Lebanon to get new military chief after 8 years
Written by Malek

by Gulfnews, Beirut: Brigadier General Joseph Aoun is expected to be appointed as the new Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). He will succeed General Jean Qahwaji. General Qahwaji was appointed military chief under the presidency of Michel Sulaiman in 2008. Aoun (no relation to President Michel Aoun) was born in 1964 in Aychiye, East of Sidon, a predominantly Maronite Village in South Lebanon. He joined the military right out of college and reached his current rank after he assumed command of the 9th Brigade, which served in South Lebanon alongside United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) with whose officers he is quite familiar with. Aoun has been slated to head the LAF since 2015, but Qahwaji’s term was extended twice.

In addition to this critical new appointment, the Cabinet is apparently slated to designate Major General Emad Othman, who is currently serving as a director general of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), to become its Commander. He will be promoted to succeed Major General Ebrahim Basbous. Reliable sources told Al Jumhuriyyah that Major-General Khalil Yahiya, secretary-general of the Supreme Defence Council, will succeed Major-General Mohammad Khayr, and that Major-General Tony Saliba will replace Major General George Qara‘a as head of the State Security Service.

Major-General Khalid Hammoud is slated to become head of the ISF’s Intelligence Branch and Major-General Samir Sinan as deputy to the State Security Service. Parallel to these appointments, Major General Abbas Ebrahim, the director general of public security will resign from the military, allowing him to stay in office until the retirement age for civilians, which is 64 years old.

Both Qahwaji and Basbous are slated to assume diplomatic posts. Qahwaji is likely to be appointed as ambassador either to Washington, London or Paris, and Basbous in Riyadh or Cairo. It was unclear whether the Council of Ministers will make a change in the position of director general of the Lebanese Customs, currently occupied by Brigadier General Chafic Merhi, given various controversies associated with the post. The president and the prime minister were apparently anxious to make all of these appointments to avoid drawn out contentions among political forces, as most rejected term extensions for any military or security official. The sources did not give an exact date for the new appointments