Major General Abbas Ibrahim to Asharq Al-Awsat: The multiplicity of Lebanese security apparatuses stems from the crowding of sects

The former Director of General Security confirmed that he will work in the public field independently and will not join anyone

Major General Abbas Ibrahim has left the post of Director General of General Security in Lebanon, but the role he has played since his appointment in 2011 has not left him. On the morning after the end of his service, the “former” general manager was receiving at his home a delegation from the Bazzi family, whose son Muhammad was arrested in Romania at the request of the American authorities. Ibrahim made contacts with the Lebanese ambassador to Romania, as well as with Foreign Minister Abdullah Bouhabib, and was ready to contact the directors of public security and intelligence in Romania when needed, to eventually come up with a set of “realistic” advice and instructions on how to deal with this file.

After leaving his position, which he entered in 2011, Major General Ibrahim takes a short break to “collect papers and prepare his future plans.” Many offers to work abroad reached him, some of them tempting, but not all of them seduced him, as he desires political work in Lebanon and will not leave it “unless he loses hope.”

This role continues due to Ibrahim’s relationships and experience, but the exit from the position came dramatically. While everyone was waiting for some extension of Ibrahim’s term, which ended last week, everyone was surprised by the closing of the door to solutions in a country where politicians are accustomed to tailoring laws according to their desires.

In his interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Ibrahim refuses to point his finger at the person responsible for the failure of the attempts to extend his term, but points out with the tip of his tongue to Prime Minister Najib Mikati, “who sounded the real whistle,” when he said that he “will rely on the law on this issue.”

Ibrahim confirms that he would not have wanted to extend his term had it not been for the inability to appoint Aseel, and to remain in this position until the election of a President of the Republic and the formation of a full-fledged government that can appoint an Aseel Director General of Public Security. Ibrahim says that he told “those concerned” five months ago that he did not wish to remain in office at the end of his term. But he acquiesced in the idea of ​​a “temporary” extension. Mikati said that there is a purely legal dimension to this issue, and “I do not accept political reviews.” He spoke in a way that caused confusion among citizens and the political authority.

Note that a group of jurists found legal ways out for the extension, but it was not taken into account. Major General Ibrahim says: “Mikati wanted at first a law without politics, and later a policy without a law, and this is the reason that brought us here. Quite simply, Brigadier General Elias Al-Bisari took over this position by proxy, and he is one of the best officers, and I told him that my experience and capabilities are at his disposal. As such, everyone did what was expected of him. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, for example, called for a session, but it did not happen. As for Minister Gebran Bassil, he said that he is ready to secure a quorum for parliament to legislate necessity, and necessity is an elastic word. Basil stipulated that the extension law be for all general managers, which was not taken into account, and it did not happen.

However, Ibrahim sees a positive way out, “which reflected people’s feelings towards the former Director General of General Security, and how citizens viewed this directorate. This is something I am very proud of and honored and compensates for the dramatic exit.

Ibrahim used to play the role of the “republican mediator” moving between officials, trying to bridge points of view on many controversial files. The process of forming governments had a large share of Ibrahim’s activity, as did many controversial files, in which he succeeded in some and failed in others because of “political distress.” However, Ibrahim confirms that in this endeavor he did not go beyond his role as director of the General Security, which enjoys very wide powers through the law of its establishment, as political, social and economic security is at the core of his work. Ibrahim says: “The first thing I did upon assuming this position was that I read the book of the directorate and its powers and the powers of the general manager. Today, after 12 years have passed, I could not fulfill everything I have done. The book of the law is entitled to it, because the powers are very broad.

And he asserts that “nothing that happened or that I did in the Directorate as a mediator for the Republic was outside the powers of the General Directorate or the Director of Public Security. There are managers who did not exercise all these powers. But during the period in which I assumed my duties, it was mostly a period of emptiness on all levels, and nature hates emptiness, and I filled this emptiness with my work, and I can say that in most positions I was able to mediate the republic, and I was able to round corners and reach the desired results.

