On the eve of the expiration of his mandate, the director of Lebanon's General Security, Abbas Ibrahim, alluded to his potential pursuit of a political career by stating that "retirement is not on the agenda." His comments come after a possible extension of his mandate failed to materialize amid the country's ongoing political crisis.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri gave up efforts to convene MPs to a session aimed, among other things, at extending Ibrahim's mandate, as several MPs announced their intent to boycott any legislative session held in the midst of Lebanon's presidential vacuum, which has been ongoing since former President Michel Aoun's term in office ended on Oct. 31.
For its part, the caretaker cabinet, which met to deal with "urgent matters" on Monday, did not take any decision on the matter of extending Ibrahim's mandate. "Let everyone fulfill their responsibilities," caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati told L'Orient-Le Jour shortly after the cabinet meeting ended. When asked about the fate of Ibrahim after March 2, he simply said: "We will decide when the time comes."
'National and professional duty'
At a ceremony organized to lay the foundation stone for the construction of a new General Security center in the Karantina area in northern Beirut, Ibrahim said: "It is my national and professional duty to serve others and their rights."
He added that "on the path of service to the nation, retirement and inaction are not on the agenda."
"Tomorrow, we will continue the path on several other grounds in order to raise Lebanon," he said.
"Our people deserve institutions and administrations that are worthy of its history and sacrifices, and leaders who work for the interest of the nation, instead of officials who are distracted by enmities that have pushed the country into dangerous poverty," Ibrahim also said.
'We have to find a president' first
Asked at the end of the ceremony about his retirement, the security official again said, "No one will be able to push me to leave."
He also dodged a question about his possible ambition to be appointed a minister in a future cabinet, saying only that "we have to find a president" first.
General Security in Lebanon controls entry to and exit from Lebanese territory, grants residence permits for foreigners and issues passports for Lebanese citizens.
Ibrahim is known to be an outstanding mediator, both in Lebanon and abroad, and he has been regularly dispatched to exercise his diplomatic skills in delicate situations. In addition to mediating between Lebanese parties on many controversial issues, he negotiated the end of fighting against jihadists in the jurds (hinterlands) of the Bekaa Valley in 2014 and helped free Syrian nuns kidnapped by jihadists.
He is also among the officials prosecuted by the investigating judge at the court of justice Tarek Bitar in the case of the double explosion at the port of Beirut.
"I remain with you wherever I am, and leave in you only the spirit of courage and resistance," Ibrahim said later in the day, during a ceremony in his honor at the headquarters of the GS in Beirut, closing 12 years spent at the head of the security service.
He also considered that the acting director, Elias Baysari, who serves in his place during his travels, is "the best placed to watch over General Security."
On Tuesday, Lebanese media reported that the term of Baysari, who was also due to retire within three months, was extended by six months, in order to pave the way for the succession of Ibrahim.
According to those close to him, Ibrahim has made it clear to the relevant authorities that the page of his days at General Security has been turned and that he will not accept a last-minute solution to extend his term. He is however reportedly planning to return to the political scene.