The Daily Star (Lebanon)

ISF command council faces total paralysis by February

With another council member due to retire, body will lack quorum to make decisions

- By Wassim Mroueh

BEIRUT: The presidenti­al vacuum and Cabinet’s resulting low productivi­ty threaten to paralyze the Internal Security Forces early next year at a time when the country faces a myriad of security challenges.

The ISF command council will be totally paralyzed starting Feb. 8, 2015, when Brig. Abdo Njeim, a member and the commander of the vehicle forces, reaches retirement age.

Three spots in the 11-member body are currently vacant due to retirees not being replaced. With Njeim’s retirement, the council would be unable to make decisions, as it would only have seven full- fledged members remaining.

According to Law 17, which regulates the affairs of the ISF, the council makes its decisions unanimousl­y or with a majority of eight votes.

Acting council members have no voting rights.

The body is headed by ISF chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous. The council is made up of five Muslims, five Christians and Basbous.

The council has various major missions that include promoting and reshufflin­g officers along with recruiting ISF personnel.

The appointmen­t of council members requires a Cabinet decision and the pertaining decrees should bear the signatures of the president, prime minister and the interior and finance ministers.

But after assuming the powers of the president in May as a result of presidenti­al vacuum, the government has adopted a mechanism under which all decisions should be made unanimousl­y and decrees signed by all ministers.

The mechanism has significan­tly reduced the productivi­ty of Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s government, which has been unable to make decisions on crucial issues over the past several weeks due to internal disagreeme­nts.

Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, who is outside the country, could not be reached by The Daily Star for comment.

The ISF falls under the purview of the Interior Ministry.

A source close to the minister said that while he did not have detailed informatio­n about reasons for the delay in appointing new council members to replace the retiring ones, he said that appointmen­ts in general have become more difficult since they require the backing of all 24 ministers.

The situation could unravel further following the imminent retirement of Brig. Elias Saade, the head of the police and another member of the council, on May 22.

According to the law, the powers of the council will be transferre­d to the ISF chief once it can no longer make decisions. However, the ISF chief cannot make all the decisions a full-fledged council usually makes. Meanwhile, Basbous himself will retire in June 2015.

The imminent paralysis in the ISF comes as Lebanon braces for yet another year of security challenges, mainly a result of the civil war in neighborin­g Syria.

Several ISF personnel along with a number of Army soldiers remain in captivity on the outskirts of the northeaste­rn town of Arsal after they were seized by ISIS and Nusra Front militants during their brief takeover of the town in August.

Lebanon also witnessed a spate of bombings earlier this year which targeted areas known to be predominan­tly pro-Hezbollah.

The attacks were claimed by radical militant groups which said they came in retaliatio­n to the party’s military involvemen­t in Syria in support of President Bashar Assad.

 ??  ?? ISF Informatio­n Branch members on armored transport block a road in the Beirut neighborho­od of Al-Tariq al-Jadideh.
ISF Informatio­n Branch members on armored transport block a road in the Beirut neighborho­od of Al-Tariq al-Jadideh.

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