our mission,” Brig said. General Youssef Hadad told CNBC. “If the army collapses, Lebanon will be lost.”

He said the military would be in a “crisis” by September.

The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) pays enlisted soldiers worth $ 84 per month at an exchange rate of $ 15,500 per US $.

With the currency approaching 20,000 LBP per dollar in the black market, its salary keeps the average soldier below the poverty line.

Hadad said each soldier needed “an additional bonus to meet basic needs every month for 12 months.” This should total about $ 90 to $ 100 million, he said.

Free fall economy

Lebanon Worst economic crisis in decades After the country fails to enact reforms and form a government with access to important aid.

The 6 million Mediterranean nation has lost 90% of its value in the informal market over the past 18 months and has set a new low against the US dollar in this week’s black market. Food inflation has skyrocketed to 400%.

According to the World Bank, inflation averages 84% ​​in 2020, and per capita GDP is expected to decline by about 40% between 2018 and 2020.

Since 2017, the Lebanese Armed Forces have adopted austerity policies in response to the crisis and have enacted a moratorium on job freezes and early retirement.

Many soldiers with families want a second or third job. Such work violates the official military policy, but the commander says they are sympathetic to the plight of their soldiers.

“There is a hidden contract between HQ and the soldiers,” Hadad said. “We ask our soldiers to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, perhaps at the expense of his (or her) life, to die for the benefit of his country.”

“The only thing we can offer soldiers is the peace of mind that we can protect your family, ensure they have proper medical insurance, and allow their children to go to school. “He added.

There is also growing fear that disgruntled soldiers may leave the Lebanese army and join other armed groups that can bring higher salaries and more profits than the LAF.

Funding the military

The Lebanese Army (the power that the Ministry of Defense says is a strength of 77,000 to 80,000) is seen by much of the international community as the country’s only honest mediator.

They have also been deeply criticized for handling protests in 2019, which is outside the scope of the military’s official mission.

Still, it will be difficult to persuade foreign governments and members of the Lebanese diaspora to pay the bill.

Long-standing donations by the Gulf Arab countries have ceased as Western nations demand that Lebanon’s unruly political class be set aside in support of the interim cabinet to move reforms.

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