The ominous Jihadis war; From Tripoli to Tripoli:

The ominous Jihadis war; From Tripoli to Tripoli:

May 23, 2020

By Ghassan Kadi for the Saker Blog

The ‘War on Syria’ is far from being over, and it will continue until all foreign forces illegally present on Syrian soil retreat; either willingly, or defeated.

And even though the American presence in Syria has no clear and realistic political purpose other than wreaking havoc. and making it hard for Russia to help reach a decisive victory, in a twist of fate, the focus of the Russo-American conflict in the region may soon move away from Syria.

In reality, the outcome of the ‘War on Syria’ was never expected by the initial assembly of adversaries when they launched the attack. Furthermore, they had many deep differences and nothing in common other than a shared hatred for Syria, but the unexpected turn of events has intensified their internal conflict and seemingly catapulted the strife between those former allies much further afield to a new hub in Libya.

Whilst the world and its media are busy with COVID-19, a new huge struggle is brewing, and this time, it is drawing new lines and objectives that are in reality going to be fueled, financed and executed by the former once-united enemies of Syria; but this time, it will be against each other.

An array of regional and international issues lies behind the impending conflict; and to call it impending is an under-statement. It is already underway, but hasn’t reached its peak yet, let alone making any significant news coverage.

It is a real mess in Libya now, and the short version of a long story goes like this:

Soon after NATO hijacked the UNSC mandate to enforce a no-fly-zone decision over Libya and manipulated it in a manner that ‘legalised’ bombing Libya culminating in toppling and killing Gadhafi, the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the formal capital Tripoli on the Western side of the coast, was created.

But the ‘revolution’ against Gadhafi was launched in the eastern coastal city of Benghazi. After Gadhafi’s demise, another interim government was formed in Libya’s east under the name of National Transitional Council (NTC).

The NTC, whose flag is the flag of the ‘revolution’, did not recognize the GNA and regarded it as a Western lackey.

After a few years of squabbling, NTC strongman General Haftar decided to militarily disable the GNA.

With little concrete protection on the ground from the West, and under the guise of upholding UNSC mandates, Erdogan jumped into the existing void and the opportunity to grab Libya’s oil, and decided to send troops to support the GNA.

In return, Haftar is getting support from other regional players. Recently, representatives from Egypt, the UAE, Greece, Cyprus and France had a meeting and denounced Turkey’s involvement in Libya. Erdogan perhaps borrowed a term from his American part-ally-part-adversary and referred to the meeting and its decree as an ‘alliance of evil’. Fancy this, a NATO member accusing other NATO members of being in an alliance of evil.

It must be noted that even though Saudi Arabia did not attend the meeting, it was there in spirit, and represented by its proxy-partner the UAE.

The USA took a step further and accused Russia and Syria of working behind the scenes and planning to send fighters to Libya to support Haftar.

But this article is not about the geopolitical hoo-ha. It is about shedding a light on what score-settling is expected to eventuate in Libya, and who is likely to end up doing the fighting against who.

Even though the Afghani Mujahedeen were purportedly the first Jihadi fighters to engage in battle in the 20th Century, their fight was against foreign USSR troops. In terms of an internal force that aimed for fundamentalist Muslim rule, there is little doubt that the first event of such insurgency in the Middle East was the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) revolt that took place in Syria in the early 1980’s and which was quashed by the then President, Hafez Assad. After their smashing defeat, the fundamentalists kept their heads low until they lit the flame again in the Palestinian refugee Naher Al-Bared Camp at the northern outskirts of Tripoli Lebanon in 2007.

There are, for those who are unaware, two cities bearing the name Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast; one is in Northern Lebanon, and it is Lebanon’s second largest city, and the other Tripoli is located on the Western side of the Libyan Coast. They are sometimes called Tripoli of the East and Tripoli of the West, respectively.

Shaker Al-Absi, leader of Fateh Al Islam, a Salafist terror organization, declared jihad and engaged in a bitter fight against the Lebanese Army. He was defeated, remained at large, but any look at Lebanon’s Tripoli after his demise displayed a clear evidence of a huge build-up of Salafist presence in the city.

When the ‘War on Syria’ started only four years later, Tripoli became a major hub for the transport of fighters and munitions from Lebanon into Syria. Nearly a decade later, and with a few Jihadi pockets left in the Idlib province now, their defeat in Syria is imminent.

But who exactly are those murderous head-chopping radical elements that we talking about; past and present?

When the coalition that started the attack on Syria took form, it was comprised virtually of all of Syria’s enemies. Most of them were religious fundamentalists. In an early article, I called them ‘The Anti-Syrian Cocktail’.

Back then, ISIS, did not exist in the form that it became known as. Furthermore, I have always advocated that there was no difference at all between Al-Nusra and ISIS and/or any other Takfiri organizations. They are all terror-based and founded on violent readings of Islam.

In time however, and this didn’t take long, it became apparent that even though the ideologies were identical, there were two major financiers and facilitators to those many different terror organizations. One was primarily funded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the other by Qatar and facilitated by Turkey.

The former group is affiliated with what is known as Saudi Wahhabi Islam. They are also known as the Salafists. The latter group are the MB’s.

As the war was shifting in favour of Syria, their agendas diverged, the schism grew deeper and strong rivalries emerged; especially as the Wahhabis and their sponsors were sent home defeated. Part of this fallout was the ongoing Saudi-Qatari conflict.

But the rivalry that is least spoken about is personal. It is the one between Erdogan and Al-Saud.

They are both fighting over the leadership of fundamentalist Sunni Islam. But Erdogan also has his nationalist anti-Kurdish agenda, and of course, he is desperate to put his hands on oil supplies that he can call his own. He cannot find oil on Turkish soil or in Turkish waters, but he is prepared to act as a regional pirate and a thug and steal another nation’s oil. If no one is to stop him, he feels that he can and will.

Upon realizing that Turkey could not get in Syria either victory or oil, Erdogan is now turning his face west towards Libya. He finds in Libya a few scores that he hopes to settle after his failure in Syria. He wants a face-saving military victory, he wants to assert his position as THE Sunni leader who can reclaim glory, and he wants free oil. Last but not least, In Libya, he will find himself close to Egypt’s Sisi; the political/religious enemy who toppled his MB friend and ally, President Mursi.

