Thursday, January 07, 2021

  • Thursday, January 07, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon


From AP:

The unveiling of a large statue in Beirut of an Iranian commander killed by the U.S. last year has sparked indignation among many in Lebanon — the latest manifestation of a growing schism between supporters and opponents of the Iran-backed group Hezbollah.

The bronze bust of Gen. Qassem Soleimani was erected Tuesday by the Ghobeiry municipality in a Hezbollah stronghold near Beirut's airport to commemorate the slain general's supportive role in Lebanon's wars with Israel. Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s proxy militias in the Middle East, was killed in a U.S. drone strike near Baghdad airport a year ago.

Many Lebanese, mostly critics of Hezbollah, took to social media to lambast the celebration of a foreign military leader in Lebanon's capital. “Occupied Beirut,” tweeted one Lebanese, Amin Abou Mansour, who posted it with the hashtag #BeirutFree—IranOut.

One Lebanese media personality said she received death threats after her criticism on social media of the new statue.

The bronze bust about 3 meters (10 feet) high is located in a roundabout on a street named for the Iranian general and is linked to a highway named after Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini — a reflection of growing Iranian influence in Lebanon.

Giant posters of Soleimani were also installed along the airport highway and in streets and neighborhoods allied with Hezbollah, in some instances sparking angry reactions from locals.

In the eastern Bekaa highway to the Brital area, unidentified men torched a billboard of Soleimani on Sunday, according to the local LBC TV channel.

The following day, other portraits of Soleimani were burned north of Beirut in Nahr al-Kalb by men who brandished the portraits of Christian leader Bachir Gemayl, who was assassinated in 1982.

Meanwhile, also around the anniversary of Soleimani's death, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar reminisced over how Soleimani gave Hamas millions in cash and weapons, upsetting some Iranians!

A senior leader of the Palestinian Hamas movement has offered an account of how in one tranche of cash aid, the Islamic Republic provided his group with $22 million back in 2006. 

In an interview with the state-funded Arabic-language news network Al-Alam, Mahmoud al-Zahar said during a visit to Tehran as Gaza’s foreign minister, he and eight other members of his delegation received the nine suitcases before departure from an airport in Tehran. “In the meeting, I raised with him our problems with salary payments and social services in Gaza,” al-Zahar said of his discussions with the former commander of Iran’s Quds Force who was killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad Jan. 3.

“Soleimani was quick to respond to our demand. The day after, I saw $22 million in cash inside suitcases each weighing 40 kilos. Since it was only nine of us, we couldn’t carry any [more],” al-Zahar added, praising the Iranian commander as “a man of honesty and action.”

 Abu Mujahid, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, a Palestinian group closely allied to Iran, who will participate in the ceremonies honoring Soleimani’s death anniversary in Qom, also spoke of support given by the late Qods commander to the “Palestinian resistance.”

“Martyr Soleimani…provided them with missiles that can destroy targets in the heart of Tel Aviv, Haifa and other cities of the Zionist regime,” he told the Tasnim news agency “When Haj Qasem delivered Kornet missiles to the Palestinian Resistance, a huge change was made in the deterrence balance in regards to Zionist regime.”  

But not all Iranians are happy about this support of Hamas. 

The Islamic Republic claims that the policy is a popular demand from ordinary Iranians, who share religious convictions with the resistance cause. This idea, however, has been openly challenged by many Iranians, especially since the country’s 2009 post-election protests. “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon! I sacrifice my soul for the sake of Iran,” they chanted. The slogan is rooted in the argument that at a time when Iran is suffering from multiple economic crises and sanctions, its own people ought to be prioritized. The same slogan was chanted with greater vigor and deeper fury eight years later in the 2017 economic protests and most notably during the 2019 nationwide unrest against a controversial plan to hike fuel prices.    

While the revelation by the Hamas official was no surprise to many Iranians, it renewed debates on how the Islamic Republic has over the decades increasingly sacrificed its people’s welfare for ideological ambitions and regional policies. “The suitcases that Soleimani offered to Hamas were filled with income from the very oil wells above which Omran Roshani Moghaddam hung himself due to poverty and his overdue salaries,” wrote human rights activist Dariush Zand in reference to a disillusioned oil field worker whose suicide scene back in June marked a moving paradox between Iran’s natural wealth and its citizens’ misery.

“Just how many children working as garbage scavengers could have been saved with the very cash gift Soleimani gave Hamas?” asked exiled journalist Masih Alinejad, highlighting the growing malady of child laborers in Iran. “We could have bought 110,000 tablets for schoolchildren during the pandemic. One of them could have been Mohammad Mousavizdeh. He wouldn’t have to take his own life,” another user wrote.

11-year-old Mohammad and several more Iranian children have committed suicide over their inability to purchase the required digital devices to join online classes.




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