BEIRUT — A proposal to build an Iran-funded power plant on the Golf Club of Lebanon in the southern Beirut suburb of Ghobeiri sparked controversy over the weekend.
Here's what we know:
• After meeting with Lebanese officials last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian announced that “Iranian companies are ready to build two power plants in Lebanon in 18 months and supply the country with 1,000 megawatts [of electricity].”
• Subsequently, Ghobeiri Mayor Maan Khalil posted on social media, "We welcome the Iranian offer to provide a 1,000-megawatt power plant within the property of the Golf Club in Ghobeiri." Khalil claimed that the club has not paid fees to the municipality in four years.
• The proposal quickly drew an outcry in political and environmental circles, our sister publication L'Orient-Le Jour reports, including from the Lebanon Eco Movement, which posted that "the lung of the southern suburbs...is threatened" by the proposal.
• Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Joumblatt posted on social media Saturday, "In Iran, they respect nature and green parks and for thousands of years have celebrated the spring festival of Nowrouz. As for the opposition insisting on providing us with a power plant, is it necessary to expropriate the gulf club [sic] to build it, which is a special green space in the concrete jungle of Beirut and its suburbs." Joumblatt subsequently removed the post from Twitter, although it remained on Facebook, and posted Sunday, "The important thing is to secure electricity above all, because I do not want to be misunderstood."