On the other side, defeated but not totally out, Saudi Arabia wants blood; Erdogan’s blood.

The Saudis blame Erdogan (and Qatar) for their loss in Syria because he was more focused on his own agenda and spoils rather than the combined ones of the former alliance they had with him. They blame him for abandoning them and making deals with Russia. They hold him responsible for the breakup of the unity of Muslim fundamentalism. They fear his aspirations for gaining the hearts and minds of Muslims who regard him as a de-facto Caliph. As a matter of fact, it was Saudi Crown Prince MBS who used the borrowed word ‘evil’ first when he stated more than two years ago that Erdogan was a part of a ‘Triangle of Evil’. And how can we forget the Khashoggi debacle and the ensuing standoff between Turkey and Saudi Arabia?

We must stop and remember once again that not long ago at all, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were allies, who together, plotted how to invade Syria and bring her down to her knees. These are the heads of the two major countries that facilitated the war machine with Saudi money injecting fighters and munitions into Syria from the south, and open Turkish borders and Qatari money injecting them from the north.

Back to Libyan General Haftar. In his westerly advance along Libya’s terrain, he cleaned up the ISIS elements who stood in his way and hindered his progress. But ironically, he is now fighting their religious rival; the Turks, the protectors of the MB’s.

The USA may accuse Syria of sending troops into Libya, but where is the proof and why should Syria do this after all? And even though the Saudis and the Emiratis are warming up relationships with Syria, the Syrian Army is still engaged in battle and is not prepared to go and fight in Libya. There is nothing for it to gain. Once the war is over, Syria will be concerned with rebuilding a war-torn nation. Syria has no interests in Libya; none what-so-ever.

The role of Russia is not very clear on the ground even though there are clear indications that Russia supports Haftar ideologically. The support began when Haftar demonstrated to the Russians that he was adamant about fighting ISIS and exterminating its presence in Libya. He lived up to this promise thus far and gained Russian respect.

How will the situation in Libya eventually pan out is anyone’s guess. That said, apart from sending regular Turkish Army units, Erdogan is not short on rounding up fighters; and he has attained much experience in this infamous field of expertise from his vicious attack on Syria. With Qatari money in his pocket, he can recruit as many fighters as Qatar can afford.

Erdogan realizes that the West is not interested in backing him up militarily in Libya. The best deal he can get from America is a tacit support. And with France, a NATO member taking part in the above-mentioned five-nation conference, he will definitely have to stand alone so-to-speak.

He has Qatar behind him, but how powerful is Qatar? A ‘nation’ of 200,000 citizens? How can such a small state play such a big role and why?

Qatar is not really a nation or even a state in the true sense. Qatar is an entity, a ‘corporation’ owned by a ruling dynasty that serves the interests of the USA and Israel. This family will outlay any sum of money to guarantee its own protection and continuity.

And Erdogan, the friend-and-foe of both of America and Israel, knows the vulnerabilities and strengths of Qatar, and he is using his deceptive talents to provide the Qatari ruling family with the securities that the shortfalls that America and Israel do not provide. For example, it was he who sent troops to Qatar after the Saudi threats. And even though Erdogan will never take any serious actions against his NATO masters except in rhetoric, the weak and fearful Qataris will dance to the tune of any protector and will sell their souls to the devil should they need to.

On the other hand in Libya, if Haftar finds himself facing a huge Turkish army, he will need assistance on the ground. Where will he seek it from?  His next-door neighbour Egypt? If so, will it be in the form of regular army units or hired guns?

Sisi is neither a religious nor a fundamentalist zealot, but this is not meant to be a complementary statement. He has not taken any serious black-and-white steps in regional politics. This does not mean he is a man of principles. He is probably waiting for dollar signs, and if he sees financial benefits in supporting Saudi Arabia in a proxy war against Turkey in Libya, he may opt to agree; if the price it right.

Whether or not Saudi Arabia can afford a new war, especially with current crude prices, is another story, but as the war on Yemen winds down, the gung-ho MBS is irrational enough to be persuaded. His regional enemy is no longer Assad. His current enemy is Erdogan.

To be fair to MBS, despite his vile, criminal and megalomaniac attributes, he never claims to be a religious leader, but Erdogan does, and many Sunni Muslims see in Erdogan THE leader they have been waiting for. This alone constitutes a huge challenge for MBS because neither he, nor anyone else in the whole of Saudi Arabia for that matter, is regarded anywhere in the Muslim World as a potential leader of the Sunni Muslims.

In reality, as far as Muslim leadership is concerned, the Saudis can only bank on the location of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Apart from this, they only have wealth that enables them to buy supporters, but their oil wealth is becoming increasingly vulnerable.

In the uphill fight against Erdogan within the Muslim World, both of the Saudis and the Turks realize that the fight between them in Syria is over. Actually, the Saudis have no loyal ‘troops’ on Syrian soil left to fight anyone with. This begs the question of whether or not the Turks and Saudis are moving the battle ground and the score settling from Syria to Libya.

This time around, such a potential battle between the two lines of Jihadis may have to morph from a fight between terror organizations to a war between regular armies; the Turkish Army against the Egyptian Army. Such a battle will rage over Libyan soil, with the Turks financed by Qatar and Egypt by Saudi Arabia.

Such a war will not necessarily bring in Iran into the fight. If it eventuates, it will be a fundamentalist Sunni-Sunni war, sponsored by fundamentalist Sunni states, each fighting for and against different versions of radical Muslim fundamentalism, under the watchful eyes of the USA and to the glee of Israel.

The jihadi war that was first ignited in Tripoli Lebanon between a rogue terror organization and the Lebanese Army did not end. It kept moving theatres and objectives and changing players. Is the final score going to be settled in Tripoli Libya?

Yes Yarmouk – A Palestinian Responsibility

F$A terrorists hanged two Palestinians in Yarmouk Camp near Damascus… their crime? they were found guilty of being PATRIOTIC TO PALESTINE AND SYRIA 

“We know that there are wholesale and retail tragedy trade of our people in YARMOUK, the camp of martyrs, exercised by members of the media workers and journalists without consciences.” Nidal Hamad

The following article WRITTEN by Nour Shamaha, the Managing Editor of Al Akhbar English and a  journalist for Al Jazeera English. Her last article in Al Jazeera was puplished on 13 Aug 2013 

She moved to spread her poison at Al Akhbar English.

