BEIRUT: The decision of Taraya municipality, Bekaa, to move a memorial for Lebanese armed forces personnel from the town’s entrance to the side of the road has come under criticism.
It was claimed that the memorial was moved to not disturb a photo associated with a political party.
The monument — a military armored vehicle — was given as a token of loyalty to the townspeople who had died while defending the country.
The Al-Islah’ Al-Baladi (Municipal Reform) organization in Taraya said the decision to put the monument on the side of the road was inappropriate.
It said that opinions were divided during the municipal council’s meeting, with some supporting the decision and others rejecting it.
Taraya is 75 km from Beirut and is a stronghold for Hezbollah and its ally the Amal Movement, similar to most villages and towns in Central and North Bekaa that are home to a majority of Shiites.
Al-Islah’ Al-Baladi condemned the behavior of the town’s mayor, Rifaat Hamiya, who is a retired army brigadier general with more than 25 years of service.
“We hoped that he would use national principles, enforce laws, hold corrupt people accountable, and apply and commit to the national army’s regulations, instead of committing to parties’ orders and exploiting the municipal council and its members for personal gain.”
While the organization stressed its support for diverse political affiliations, it said it opposed militias and parties’ decisions which proliferated hostility toward the Lebanese army.
Taraya currently suffers socially and economically like other towns in Bekaa while waiting for the enforcement of a development policy.
Parties have taken over these towns’ municipalities, notably Hezbollah, which has infiltrated social lives, imposed traditions, and even controlled decisions in these places.
Ali Al-Amin, editor-in-chief of Janoubia, told Arab News: “What happened comes in the framework of Hezbollah’s well-defined path on the Lebanese level, and its (the party’s) focus on the Shiite sect after its relations were shaken with the forces it has allied with since Oct. 17, 2019, when people took to the streets and protested against everyone.”
Al-Amin said Hezbollah was trying to benefit from its authority over the state and society to pass on its ideologies. It did not care about the opposition, which reflected the state’s vulnerability.
Al-Amin added: “However, I think Hezbollah is trying to focus on minor issues since it is unable to answer strategic questions.
“It is practicing the same options as it does not have any answers to what kind of state and economy it wants for Lebanon and how to address corruption. Those are people’s questions, and it (the party) is taking advantage of the sectarian structure.”
Hezbollah on Friday celebrated by laying the foundation stone for a tourist monument in Janta, in Baalbek governorate, similar to the Mleeta Landmark in the south — the party’s ideological landmark where it tells the story of resisting Israeli occupation from the party’s point of view.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech that the outcome of nuclear talks in Vienna would have no impact on maritime talks aimed at delineating Lebanon’s border with Israel.
“Whether a nuclear deal with Iran is signed or not, if the US mediator does not give Lebanon what it asked for in terms of its rights, we are heading toward an escalation — we are heading toward a problem,” said Nasrallah.
He called for keeping an eye on the Karish field, the Lebanese borders, and the US mediator, adding that the mediator was currently wasting time and running late.
Hezbollah loyalists in the “civil campaign to protect the maritime wealth” have called for a march on Aug. 28.
The march will start from all Lebanese ports and head toward the maritime borders in Ras Al-Naqoura.
Campaign coordinator Hani Suleiman said every Lebanese citizen was concerned with this event to ascertain “our right to our water, as our right to our land.”
Suleiman said the ports of Tripoli, Beirut, Sidon, Tyre, and Al-Naqoura would be ready this week and final preparations had been organized.
The march will start with boats and yachts of different sizes, with numbers expected to exceed 100.
They will bear the Lebanese flag to send a message to the international community and demonstrate the situation of the people at the heart of the conflict with the Israelis.