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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Beirut - Mohamed Choucair

Lebanon: Aoun Uses Defense Minister to Settle Scores with Army Commander

Minister of Defense in the caretaker government receives the Army Commander on Dec. 1 (Photo: Ministry of Defense)

Signs of a political clash began to emerge between Lebanon’s Minister of National Defense in the caretaker government, retired Brigadier General Maurice Slim, and Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, over the appointment of an officer who would manage the Army’s General Inspection Authority.

The clash could have been avoided had it not been stirred by the insistence of former President Michel Aoun to settle scores with the Army general, and with the direct intervention of the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, MP Gebran Bassil.

Bassil accused the Army chief of “leading the coup” against Aoun during the October 2019 protests.

Unnamed political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the relationship between Aoun and the Army general began to deteriorate since the beginning of the protests since the latter refused to use force against the demonstrators.

The sources added that Aoun provided the minister of defense with political cover in this dispute, adding that Bassil personally sponsored incitement campaigns against the Army commander in an attempt to distort his image at home and abroad.

The sources noted that the difference over the appointment of an officer in charge of managing the General Inspection in the army does not explain all this fabricated uproar.

According to the sources, the clash is not exclusively related to the powers of the minister of defense but represented an opportunity for the former President and his son-in-law (Bassil) to launch a campaign against the Army general and harm his credibility at the internal and external levels, with his name topping the list of presidential candidates alongside former Minister Sleiman Franjieh.

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