Her article is an indirect comment on the article of her chief editor Ibrahim Al-amin titled: Yarmouk – A Palestinian Responsibility.

Nour Shamaha held the “regime” for the siege of Yarmouk and staving its people, she ignored that Syria treated the Palestinians like Syrian. She indirectly blamed Sayyed  Nasrallah for not Saying: Yarmouk is a RED LINE, Ignoring that Yarmouk is not Nahr al-Barid, and Syria is not Lebanon.  “In Syria, Palestinians were citizens.” 

“As Lebanese we cannot ignore the plight of the Palestinians, and as Lebanese we should remember distinctly the horrors that fell on the civilians of Nahr al-Bared in 2007.” she claimed 

I checked her writings at Al-Jazeera, and found nothing written about the “horrors that fell on the civilians of Nahr al-Bared in 2007.” I checked her coverage at Lebanese dailystar. She wrote:

“The Fatah al-Islam militants [In Syria they are rebels] still control an area of approximately 15,000 square meters, while the army was advancing slowly so as to spare the lives of the 50 to 60 civilians remaining inside the camp, said another army source to AFP.  

 “The army is not motivated by vengeance,” said the source in the AFP report, referring to those remaining inside to support the militants. “We have told them that they would get a fair trial.”

More than 30,000 refugees have fled the camp since the start of the battle, with about 100 people remaining inside, mostly militants and their families…. [ In Syria she ignored to mention that in Yarmouk those who remained  are mostly mostly militants and their families] Read more:

Ibrahim al-Amin was right in saying to Nour likes:

“Those who believe this is an expression of solidarity with Palestinians, let them have it. Those who think that such a stupid slogan helps Palestinians, they are ridiculous.”

“The Syrian army is neither the Israeli occupying forces nor the racist Lebanese gangs. The armed groups in the camp are not the pioneers of the Palestinian revolution. The Salafi Palestinian movement is not the Palestine Liberation Organization. And the road to Palestine doesn’t pass through Damascus.”

 “The camp’s most prominent group is Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis Brigades (Brigades in the Environs of Jerusalem), formed by members of Hamas, including a bodyguard of Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal. Hamas claims the group leaders are no longer within its organizational structure, but still refuses to condemn their actions. Some of these militants provided assistance to armed groups outside the camp and even outside Damascus countryside.”

 “Can any Palestinian explain the secret of this great enthusiasm to topple the Assad regime? Whose interests are they serving by destroying Syria?”more

Look at the once upon a time so-called Sheikh a-Aqsa: Damascus is our road to Jerusalem

BTW, I am not so fond of Al-amin and criticized his ridiculous call to transfer Palestinians of Syria to Gaza. 


Yarmouk Camp – A Responsibility to Protect

Palestinian children who were living in Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp before fleeing Syria, hold banners during a protest in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Beirut January 17, 2013. (Photo: Reuters – Sharif Karim)
By: Nour Samaha (Former journalist for Al Jazeera English.)
Published Wednesday, January 15, 2014
What is happening, and has been happening for months now, in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus is criminal. A siege upon any segment of a civilian population is outrageous, but on a civilian refugee population – one enclosed within a camp already living in horrific conditions no less – is beyond deplorable.
One cannot ignore the endless stories emerging from the camp describing how dire the situation has become, the stories of starvation, the stories of restriction of movement, and the lack of access to basic humanitarian aid. Nor can one ignore the desperate pleas from the civilians trapped inside, calling for a chance to escape the battle zone.
As Lebanese we cannot ignore the plight of the Palestinians, and as Lebanese we should remember distinctly the horrors that fell on the civilians of Nahr al-Bared in 2007.
Back then, as the Lebanese army shelled indiscriminately in an effort to rid the camp of fighters from Fatah al-Islam and its affiliates, we, the supporters of the Palestinian cause, raised our voices against the violence endured by the most vulnerable – the civilians caught in between. We made the effort to discern between combatants and civilians, and we expressed outrage at those who refused to do so.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said at the time – and much to the chagrin of the Lebanese who stood firmly behind their army – “The Nahr al-Bared camp and the Palestinian civilians are a red line.”
Yarmouk should also be a red line. Much as we differentiated between fighters and civilians in Nahr al-Bared, we should apply the same standards to Yarmouk.
The responsibility lies first and foremost with the Syrian regime and the rebels, who have a moral duty to protect a vulnerable population. Yet as supporters of the Palestinian cause, as fighters for the Palestinian cause, it is also our duty to defend and protect the rights of those most vulnerable – those who are forced into an untenable position between two opposing sides.
We have a responsibility to raise our voices and demand action against these atrocities. We have a responsibility to distinguish, and to remind others who forget, the difference between the oppressors and the oppressed.
The civilian population should not have to suffer from the battles between the regime and the rebels. They should not be held hostage by fighting groups. They should not be made to suffer for their fractured and incompetent leadership (something the Lebanese are all too familiar with). More importantly, they should not be collectively punished for the actions of a few.
We are all aware of how difficult the plight of a refugee is, whether they are Palestinian, Syrian, Iraqi, or Sudanese. We are also well aware of how badly refugees are treated in Lebanon – for many, the choice of staying in Yarmouk still seems better than coming to Lebanon. Does that make them responsible?
We are all responsible for those civilians in Yarmouk, and it is our responsibility to ensure their safety, their access to basic food and medication, and their safe passage out of the camp.
Whatever we may think of either side in the Syrian war, we must not wash our hands of the thousands of civilians left behind.
Nour Samaha is managing editor of Al-Akhbar English.

مخيم اليرموك مأساة تدق جدران الفلسطينيين أولا والعرب ثانيا والعالم بشكل عام ثالثا.
أم الجرائم في عصرنا الحديث ان يموت الفلسطيني في المخيم جوعا. وان لا يتعامل المحتلون للمخيم مع الموضوع بشكل جدي، وان يواصلوا استباحتهم للمخيم واحتجاز سكانه وسرقة المعونات القليلة التي تدخله بموافقة السلطات السورية التي تحاصره خوفا من تمدد المسلحين نحو العاصمة دمشق. فاليرموك هو خاصرة العاصمة وبوابتها الجنوبية.. وبالرغم من هذا الخطر الحقيقي والكبير على قلب دمشق إلا ان السلطات السورية سمحت بإدخال المساعدات وبخروج الناس من المخيم بشكل منظم، وعبر تدقيق في هويات الخارجين. فهناك وفق المراقبين عدد من قوافل الإغاث
ة والأدوية دخلت المخيم رسميا وبموافقة القوات السورية ولكن تم نهبها من قبل المسلحين ولم يصل منها أي شيء لأي فرد من المقيمين الأبرياء.

