Wednesday, October 28
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Retired Brigadier General Maroun Hitti honorary member of British Empire

In a reception hosted at his Residence, British Ambassador to Lebanon, Hugo Shorter, annouced the appointment of Retired Brigadier General Maroun Hitti an Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), for services to Security in the Levant.

In a press release by the British Embassy in Beirut, it said: "The MBE award was made in recognition of General Hitti's unwavering commitment to Lebanon's sovereignty and security. As Director of Operations in the Lebanese Armed Forces, later as Deputy Chief of Staff for Lebanese military planning, and now as the Prime Minister's Defence and Security Advisor, Brigadier General Maroun Hitti has been instrumental in creating the excellent defence relationship between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the UK, in particular in the design and implementation of the long-running project to create four LAF Land Border Regiments and build over 70 towers and operating basis on Lebanon's border with Syria.

General Hitti is the fourth Lebanese citizen to be awarded this honour."

At the award ceremony Ambassador Shorter said: "It is one of the greatest honours of an ambassador to perform this duty, on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II herself. General Hitti was instrumental in fostering the excellent cooperation between Lebanon and the UK. From 2011, with support from the British government, he was a central actor in designing and implementing the enormously successful Lebanon border security project. This ensured Lebanon was able to secure and defend its borders with Syria for the first time in its history."

Upon receiving the award General Hitti said: "I am honoured by this distinction and what we have achieved, but I did not do it alone; I was assisted by many courageous men. What is important for me as a Lebanese is that we put the authority of the State on that border area where the state has been absent since Independence. The border project is an investment by the British people - it did not come as a manna from heaven but through the labour and the sweat of the British tax payers. We're really grateful for that, and we acknowledge it."

Press release said: " The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire's motto is For God and the Empire. It is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service. It was established in 1917 by King George V, wishing to create an Order to honour many thousands of those who had served during the First World War."

Release noted: " The stability generated by secure borders has allowed a delicate but very real peace to hold in Lebanon - a unique country whose stability is an essential UK and Western interest. This has set the scene for over one billions dollars of UK investment in Lebanon's security, stability, and prosperity - more spending per head of population than almost anywhere else in the world."

Release concluded: " By 2019, we will have trained around 11,000 soldiers for frontline operations. The UK is spending Pound 62m ($91.4) to 'train and equip' the LAF's Land Border Regiments. This includes building 39 border watchtowers and 37 Forward Operating Bases along the border. And they're having great success: in 2014, Lebanon was the first nation to repel Daesh, and in 2017 the LAF successfully expelled Daesh from Lebanese territory. From 2019, Lebanon will have complete authority over its border with Syria.

Source: National News Agency