Aoun Says He's among 'Winners of Mideast War', Calls for Wednesday Demos
Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun noted Tuesday that he belongs to the axis “that has won the war in the Middle East,” as he called for demos on Wednesday to protest perceived marginalization of Christians in state institutions.
Aoun's remarks came several days after Defense Minister Samir Moqbel extended the the terms of the army commander, chief of staff and the head of the Higher Defense Council despite months of objections by the FPM, which rejects the extension of the tenures of high-ranking military and security officials.
“Moqbel's decision to extend the terms of the security chiefs is what would undermine state institutions and the army's morale,” said Aoun on Tuesday.
“The soldiers of the army are like my sons,” former army chief Aoun added in response to ex-PM Fouad Saniora's accusation that he is “undermining the army.”
“My remarks were aimed at reminding of the army's mission. It is the army of the nation, not the army of the political system, and it is unacceptable to put it in the way of a peaceful demo,” Aoun said.
He also warned against “putting the army in the face” of FPM protesters in any coming demonstration.
“We do not fear confrontation and our youths were raised on the values of resistance,” Aoun underlined.
He accused Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji of “deliberately” seeking a clash through “confronting the protesters” during the July 9 demos.
Prior to Qahwaji's term extension, Aoun was reportedly lobbying for political consensus on the appointment of Commando Regiment commander Chamel Roukoz, his son-in-law, as army chief.
However, he clarified his stance on Tuesday.
“I did not say 'I want Chamel Roukoz' and we only 'mentioned him' when we discussed the appointments,” he said.
“We won't remain silent regarding our rights or over the violation of the law and the Constitution,” Aoun vowed.
He noted that the FPM has “introduced the principle of accountability to the political system,” lamenting that “corruption is spreading like cancer in all institutions.”
“There is a campaign to push the Lebanese to despair and the issue is not personal, but rather the cause of all Lebanese,” Aoun went on to say.
“You are all asked to demonstrate tomorrow,” he added.
Reminiscing the 2004 era, Aoun noted that it was not ex-PM Rafik Hariri's assassination that “liberated Lebanon.”
“I worked for independence in 2004 in coordination with world powers and I made a speech in Paris and called on the Lebanese parties to meet outside the country to discuss the issue of the Syrian forces' withdrawal from Lebanon,” he said.