كما ان الجيش السوري أمّن منافذ لخروج الناس من المخيم، من عدة منافذ وقد خرج كثيرون. فيما منع المسلحون خروج الآخرين. كما فعلوا قبل أيام حين أطلقوا النار على المسعفين والمرضى الذين كانوا يريدون الخروج بعد موافقة السلطات السورية التي فتحت لهم ممرا آمنا من شارع فلسطين.

لم يخف قادة المعارضة السورية العسكريين والسياسيين منهم أنهم دخلوا اليرموك كي لا يخرجوا منه وكي يكون بوابتهم الى العاصمة دمشق والمسجد الأموي.  سمعنا هذه التصريحات وشاهدناها في الفضائيات يوم سقوط المخيم وبعد احتلاله من قبل هؤلاء المحتلين. وفي رسالة كتبها قبل أيام الصديق الكاتب الفلسطيني عدنان كنفاني المقيم في دمشق قال :  للأسف إن بعض “الفئات” من الفلسطينيين ضالعون في إيقاع الحصار على الناس وتجويعهم وسبب معاناتهم.

بعض الذين يدعون حرصهم وخوفهم على المخيم وسكانه كانوا جزءا أساسيا من أعداء المخيم وناسه وسكانه لأسباب مختلفة وعديدة، فمنهم من ساهم في دعم ومساعدة المسلحين قبل سقوط المخيم وتوفير البيئة الحاضنة لهم، وأكثر من ذلك منحهم الغطاء والعمل معهم في سبيل تنفيذ مشاريعهم ظنا منهم أن النظام سيسقط عاجلا أم آجلا. هؤلاء يعرفهم القاصي والداني من أهل المخيم فمنهم من مازال في المخيم ومنهم من فر ويمارس تجارته بجوع أهل المخيم من دول الجوار ومن دول اللجوء الجديد في أوروبا.  

من هؤلاء هناك ايضا من عمل دليلا مع المسلحين وسلم العديد من أبناء المخيم. ومنهم من سلم مكاتب
 لفصائل فلسطينية وقال يومها الآن أصبح اسم هذا التنظيم  “الجبهة الحرة” او “اليوم انتهى زمن طلال ناجي نائب الأمين العام للجبهة الشعبية لتحرير فلسطين القيادة العامة”. هؤلاء انطلقوا في أعمالهم التخريبية من منطلقات العداء للنظام السوري والفصائل المتحالفة معه او لتسديد فواتير قديمة مع هؤلاء كلهم. ومنهم من عمل لانخراطه في مشروع تكفيري أو إسلامي إخواني يعادي النظام، وكان ينتظر الفرصة او كان نفسه شريكا في الإعداد لذلك.

سارع قصف المخيم من قبل النظام او المعارضة في نشر الهلع بين سكانه ورحيلهم وتشردهم في بقاع الأرض قاطبة.  فيما بقي آلاف من سكان المخيم في اليرموك مفضلين الصمود على الهجرة والتشرد واللجوء من جديد. هؤلاء يدفعون الآن فاتورة صمودهم ورفضهم النكبة الجديدة للشعب العربي الفلسطيني. لكن هؤلاء وجدوا أنفسهم رهائن لواقع جديد في مخيم محتل ومستباح ومنهوب من قبل العصابات المسلحة، وعلى الناحية الثانية محاصر بشدة من قبل النظام واللجان الشعبية الفلسطينية التي تقاتل لتحرير المخيم.  للنظام أسبابه المقنعة في حصار المخيم وهي منع التمدد نحو دمشق. وهذا خط احمر لا يمكن ان يتساهل النظام في هذا الأمر المصيري بالنسبة له. ويبدو ان المسلحين الذين احتلوا المخيم لا يعبئون بسكانه ولا بمصيرهم وهمهم ان يحتفظوا بقاعدة متقدمة لهم على أعتاب العاصمة. نتيجة علمهم ومعرفتهم السابقة بان النظام لن يهاجم المخيم عسكريا كي لا تستغل قضية المخيم واللاجئين الفلسطينيين ضده سياسيا وإعلاميا ودوليا. وكي لا يكون سببا في قتل أهل المخيم وتدميره.
اختار النظام حصار المخيم واختارت المعارضة المسلحة احتلال المخيم. ومع تطور الأحداث في المناطق المجاورة لليرموك وسقوط وحصار العديد من مناطق المسلحين في جوار المخيم. تحركت العملية السياسية والتفاوضية قليلا، خاصة بعد حل بعض العقد بالتفاوض في مناطق بدمشق والغوطة. فتم بعد مفاوضات مارتونية التوقيع على اتفاقية اليرموك بين المسلحين المحتلين والفصائل الفلسطينية كافة وبلا استثناء وكذلك اللجان الشعبية، بموافقة ومباركة السلطات السورية. وعندما تبين ان الاتفاق سيسري وان غالبية المسلحين الفلسطينيين في المخيم وكتائبهم وافقت على ذلك ووقعت، وبدأ عمل في الاتفاقية سارعت المجموعات الغريبة عن المخيم مع بعض الفلسطينيين المسلحين الى إعلان رفضها الالتزام بالاتفاقية واعتقال ووضع قادة الكتائب والمجموعات الفلسطينية الموقعة رهن الإقامة الإجبارية.  ثم شنت المجموعات المتشددة عدة هجمات على مواقع اللجان الشعبية ولكنها لم تنجح في تحقيق أي تقدم.
وعادت الأمور الى ما كانت عليه قبل التوقيع على الاتفاقية وازدادت سوءا مع تفاقم الحصار والجوع.  الغريب في الأمر كله أن المناطق المجاورة للمخيم وهي أيضا محاصرة مثل اليرموك لم تشهد جوعا ولا موت بسبب الجوع. ولم نر مسلحا واحدا يموت جوعا في اليرموك ويلدا وبليلا والقدم والعسالي، بل العكس نراهم في صحة جيدة. فالجوع مقتصر على سكان مخيم اليرموك. وهنا من المهم ان نذكر بان المسلحين عندما احتلوا المخيم والمناطق المجاورة له قاموا بسلب ونهب كل شيء هناك، مما وفر لهم مونة تكفيهم على ما يبدو لفترة زمنية طويلة. إضافة لذلك فهم تمكنوا خلال فترة الاحتلال أو ممكن قبل ذلك بكثير من حفر أنفاق توصلهم بمناطق أخرى يسيطرون عليها يأتي منها التسليح والتموين. وكذلك سطوهم على المساعدات الاغاثية التي تدخل المخيم عبر الصليب الأحمر والهلال الأحمر ومؤسسات إغاثة محلية ودولية لمساعدة السكان المدنيين المحاصرين بداخله.
كتب مؤخرا الصديق الكاتب الفلسطيني عدنان كنفاني من دمشق يقول:
” مخيم اليرموك حسماً لكل كلام مزيّف يحاول تشويه الحقائق وتزييف الصورة، نقول، ومن منطلق معلومات، ومشاهدات ومتابعة شبه يومية، بأن الوضع في مخيم اليرموك هو كالتالي:
ـ عشرات من محاولات الاتفاق على خروج المسلحين وترميم المخيم ولجان إشراف لتوفير البنى التحتية ووسائل الحياة فشلت بسبب المسلحين، على اختلاف مشاربهم “وألويتهم وكتائبهم” وللأسف بعضها فلسطيني، وفي كل مرة يسقط شهداء وضحايا، ولا بأس أن نذكر بأن بعض الوسطاء استفادوا من ذلك بشتى الوسائل ولا أجد فائدة ترجى من ذكرها.
ـ المسلحون في داخل المخيم، نهبوا البيوت والمحلات والمخازن والمستودعات وخيرات المخيم، وتلذذوا بأكل الطيبات وعيون الأبرياء تنظر وغير مسموح لأحد منهم أن يقترب.
ـ المسلحون حفروا أنفاقاً تمدّهم بالسلاح والمرتزقة والتموين والذخيرة من خارج المخيم ومن عدد من المناطق المجاورة، وأقاموا أسواقاً لبيع المسروقات وبشكل علني في شوارع يلدا والحجر الأسود وآخر المخيم من طريق اليرموك وفلسطين.
ـ من لم يخرج من المخيم من الأهالي هم إما ممنوعون من الخروج من قبل المسلحين “دروع بشرية”، أو يخافون من إشاعات تسربت بأن الجيش ينتظر خروجهم ليعتقلهم أو يقتلهم، وإما من فئات تعتبر من أهل أو حاضنة للمسلحين.

