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After 8 years, Lebanon gets new army chief

Brigadier general Tony Saliba replaces Major-General George Qara‘a as head of the State Security Service

Image Credit: Supplied
Joseph Aoun
Gulf News

Beirut: The Lebanese government appointed General Joseph Aoun as army commander on Wednesday, Lebanese media reported, replacing General Jean Qahwaji at the head of a force that has been guarantor of civil peace since the 1975-90 civil war.

Qahwaji, who has been army commander for eight years, was appointed military chief under the presidency of Michel Sulaiman in 2008.

Aoun has been slated to head the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) since 2015, but Qahwaji’s term was extended twice due to the political vacuum in the country.

Lebanon only recently appointed a president, Michael Aoun, in October 2016, after two years of having no president after Sulaiman’s term ended in 2014.

The vacuum was associated with events in neighbouring Syria, where President Bashar Al Assad has been fighting an uprising against his rule since 2011.

Lebanese politics is closely intertwined with the politics of its neighbour, with the country largely divided between pro and anti-Syrian forces.

Michael Aoun is pro-Syrian and is part of a political alliance with the Iran-backed Hezbollah group.

Other appointments included Brigadier general Tony Saliba who replaced Major-General George Qara’a as head of the State Security Service at the rank of Major-General.

Sa’adallah Hamad was appointed Secretary-General of the Defence Council.

Judge Burkan Sa’ad appointed Inspector-General of the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

As’ad Al Tufayli appointed director general of the Higher Customs Council.

Brigadier general Badr Dahir appointed Director General of Customs and member of the Higher Customs Council (alongside Grace Azzi and Hani Al Haj Chehadeh).

Brigadier general Emad Othman as Commander of the Internal Security Forces at the rank of Major-General.

Major-General Abbas Ebrahim, the current director general of public security resigns from the military. He is reappointed to his post as a civilian.

Fu’ad Flayfil, Governor of Mount Lebanon, is reappointed until a successor is designated.

About Joseph Aoun:

Joseph Aoun (no relation to President Michel Aoun) was born in 1964 in Aychiye, East of Sidon, a predominantly Maronite Village in South Lebanon.

He attended the College des Freres and then joined the Military Academy, from where he graduated as a Second Lieutenant in April 1985.

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.

Over the years, he earned several promotions, and on July 1, 2013, was appointed a Brigadier general when he assumed command of the 9th Brigade.

Aoun attended several foreign training courses, including in Syria and the United States.

In 2008-2009, he completed an Anti-Terrorism course in the US.

In addition to Arabic, Aoun speaks French, English and Spanish.

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