(Photo credit: Reuters)
Qatar delivered its first financial contribution to the Lebanese armed forces (LAF) on 12 August, as all sectors within Lebanon continue to struggle from the consequences of the 2019 economic collapse.
Qatar state media announced the delivery of a $60 million contribution to the budget of the LAF, intended to be distributed as bonuses to the soldiers regardless of rank or duties.
Per the agreement details, the army will pay soldiers $100 over their current salaries for eight months. Initially, Qatar intended to pay each soldier $70 for the duration of a year.
“This support comes as part of Qatar’s commitment to support the Lebanese people, in addition to its firm belief in the importance and necessity of joint Arab action,” reads a statement released by Qatari state media.
بتاريخ ١٢ / ٨ /٢٠٢٢ تسلّمت قيادة الجيش الدفعة الأولى من الهبة المالية القطرية التي قدّمها أمير دولة قطر الشقيقة الشيخ تميم بن حمد آل ثاني للجيش اللبناني كمساهمة لدعم رواتب عناصر الجيش، وبدأ توزيعها اليوم بالتساوي على جميع العسكريين.#الجيش_اللبناني https://t.co/AtgvhHRvSB
— الجيش اللبناني (@LebarmyOfficial) August 12, 2022
The LAF is the largest security apparatus in Lebanon with about 70,000 active duty soldiers and contractors.
The Internal Security Forces comes next, with 26,000 individuals, followed by the Public Security Forces (8,000 members), and the State Security Agency (3,000).
Legal Agenda think thank approximates the current armed forces’ salaries at $50 per month, a stark decline from the $800-900 they received as a starting salary before October of 2019.
Under these conditions, hundreds of Lebanese army solders deserted from duty.
Internal Security Forces estimate that 580 members and four officers have deserted, whereas the LAF estimate the number to have exceeded 5,000, according to Lebanese daily Al-Akbar.
As a result of these conditions, the LAF command pursued a policy of stimulus and assistance to its members to improve their living conditions by providing monthly food parcels and transportation allowances.
The other security forces’ stimulus was limited to some rice and legumes.
In July 2021, Qatar announced it planned provide the LAF with 70 tons of food monthly over the period of the economic instability in Lebanon.
Earlier in January, the US State Department announced plans to reroute $67 million in ‘military assistance’ to the LAF.
In total, Washington provided $372 million in ‘humanitarian assistance’ to Lebanon last year, according to official figures.
Israel is another country that has sought to provide so-called aid to the LAF, as last February Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz revealed that, during the preceding 12 months, Tel Aviv made four offers to the LAF, including one made during the last week of January through the office of the commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Gantz said two of the offers were for “humanitarian assistance,” including one that was made in the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion.
However, Gantz did not give details of the other two offers that were made. Instead, he said that Israel wanted to help “in a targeted manner the Lebanese army, which is suffering from a shortage of basic supplies and has lost more than 5,000 soldiers that abandoned it recently.”