ـ كل من خرج من المخيم أمّنت لهم الدولة مراكز إيواء وتغطية احتياجاتهم كاملة من طعام وعلاج وسكن”.
في الختام لا يجوز وغير مقبول وممنوع أن يموت أهل المخيم جوعا وان يبقى سكانه رهائن مختطفين من قبل المسلحين، ولا يجوز للمحاصرين للمخيم ان لا يبحثوا عن وسائل وطرق جديدة لإنهاء هذه المأساة مع حفظ امن دمشق ومنع استغلال المسلحين لهذه الحالة الإنسانية كي يندسوا بين السكان الأبرياء الذين من المفترض ان يخرجوا من المخيم. فالمحتلون غير آبهين بمصير سكان اليرموك ولو ماتوا كلهم جوعا. ولن يغيروا من سياستهم مادام الوضع في المخيم لا يشهد تغييرات أساسية مثل قيام انتفاضة جياع ضدهم تحرك ضمائر المسلحين الفلسطينيين من أبناء المخيم، تجعلهم يواجهون المحتلين لإنقاذ أهالي المخيم من الموت جوعا ومن اجل تطبيق الاتفاقية الموقعة بين الأطراف. أو على الأقل ضمان وصول المساعدات الاغاثية للسكان ومنع المسلحين الآخرين من سرقتها والتجارة بها والهيمنة عليها. ونخص بالذكر المجموعات التي وقعت على الاتفاقيات السلمية التي نصت على إنهاء احتلال المخيم وتحييده. خاصة ان اللجان الشعبية والجبهة الشعبية القيادة العامة والنظام السوري قدموا كل التسهيلات الممكنة لإنجاح الاتفاقيات. وبعد تأكيدات كثيرة من مصادر عديدة منها فتح واللجنة التنفيذية لمنظمة التحرير الفلسطينية أن المسلحين المحتلين للمخيم هم من نقض الاتفاقية ويعيقون تطبيقها، وبان النظام السوري لن يحرر المخيم بالوسائل العسكرية حفاظا على سكانه ولكي لا يدمر.
نعرف ان هناك تجارة بالمفرق وبالجملة بمأساة أهلنا في مخيم الشهداء والعطاء، يمارسها أفراد وإعلاميون وصحافيون بلا ضمائر، وتمارسها جماعات وتنظيمات وحركات وتنسيقيات وهيئات غالبيتها العظمى كانت شريكة في جريمة تسليم المخيم للمحتلين من العصابات المسلحة. ونعرف ان هناك كثيرون لا يريدون للمخيم ان يتحرر من الاحتلال ويكون منطقة محايدة آمنة للجميع. ولا يريدون عودة سكانه المهجرون والمشتتون واللاجئون في كل الدنيا.

