AOUN CHAIRS HIGHER DEFENSE COUNCIL’S MEETING, STRESSES NECESSITY OF STRENGTHENING MEASURES TO COMBAT SMUGGLING
The Supreme Defense Council convened today at the Presidential Palace, at 12:00pm, in a session chaired by President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, and attended by Prime Minister, Dr. Hassan Diab.
The Council decided to request security, military and customs agencies to maintain communication and coordination to increase their effectiveness in combatting smuggling and to work to anticipate operations by exchanging information, in addition to monitoring any suspicious plans, while taking utmost measures and procedures against violators.
At the beginning, President Aoun indicated that “The issue of combatting smuggling is one of the priorities in order to preserve the Lebanese state’s reputation on one hand, and financial revenues on the other, especially in the current difficult economic conditions which Lebanon passes through”.
“The measures have already been taken, but there are still gaps which must be filled, especially since smuggling operations are carried out by effective and organized networks which are experienced in this issue, and according to innovative and sophisticated methods. Contacts which have been made must be accompanied by practical measures to restore confidence to the taken measures. In this context, the priority is to install scanners along land and sea crossings, in conjunction with coordination between security apparatuses to achieve greater effectiveness” the President added.
President Aoun also stressed the need to strengthen measures to combat smuggling, noting the uncovering of the smuggling of tons of Keif Hash which were intended to be smuggled through Sayda Port to Egypt. Such and achievement, which was achieved despite the meager means available, gradually restores confidence in the Lebanese monitoring of crossings.
For his part, Prime Minister, Dr. Hassan Diab, affirmed that people should understand the right to protest and object against the delay in forming the government and difficult social and living conditions, “However, people also must be protected from insecurity. What is required today is proactive security, and intensified patrols to protect the Lebanese and Lebanon”.
Deputy Prime Minister, National Defense and Foreign Affairs Minister, Mrs. Zeina Akar, Finance Minister, Ghazi Wazny, Interior Minister, Mohammed Fahmy, Economy and Trade Minister, Raoul Nehme, Public Works Minister, Michel Najjar, Energy Minister, Raymond Ghajar, Health Minister, Hamad Hasan, Justice Minister, Mary-Claude Najem, and Culture and Agriculture Minister, Abbas Mortada, attended the meeting.
Also attending were: Army Chief of Staff, Major General Amin El-Aram, Director General of General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, Director General of Internal Security Forces, Major General Imad Othman, Director General of State Security, Major General Tony Saliba, Secretary General of the Supreme Defense Council, Major General Mahmoud Al-Asmar, Government Commissioner to the Military Court, Judge Fady Akiki, Chairman of the Customs’ Supreme Council, Ret. Brigadier Assad Toufaili, Acting Director General of Customs, Raymond Khoury, Assistant Director General of State Security, Brigadier Samir Sannan, Army Intelligence Director, Brigadier Antoine Kahwajy, Head of Information Branch in Internal Security Forces, Brigadier Khaled Hammoud, Head of Information Branch in General Security, Brigadier Youssef Medawar, Presidency Director General, Dr. Antoine Choucair, and the President’s Security and Military Advisor, Ret. Brigadier Paul Matar.
After the meeting, Major General Al-Asmar, read the following statement:
“At the invitation of His Excellency President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, the Supreme Defense Council convened in a meeting attended by Prime Minister, Dr. Hassan Diab, ministers and heads of security and military agencies, to discuss measures taken to combat smuggling operations and other security issues.
At the beginning of the session, the President indicated that “The issue of combatting smuggling is one of the priorities in order to preserve the Lebanese state’s reputation on one hand, and financial revenues on the other, especially in the current difficult economic conditions which Lebanon passes through”.
President Aoun said: “The measures have already been taken, but there are still gaps which must be filled, especially since smuggling operations are carried out by effective and organized networks which are experienced in this issue, and according to innovative and sophisticated methods. Contacts which have been made must be accompanied by practical measures to restore confidence to the taken measures. In this context, the priority is to install scanners along land and sea crossings, in conjunction with coordination between security apparatuses to achieve greater effectiveness”.
