Conflicts between residents of several Lebanese villages and towns, which involve disputes over property ownership and sometimes even water resources, have never ceased.
Nonetheless, these issues only garner media attention when armed clashes erupt, or casualties are reported.
After a property dispute in the town of Lassa, located in the mountainous region of Jbeil (Mount Lebanon), dominated the scene in recent years between the town’s Shiite residents and the Maronite Patriarchate, the focus shifted last week with the occurrence of two fatalities in the Qurnat as Sawda area in northern Lebanon.
The incident took place during a shootout between farmers from the predominantly Christian Bsharri region and the predominantly Sunni Muslim Bqaa Safrin region.
This incident reignited attention on the property conflict between the residents of both areas, which extends to a dispute over irrigation water.
The property disputes are not limited to the aforementioned areas but also extend to the regions of Qoubaiyat in northern Lebanon, predominantly Christian, and Hermel, predominantly Shiite.
Additionally, the towns of Fnaydeq and Akkar Al-Atiqa in the north, predominantly Sunni, as well as the predominantly Christian town of Aaqoura in the Jbeil region, and the Shiite town of Yammouneh in the Bekaa Valley, are also affected.
While these conflicts may seem transient and natural, given that approximately 30% of Lebanese lands lack documented ownership, the fact that most residents of the disputed towns belong to different religious sects adds a sectarian dimension that threatens civil peace.
On Tuesday of last week, Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, formed a committee headed by the Minister of Interior and Municipalities in the caretaker government, Bassem Mawlawi.
The committee also includes representatives from the Ministries of Environment, Energy, Water, Finance, Justice, Agriculture, the Council for Development and Reconstruction, and the Army Command.
The committee’s main task is to study the issue of property border disputes and conflicts over water in multiple designated regions. The committee has been instructed to submit its report to the cabinet within a two-month deadline.