Vows of ‘Occupation Until Martyrdom’

 Seven of Syria’s Thirteen Palestinian camps now controlled by Salafi- Jihadists
Homs Palestinian Camp, Syria
Syria: Al-Nusra Front
Jihadists are entering Syria at an accelerating pace, according to Syrian, UNWRA, and Palestinian officials as well as residents in the refugee camps here. For the now-estimated 7000 imported foreign fighters, Palestinian camps are seen as optimal locales for setting up bases across Syria.
“Syria’s Palestinian camps have become theaters of war,” said UNWRA Commissioner Filippo Grandi.The Syrian people compassionately host 10 official, UN-mandated Palestinian camps, along with three unofficial ones, whose populations total at least 230,000. Eight of these are “Nakba (“catastrophe”) camps,” organized soon after Palestinians were expelled from their homes in 1948, while two, Qabr Essit and Dera’a (emergency camp), are “Naksa (“day of setback”) camps.” The latter were set up in 1967 as a result of the internationally condemned Zionist-colonial aggression against the two sister-Arab-nationalist regions—Palestine’s West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights.
And it was on the Ides of March of the year 2011 we saw an explosion of violence near one of these camps, the Dera’a camp established in 1950, in the south near the Jordanian border.But first, perhaps a simple listing of the camps, along with their populations and dates of establishment, would be in order here:
1950, Dera’a, 5,916
1967, Dera’a (Emergency), 5,536
1950, Hama, 7,597
1949, Homs, 13,825
1948, Jaramana, 5,007
1950, Khan Dunoun, 8,603
1949, Khan Eshieh, 15,731
1948, Neirab, 17,994
1967, Qabr Essit, 16,016
1948, Sbeineh, 19,624
1955-6, Latakia camp, 6,534 registered refugees
1957, Yarmouk Camp, 112,550 registered refugees
1962, Ein Al-Tal, 4,329 registered refugees

As of 8/8/13, seven of the camps—two in the north and five in the Damascus area and in the south of Syria—are presently with their throats under the jackboot of foreign Salafi-Jihadists. These jihadist cells moved against the camps early in the current crisis for purposes of forced recruitment, to benefit from a supply of noncombatant human shields, to shakedown the residents and take over UNWRA facilities, and to make use of the erstwhile “refugee camp security zones.” All these steps were precursory to the setting up of military bases from which to launch operations aimed at toppling the current government of the Syrian Arab Republic.

How do the jihadists infiltrate the camps?

How is it possible that more than half of the Palestinian camps in Syria not only fell, but did so, regrettably, without all that much resistance, to the point at which we see them now—dominated by largely foreign jihadists who continue to impose their unwanted extremist religious beliefs on a largely progressive secular Palestinian community? It is a subject currently much discussed here.

This observer has deduced from a number of conversations—with former and current camp residents, as well as members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Palestinian NGO’s, and also with academics—that there is a ‘model of occupation’ metastasizing in Syria in a manner strikingly similar to what we saw six years ago at Nahr al Bared Palestinian camp near Tripoli Lebanon. The stories we hear today are quite similar to those from among the nearly 30,000 refugees at Nahr al Bared who were forced to flee to the nearby Badawi camp or to Lebanon’s ten other camps—reports related to this observer in visits to Nahr al Bared in May of 2007.

What we hear today in Syria bears an almost uncanny likeness. For instance one lady, whose family is from Safad in occupied Palestine explained: “First they (the intruders) appeared only a few in number. We noticed them and that some had ‘foreign’ accents and wore conservative clothes, most had beards. They were polite and friendly. Then more arrived, a few followed by women and children. They stayed to themselves at first and they began using the local mosque—even being welcomed at first by local sheiks who sometimes expressed admiration for the sincerity and devoutness. Then some of them began to preach their versions of the Koran, and at some point their gentle teaching became more strident, and soon these men were commenting on how some of the Palestinian women dressed in an un-Islamic fashion and even lectured young women about modesty and that they must change their ways, including stop smoking, and to leave public meetings if they were the only women present, and wear a full hijab.”

The lady’s sister interrupted: “Then guns appeared and some of the men appeared to be very skilled when they would use, for example, a school or playground to train. They were so serious and seemed to be in a trance of some kind. There was no possibility to talk or reason with them. All they seemed to want was martyrdom! Some actually believe that Syria was Palestine and they were here to liberate Al Quds!”

Upon some in the camps it began to dawn that the newcomers intended imposing their ideas, and that they fully intended that camp residents should submit to “pure Islam,” as they view it. Some resistance began to jell from camp residents, but the camp popular committees did not have the power to confront them, and a few actually joined them. The fighting with Syrian government troops accelerated the takeover process, and soon the camp residents were presented with a demand: join the gunmen and “liberate” the camps.

With respect to Ahmad Jibril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command—and no offense meant to them and their officials, with whom this observer met in July and early August—but several of their best Palestinian patriot commanders jumped ship in protest against the plan to “liberate” Yarmouk. At the same time many of the PFLP-GC rank-and-file fighters split and joined the opposition for various reasons, including better pay and wanting to be on the presumed winning side. That being said, however, camp residents overwhelmingly rejected the PFLP-GC “defense” project, and insisted that their camp was neutral, that it was to be maintained as a safe zone for its residents, who were guests in Syria pending their return to still-occupied Palestine.

Again, this chain of events is singularly similar to what we saw (too late as it turned out) in Lebanon’s Nahr al Bared, a process which, like the one unfolding now in Syria, was accelerated by the civil war raging here.

There is fear that the Syrian army will sooner or later attack and destroy the camps in order to confront the rebel militias—similar to what the Lebanese army did during the 75 days of shelling in 2007. At that time it took vengeance on the camp and demolished it in an unjustifiable frenzy of shelling for the criminal attack and killing of some Lebanese troops, an attack that had been carried out by camp invaders, not Palestinians. For Palestinians in Syria, it is the all too familiar fate of outsiders entering and seeking to control their camps, coupled with the threat of a host army attacking them to confront the invaders. The residents are once more killed or forced to flee and their homes are destroyed.

Here once more comes to mind the cliché: “Where is the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Council, the EU or the UN? Where’s Waldo?

In order to gain control of the camps in Syria, two main processes appear to be made use of by the al Qaeda affiliates. One is what this observer labels the ‘Nahr al Bared model”. A Popular Committee member from Yarmouk, who just barely escaped the camp before his home was destroyed by a direct hit mortar round, put it this way:

“Some come bearing gifts. They usually set up small problem solving centers. Maybe a little cash, offers of medical aid, bread distribution, pledges of camp security, these sorts of currently absent social services.”

But the camps quickly become petri dishes, and the explosive growth of the foreign implantations is sometimes dazzling. By the time government supporters report the camp invaders it’s too late. And what can the government do anyhow? Guns appear everywhere, and suddenly it’s no longer ‘nicely nicely’ polite treatment from the Islamic brothers. Residents are told they must help liberate the camp from the Assad regime or face the wrath of Allah. Consequently, fleeing for one’s life becomes an utmost urgency, often literally as the snipers arrive and intense fighting, and rooftop targeting, ensues.