His Excellency also stressed the need to strengthen measures to combat smuggling, noting the uncovering of the smuggling of tons of Keif Hash which were intended to be smuggled through Sayda Port to Egypt. Such and achievement, which was achieved despite the meager means available, gradually restores confidence in the Lebanese monitoring of crossings.
Then, the Prime Minister said: “It is clear that popular movements began today, protesting against the current living and social situation, and loss of medicines and basic goods, in parallel with the delay in forming the government until today.
This comes with financial decisions taken by the Central Bank regarding subsidies, despite failing to implement the financing card for which the draft law is ready to be addressed in the Parliament. We are today facing a difficult situation. The Lebanese face great difficulties in securing medicine, benzene and diesel due to monopoly and storage, and after the BDL stopped subsidies on most food, consumer and meat items.
Thus, popular movements have the right to raise their voices to form a government which will secure, at minimum, a bit of relief. A government which will follow-up on the negotiations which we have started with the IMF, and implement reforms which we have achieved and which also need to be completed, so that a breakthrough occurs.
On the other hand, there is fear of exploiting these movements and diverting them from their true goals to invest in politics or to drive the country to chaos, God forbid, and return to riots, cutting-down roads, burning tires, and destroying public and private institutions, while we are on the verge of summer season, a season which is promising according to our data.
Hence, it is required to ensure complete security stability, prevent road blockage, pursue security breaches and suppress any attempt to tamper with security or stability in any area. We notice an increase in individual accidents, shootings, thefts and encroachment on properties and individual freedom, in addition to monopoly by some merchants and some owners of gas stations and companies, in addition to the continuation of smuggling movements. What is required is strictness and intensification of patrols in neighborhoods, pursuing shooters and smugglers, controlling monopoly and smuggling, preventing thefts and securing freedom of movement on roads.
It is unacceptable that whenever a group of individuals think of blocking a road, the state will provide them with protection, instead of protecting the Lebanese society. We are facing great challenges and we fully understand peoples’ rights to object and protest against the delay in forming the government, in addition to the difficult social and living condition. However, people also should be protected from insecurity.
Here, I would like to praise security apparatuses which are doing their work in pursuing breaches, and arresting violators with remarkable speed. What is required today however, is pre-emptive security, and intensified patrols to protect the Lebanese and Lebanon”.
Afterwards, the Interior Minister presented his report following his communications and coordination with relevant authorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, after the issued decision to prevent the entry of Lebanese agricultural goods. The data contained in the report revealed that, following immediate measures and procedures taken by security, military and customs agencies, several smuggling operations were seized, especially prohibited items. The report also concluded proposing some recommendations distributed on immediate, medium and long-term measures within one-year period from the commencement of their implementation.
After deliberation, His Excellency the President saw importance in setting priorities and implementation needs at all levels, and requested concerned parties to draw up a road map according to available capabilities.
Then, the Prime Minister decided to take into consideration the proposals contained in the Interior Minister’s report, and he will give his directives to concerned ministries to put them on the right track as soon as possible.
The Finance Minister stated that the process of investigating optical detectors (Scanners) based of Decree No. 6748 of 30/7/2020 has become underway and it is expected that the tender will be launched after preparing the book of conditions within a maximum period of one month from its date through the Tender Department.
In addition, the Health Minister tackled the challenges and difficulties faced by the health and hospital sector, especially the process of financing materials, supplies and medicines in light of the financial crisis which the country is passing through.
The Health Minister also presented the procedures and decisions he issued in this regard, and requested the BDL to facilitate the financing process for the health sector according to priorities and needs, provided that this is done in coordination with the Health Ministry.
Security, military and customs agencies were also asked to maintain communication and coordination with each other to increase their effectiveness in combatting smuggling and to work to anticipate operations by exchanging information and monitoring any suspicious plans. Concerned agencies were also asked to take utmost measures and procedures against violators”.
Source: National News Agency