As for his assessment of the work of politicians in Lebanon, he believes that “anxiety predominates over political performance, and action and reaction predominate over political opinion. In general, there is no planning in Lebanon, and we live in a world of reactions. This mentality will have bad results if it continues. We must get out of it, and this performance is a devastating performance. Indeed, the result is in front of us. What we have achieved should be an incentive for them to change, but nothing has changed.

Ibrahim’s desire for political work is not a secret, as he has said it publicly more than once. As for after his departure from the job to the wide world of politics, he is asserting that he will not join any team on the scene. “In all my performance, I was independent and found merit in the way I think. I believe that I will be independent to a large extent without deviating from the Lebanese reality, that is, the sectarian reality.” And the sectarian one that imposes itself, but I will keep a very large margin entitled my independence, and work independently of everyone.

And about people’s “aversion” to those with security positions, Ibrahim says: “I am from a school that believes that security is in the service of man and not the other way around. What has been practiced for years may be abnormal and the way you did it is correct. This is what made the citizen close to us. Our office has become an argument for every service or mediation requester anywhere in the world, and this has built trust between us and the citizen. It was not recorded on us that we held anyone accountable according to his political opinion or his criticism of the directorate.”

During his last years in office, the General Security witnessed great difficulties and a decline in its services, the most prominent of which was the queues of people lining up at its doors to obtain a passport. As for his internal situation, it was greatly affected by the decline in the purchasing power of the Lebanese, including the members and officers of the apparatus. Ibrahim uses a word from the Greek philosopher Plato: “Be satisfied, then philosophize.” He says: «Our military was working while starving, and I am convinced of this.

We were able to take a lot of measures to meet part of the needs of the military and their families, and to ensure their continuity in life, but unfortunately we were not able to return them to the level they were living in before the crisis, because this is the responsibility of the state collectively. As for the “passport” crisis, it is, as Ibrahim stresses, “not the responsibility of public security, but of the state, and the exchange of responsibility between the government and the Governor of the Banque du Liban, meaning that we, as a directorate, completed the required tender and we needed 15 million dollars. We have no money, and when we collect the fees for passports and other things, we hand them over directly to the Ministry of Finance.”

Major General Ibrahim leaves his security post, confident in the quality of security, but he refuses to be reassured, “because when the security man is reassured, disasters occur.” Major General Ibrahim affirms that “with the will of the security services and the army and the awareness of the citizens, the security situation is good, but the great fear is from social security. But the security situation is good. As for the social situation, it may escalate into clashes in the street between citizens and the security services, but it does not constitute fear in the security sense. On the other hand, he points out that “there are sleeper cells of terrorist organizations in Lebanon, most of which are under surveillance and follow-up. There is coordination between the security services on this issue.”

Ibrahim does not miss, on every occasion, emphasizing the coordination between the security services, but when we ask him if it is normal for the presence of this number of security services in Lebanon, he says: “No, it is not normal.” . The countries of the world reorganize and unify their apparatus in every period, each within its competence.” Then he goes to an additional direct clarification, saying: “We have sects that impose equipment obstruction. Unfortunately, the Shiites have one, the Sunnis have one, and the Christians have two balancing devices. This prompts us to actually think of abolishing sectarianism and going to a civil state in order to become citizens, not sects. It is time for us to become citizens of this country and become more religious and less sectarian. Let us move away from sectarianism and get closer to God.”

A large part of Ibrahim’s role was external. He says: “I took over the directorate with the beginnings of the Syrian crisis, and this crisis had a great impact not only on Lebanon, but also on the world, and when most countries’ diplomatic relations with Syria were severed, these countries had to start at the security level.” For it to have a focus in a place from which it overlooks Syria, and vice versa, so the convergence was on Major General Ibrahim to be the personality who can speak with Syria and the West at the same time, and over the course of approximately 12 years we have accomplished what we have accomplished and we have carried out many tasks, including what was announced, and most of them It has not been announced.

We were able to mitigate many of the negatives as a result of this communication, beginning with Lebanon and Syria and ending with brotherly and friendly countries in the world. Therefore, these channels were effective, and sometimes we moved from security channels to diplomatic and political channels. There are many things that I did not disclose due to their sensitivity, but I consider that I have done my part to the fullest.”


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