Dodging the snipers

So what happens next to the Palestinian camps in Syria? Is a hopeful, positive or peaceful resolution possible? This observer’s 2-cents worth of analysis suggests that the answer is no. The camps will stay largely under the domination, militarily and socially, of the jihadist elements that continue building fortifications and ‘digging in.’ What is happening is a God-awful calamity, one being foisted upon those whose only prayers and wishes are to leave Syria and return home to reclaim their stolen lands.

A central question is the precarious situation in Yarmouk and the fate of the 18-20 percent of its population still remaining. These are people risking their lives daily trying to avoid snipers from both sides. One can hear speculation on the prospects that the Syrian Army, aided by Hezbollah, will move on Yarmouk to try and expel the rebel militia. Some PLO officials with offices inside the Yarmouk neighborhood claim that Ahmad Jibril’s PFLP-GC is being beefed up and armed by the government with more than just AK47’s and RPG’s. Last winter, some of Jibril’s forces were expelled when they tried to eject the foreign militia, while others, as mentioned above, went over to the opposite side. At the same time, three PFLP-GC commanders quit over tactics while questioning Jibril’s decision to violate the camp’s neutrality, a decision leading to the destruction of parts of Yarmouk.

As to speculation on the possibility of the Syrian government and/or Hezbollah moving to eject the foreign forces from Yarmouk, this observer does not give the reports much credit. The Syrian Army has more urgent and prioritized battles being waged today, with others being planned. Hezbollah, likewise, is facing challenges at present, and fighting in Yarmouk against unknown numbers of rebel militia would surely add to them. Moreover, any force invading a Palestinian camp faces being roundly condemned over violations of the Cairo agreement forbidding host governments from entering UNRWA refugee camps.

This observer and contacts in the Palestinian community cannot verify the recent report for a foreign media source that al Nusra has fled Yarmouk and is on the run. On the run from whom? Currently they are not being seriously challenged. On the contrary, the al-Qeada affiliates are busy digging more tunnels under the camps to store weapons and move freely. Their ranks are growing not dwindling.

Grim as it sounds, they who reside in Syria’s camps, along with the 12 million Palestinian refugees worldwide, will continue to be at the mercy of events they had no part in creating. It is a fate they share at this moment with much of the rest of Syria’s population, and things are not likely to improve in the immediate term.

But on a more positive note, the Palestinians of Syria persist in their resistance and opposition to the illegal occupation of their country.

Theirs is a determination to return to their homeland that simply will not fade or wither, and speaking with Palestinian refugees these past several days in Damascus and Homs has convinced this observer more than ever that on this they will not retreat a single inch—and that in time they will liberate their country.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and Lebanon and can be reached c/o

Palestinians Refugees Hope For Cease-fire in Syrian Camp

Ziad Haidar

Palestinian sources from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus said it may take up to a week before the ongoing negotiations between the Palestinian factions and the armed groups that occupy a large part of the camp lead to any results. Meanwhile, there were reports that Dr. Iyad Shihabi, a member of the Civil National Palestinian Authority, was kidnapped and that a Hamas official named Essam Khazaee was killed.

The statement of Muhammad Younis, the foreign-relations official in Fatah, came a day after the alliance of Palestinian factions in Damascus announced the need for “political escalation” in order to implement the camp agreement. The alliance called on Hamas — given the movement’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood and its impact on the Syrian National Council and the National Coalition — not to spare any effort in this regard and asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to establish contact with countries that “have an impact on these groups.”

Younis told As-Safir that the fundamental problem lies in the “absence of one party leading the armed groups in the camp,” knowing that the Civil National Palestinian Authority and the factions are calling for the implementation of the agreement reached in their negotiations with the military council.

Palestinian sources announced more than once in the past two days that an agreement had been reached. According to the agreement, “The Syrian army won’t target or storm the Yarmouk refugee camp, and the Free Syrian Army battalions will withdraw from the camp and remove the earth mounds on 30th and Loubieh Streets in the Yarmouk refugee camp, among others, and the siege on the Yarmouk refugee camp will be lifted” in order for the displaced to start returning to the camp the very next day.

But none of these clauses were implemented, and the “civil” attempt to enforce the agreement by moral force also ended in failure. Meanwhile, efforts were made last Monday [Jan. 7] ​​to gather a number of volunteers in front of the camp to prepare to enter it in spite of the circumstances. This attempt, in turn, was doomed to failure. Many civilians were killed by mortar shells that fell in the middle of the camp as fighting continued sporadically throughout the day and night.

During a press conference in Damascus yesterday [Jan. 9], representatives of the Palestinian factions close to the Syrian regime demanded the “demilitarization” of the Yarmouk refugee camp and called on the leaders of the PLO and Hamas to establish contact with Arab, regional and international countries so that refugees who fled the camp due to violence could return.

According to Younis, the official Syrian side is cooperating to facilitate the implementation of the agreement, but the other side is raising “unachievable demands,” as he put it. These include the evacuation from the camp of any aspect of the Syrian state presence. Younis said the camp “is an administrative part of Damascus and the administrative and official bodies are indispensable there,” and added that the main objective is for “the camp to return to its residents and vice versa.”

Meanwhile, activists posted on their Facebook pages that the head of the Hamas media office, Essam Khazaee, was killed in the camp under unknown circumstances. Khazaee is the second official in the movement to be announced dead within a few days in the ongoing Syrian conflict despite, the movement having announced that all of its officials had left Syria. The same sources pointed out that human rights activist Iyad Shihabi was kidnapped in the area controlled by the gunmen. Shihabi is a member of the Civil National Palestinian Authority, which is responsible for relief and negotiations activities in the camp.

This article was first published in Arabic on 10/1/2013. Read original article.

The English content was translated
Al-Monitor. All rights reserved.

Mossad agents in the Al-Qaeda unit that attacked the Yarmouk camp

2 January 2013

The battle that raged starting December 9 in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp (south of Damascus) has revealed new alliances.

