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France to host mid-June meeting to gather support for the Lebanese army

Discontent is brewing among Lebanon's security forces over a currency crash, wiping out most of the value of their salaries.

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France will convene a virtual meeting of countries on June 17 to drum up support for the Lebanese army. This move seeks to weather an economic crisis that has put the military on the verge of collapse, the French armed forces said on Tuesday.

After failed attempts to unite Lebanon’s feuding politicians, a new government has been formed and reforms to release foreign cash have begun. A currency crisis has wiped off the majority of the value of Lebanon’s security forces’ paychecks, causing discontent within the country’s security forces.

The Lebanese Army chief Joseph Aoun was in France last month to warn of an increasingly untenable situation, and in response to that, Paris provided food and medical supplies for military personnel, whose salaries had fallen five or six-fold in value, forcing many to take extra jobs.

According to two diplomatic sources, the meeting would seek support from countries that can provide food, medical supplies, and military parts and components. It was not intended, however, to furnish weapons or other military hardware.

“The objective is to bring attention to the situation of the LAF (Lebanese Armed Forces), whose members are faced with deteriorating living conditions and who may no longer be able to fully implement their missions, which are essential to the stability of the country,” the ministry said, adding that it would host the meeting with the United Nations and Italy.

It aims to encourage donations to benefit the LAF, it said.

Countries from the Lebanon International Support Group, which includes Gulf Arab states, the United States, Russia, China and European powers, have been invited.

Lebanon’s pound has crashed 90 percent since late 2019 in a financial meltdown that poses the biggest threat to stability since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The army has long been viewed as a rare institution of national pride and unity. However, its collapse at the start of the civil war, when it split along sectarian lines, resulted in Lebanon’s descent into militia rule.

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