The salaries of thousands of Lebanese army personnel are no longer sufficient for them to provide for their basic needs, so they resort to working in other sectors, in addition to their military service, in the hope that this will secure a better life for their small families, amid an economic collapse that is exhausting the country.
Many members of this army are now practicing a second profession, to compensate for the low value of their salaries after the deterioration of the value of the national currency, although the military regulations prohibit this and violators are subject to penalties.
However, in light of the economic collapse and the lira’s loss of nearly 98% of its value, the leadership of the military and security forces turns a blind eye to the issue, in order to allow its members to secure what the bankrupt state is unable to provide.
This comes in light of the talk about the escape of thousands of army and security forces from the military, due to the deterioration of pensions and the worsening economic conditions since 2019.
Below the poverty line
And the agency “Agence France Presse” spoke with one of the elements, who resorted to working in a car repair shop in the city of Tripoli, in the north of the country, and who confirmed the knowledge of the military establishment about his second work, but he said that it turns a blind eye to that, as 80% of the population in Lebanon now lives under the line. poverty.
And the French agency said that the soldier joined the military when he was 19 years old, thinking that he “guaranteed his future,” with the continuity, medicine and social advancements provided by the job in the public sector in Lebanon, but the crisis turned his life upside down, as his salary was It is equal to 800 US dollars before the crisis, and today it is equivalent to only 100 dollars, with the temporary increases and measures approved to support salaries.
With the authorities unable to contain the crisis and the repercussions of the collapse of the lira, Qatar began in the summer of 2022 to provide financial support to the army in the form of financial assistance of $100 to its members for a period of 6 months.
The United States took the same step, as it started last month, in coordination with the United Nations Development Program, to provide financial assistance in the amount of $100 per month over a period of 6 months to members of the Internal Security Forces, provided that this applies to the army as well. But in a country where inflation is soaring and the exchange rate of the lira changes daily, aid makes no difference.
The economic collapse has put all sectors, including the army and security forces, in front of several challenges, most notably continuing to secure basic needs such as food, medicine, fuel, maintenance of equipment, and maintaining medical care at its level.--
Since the beginning of the crisis, the army leadership has adopted austerity in its budget. For example, meat has been reduced from the military meals. Then, in 2021, it launched helicopter tours for civilians, in return for a fee.
The fields in which the soldiers work are varied, such as restaurants, bakeries, agriculture, hairdressing, taxi driving, construction, and even as private security personnel.
The same suffering applies to the security forces, whose situation appears to be more difficult than the military institution, which receives aid from several countries, most notably the United States, to confront the economic crisis.
A security source told “Agence France Presse”: “The Internal Security Forces turn a blind eye to the members’ doing jobs aside, because there are no other solutions. The state is unable to improve their salaries and all the burdens, even school fees, are now in dollars.”
He adds, “We are trying to help them as much as possible, but even the one hundred dollars provided by the United States is not sufficient in light of the current situation.”
The budget allocated for the treatment of security personnel is no longer sufficient, with the high cost of hospitalization, and hospitals receiving financial allowances in dollars.
The economic crisis, according to what Dina Araqji, a researcher at the Control Risks Center, explained to AFP, affected “the ability of the security services to work appropriately and the morale” of their members.
And with the disregard for security and army personnel practicing other professions, the agencies’ ability to “respond to the country’s internal security needs is threatened,” she said, in a country experiencing political division and stagnation affecting the work of all institutions.