Lebanese Outraged By Beirut Tribute to Iranian General Killed in US Airstrike
Lebanese opponents of the Islamist terror group Hezbollah and its sponsor Iran flocked to social media channels on Wednesday to protest the erection of a bronze bust in the capital Beirut of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian military commander killed in a US airstrike near Baghdad Airport in Iraq in Jan. 2020.
The statue of Soleimani was erected Tuesday by the Ghobeiry municipality in a Hezbollah stronghold near Beirut’s airport. In his capacity as commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Soleimani was a key architect of Hezbollah’s terrorist campaign against Israel.
On Twitter, several Lebanese commentators complained that the bust of Soleimani was more evidence of Tehran’s intrusion into their country’s affairs.
One user, Wael Atallah, said that the statue amounted to “cultural aggression,” adding that “hundreds of thousands of Lebanese today feel violated and powerless.”
Local journalist Luna Safwan, who was targeted by Hezbollah last year after an Israeli media outlet carried her tweet, commented: “New Qassem Sulaimani statue in #Lebanon – with Lebanese flags in the background, useful to remind us where we are. Whats next? Sulaimani stamps?”
Nizar Hassan, a Beirut-based expert on Lebanese politics, remarked that “Hezbollah seems pretty damn desperate to make late Iranian General Qassem Soleimani a local hero, despite knowing that for the majority of people in Lebanon, he simply represents a foreign power.”
Hassan noted that the bust in Beirut was “one of many statues just erected to commemorate his assassination.”