On the occasion of its 78th anniversary on August 1st, the Lebanese Army and its commander in chief, Gen. Joseph Aoun, were praised by local politicians and foreign missions for maintaining security and stability in the country despite years of political and financial uncertainty.

The US embassy saluted the army in a congratulation message on its Twitter account, as did the UN Special Coordinator in Lebanon, Joanna Wronecka, who stated that the army is “the main Lebanese institution making the Lebanese proud and earning the trust of the international community.”

On the Lebanese side, Caretaker Minister of Interior Bassam Mawlawi paid tribute to the army, with particular compliments to its Commander-in-Chief, without naming him.

Minister of the Environment, Nasser Yassine, highlighted his ministry’s collaboration with the military “to protect the environment, forest areas, and natural reserves, particularly in the fight against fires and encroachments (on the public domain) in order to halt environmental degradation.”

Minister of Industry, Georges Bouchikian, expressed his best wishes to the army and its Commander-in-Chief, General Joseph Aoun, stressing that “the army is the force that protects the borders, destroys terrorism, and maintains internal security.”

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that the military institution “remains the pillar of Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence, and stability,” while saluting the institution as well as its chief, officers, and members.

In a comment focusing on arms’ possession, MP Michel Moawad stressed on his Twitter account that the army “must have a monopoly on arms and strategic decisions, without which Lebanon’s security and stability cannot be guaranteed.”

“On this Army Day, we remember the sacrifices made by the troops and their commitment, particularly in the economic and security context that Lebanon is currently experiencing,” Moawad said.

Similarly, MP Sami Gemayel pointed out that “there can be no homeland under the aegis of two armies,” in allusion to the Hezbollah militia, and that “sovereignty can only exist under the banner of the Lebanese army.” He praised the troop as a “unifying institution in the absence of institutions.”

In the same vein, Lebanese Forces MP Ghassan Hasbani stressed that the army is the only institution authorized to preserve sovereignty and hold arms. “Despite the collapse, the military institution has managed to maintain its cohesion and fulfill its duty,” he said.

The statements about the importance of the army’s monopoly of weapons were a clear critical message to Hezbollah, which draws its strength from its illegal weapons, thereby undermining the authority of the State.

The National Liberal Party (PNL), for its part, called on the army to be “firm in repressing the war that is raging in the Palestinian camps in flagrant violation of national sovereignty and in order to avoid repeating the experiences of civil war.”

The party’s statement comes in response to the armed clashes that have been raging since Saturday in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh near Saida between Fatah and Palestinian Islamist groups.