Lebanese Politicians Fear Hezbollah Exploitation of ‘Trash Crisis’ to Overthrow Government
Politicians in Lebanon are increasingly concerned that local terror group Hezbollah has hijacked the country’s ongoing garbage crisis in an effort to overthrow the government and seize power, Israel’s Maariv reported on Monday.
The Lebanese politicians told the London-based Al-Arab newspaper that Hezbollah was exploiting the “You Stink” protests and civil disturbances that have arisen as a result, including clashes between Lebanese citizens and the country’s security forces, to topple the government of Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who leans towards the pro-Western March 14 Alliance.
Since May 2014, Salam, a Sunni Muslim, has served as acting president of Lebanon, due to political paralysis created by Hezbollah and its political allies, Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement and the Shi’a Amal Party, preventing the election of a new president, normally a Maronite Christian.
The goal of Hezbollah, the Lebanese politicians told Al-Arab, is “to create a power vacuum amid the [Lebanese] parliament’s failure to elect a new president who is acceptable to everyone.”
These politicians see proof of this in the fact that at the beginning of the “You Stink” protests, Lebanese citizens critical of the government’s inability to deal with the country’s sanitation needs were holding up signs to this effect. But, as soon as Hezbollah operatives joined in, placards suddenly appeared, calling for the toppling of the government, with a focus on two of Hezbollah’s political foes — Prime Minister Salam, and Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk.
Machnouk is a member of the “Future Bloc” political coalition, led by former Prime Minister and current Minister of Parliament Saad Hariri, the son of the late Rafik Hariri, whom Hezbollah has been accused of assassinating.
Salam’s government, which includes rival Lebanese parties from both the pro-Western March 14 camp and Hezbollah and its political allies, has avoided a complete vacuum in its executive branch, but has been so hampered by internecine strife that it struggles to reach even the most basic decisions, even when it comes to forging a plan to deal with Beirut’s waste-disposal crisis.
According to the report, Hezbollah has repeatedly attempted to exploit this paralysis, particularly with the trash crisis, to highlight the impotence of the government and subtly present itself as a viable alternative.
Last week, MP Mohammad Raad, the head of Hezbollah’s Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc, criticized the Lebanese government’s ability to tackle important issues. He said that political parties that are unable to resolve so basic a problem as garbage disposal could not possibly deal with greater matters, such as war and peace, particularly when pertaining to Israel.
“Is it reasonable that a country in the world cannot find a solution to its garbage crisis?” asked Raad rhetorically during a speech he delivered in the southern town of Ain Qana.
“The crisis only exists in Lebanon, and the reason is that there is a crisis of splitting shares and the presence of greed and rottenness inside state institutions,” he said. “The state is too weak to be able to address a garbage crisis.”
The lawmaker said certain political parties in the government are asking the people to grant them “an authorization for deciding war and peace with the Israeli enemy.”
But, he asked, “If you can’t resolve a waste crisis, how will you be able to resolve a war crisis or to confront the enemy that is backed by all countries in the world?”