The strategic objective was to involve Palestinians in the war in Syria, mobilizing them on a sectarian basis (they are mostly Sunni) against the secular regime. But the refugees did not allow themselves to be manipulated, no more than in Lebanon in 2007, when the mercenaries of Fatah al-Islam tried to mobilize the Palestinians of Nahr el-Bared against Hezbollah.

Elements of Hamas loyal to Meshaal allowed fighters of the Al-Nousra Front (Levantine branch of Al-Qaeda) to enter the camp where they mainly clashed with men of the PFLP (nationalists and Marxists).

It now appears that the al-Qaeda fighters were not only made up of Muslim extremists, but also included Israeli Mossad agents. They had specific plans to corner the leaders of other Palestinian factions and eliminate them. Not finding them, they allowed the other members of Al-Qaida to systematically loot the empty apartments of these leaders.

After a week of heavy fighting, elements of al-Qaida, Mossad-included, retreated and the camp was declared a “neutral zone.” Of the 180 000 inhabitants, about 120,000 had fled the camp at the request of the Syrian authorities and were relocated by them to Damascus. Most are now back home.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Is Yarmouk Headed for the Same Fate as Nahr al Bared?


Franklin Lamb

Report from Yarmouk Camp, Damascus


Some Palestinians here in Damascus, from the Palestinian writers union with whom this observer has been meeting, including independent researcher Hamad Said Al-Mawed, are saying so.

Admittedly there are some similarities between the two camps fate. Both among the ‘better’ of the 57 Palestinian refugee camps in the hosting countries, of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza

Both, one in Lebanon, the other in Syria, were penetrated by salafist-jihadists from other countries. 

Jihadists from nine countries made incursions into Nahr al Bared in early 2007, near Tripoli, Lebanon.

Yarmouk clashesAs many as 29 country’s salafists entered Yarmouk in Damascus, some discretely, over the past several months and a massive attack starting on 12/16/12.

Both groups of outsiders were given weapons and largely funded by Gulf countries, primarily US ally Saudi Arabia, and both projects were acquiesced in by the American and Israeli governments who saw useful “creative chaos” to borrow a phrase from Madeline Albright.

Both camps were quickly surrounded by government forces awaiting orders to expel or kill the infiltrators. Both camps were subject to aerial bombing. Today, many inhabitants of both camps harbor suspicions that hegemonic interests seek to destroy and empty their camp in order to force the removal of the maximum number of refugees from the Levant, part of a project to undermine the Palestinians’ inalienable Right of Return to their homes in Palestine.

Over the past ten weeks of intermittent shelling of the camp, more than 40 residents have been killed and each of the Yarmouk’s 28 schools, six hospitals and 15 mosques have been damaged. The Palestine Red Crescent Society has lost ten ambulances from various rockets and RPG’s.
The morning of 12/21/12 saw general calm in Yarmouk, following intense clashes, widespread destruction in some areas and two bombs dropped over the past week. Several hundred Palestinians, from among the more than 100,000 who fled this week risked their lives yesterday by crossing through Syrian army lines during last night to return to what was left of their homes, rather than remain on the cold, wet, windy streets, parking lots and parks. More are returning today.

Palestinians in YarmoukIrrespective of what one might think of the role of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-GC (PFLP-GC) in igniting the fighting at Yarmouk, and the role of its leader, Ahmed Jebril, one of the founders of the Palestinian “ rejectionist front” so vilified by Philip Habib in the early 1980’s, both have been working around the clock since last Sundays invasion to save the camp and restore calm and security.

This observer, while meeting with General Command politburo member, Anwar Raja, felt guilty taking the fellows time because his phones rang nearly nonstop as he tried to solve camp residents problems as best he could, shouting orders to some of the gunmen in his office and others on the phone, cursing some of his men who took what he claims is Gulf money bribes to go home or to switch sides.. All the while conferring with Jebril, Syrian officials, other Palestinian groups, and even some Al Nusra and other salafist groups trying to do a deal to save the camp.

Despite efforts of the General Command, Jebril and the organization is persona non grata in Yarmouk and it’s unclear if the PFLP-GC will be able to return anytime soon. Last Wednesday’s meeting at the Palestine Embassy blacklisted Jebril and his group. Feeling inside Yarmouk is very strong against him yet interviewing some officials of “al Islamiya” and others, it is not clear to this observer what his crimes were. It is true that Jebril hired a few hundred Palestinians in Yarmouk at $ 150 dollars per week and formed “popular security committees” ostensibly to keep order and “neutrality” in the camp and it is also true that a number of them are accused of using and dealing drugs and run a bit rough shod if challenged, but it is not proved that the GC committed murders in the camp or engaged in burglaries and other serious criminal acts. In any case the “popular committees” that Jebril had set up have by now collapsed and dispersed.

Palestinian refugees returning to the camp have lost some of their fear and are angry to find some armed “outsiders” still inside. Remaining al Nusra elements–and there does not appear to be many nor do they appear to be any longer threatening the residents are scowled at as they smoke nargileh water pipes in the alleys and try to joke with kids and returning camp residents.

A few of the al Qaeda types even wanted their picture taken with a visiting American, apparently never having actually met one but who they assumed would be hostile or look like Satan. During cups of tea, one joked that this observer should not worry because they will not kidnap him for ransom. I assured them that if they did my government would not pay one American penny for my release, despite the fact that I consider myself a patriot in the mold of Stephen Decatur:

“My country right or wrong but when right to be kept right and when wrong to be put right.”

They laughed when I added:

“come to think of it my government might just pay you fellows a ransom to keep me!”

Nahr el BaredReports of an openly sectarian conflict inside Yarmouk do not appear accurate. What one consistently hears from residents is that they want to stay out of the conflict and not take sides.

They are acutely aware that various elements want to drag them into the Syrian civil war.

 There is a wide-spread perception that the past several months of violence against Yarmouk are messages not to support either the rebels or the government or Yarmouk could end up like Nahr al Bared camp in North Lebanon.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and can be reached c/o

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

‘Who is inciting young Lebanese men & sending them on the road to perdition, aka, ‘Jihad in Syria’?


[AsSafir] “… To find the missing links, one has to first find answers to a lot of questions. Chief among these are the following: What group do these young men belong to? And what is its nature? Who encouraged them to do such a thing? Who was responsible for coordinating them? Who sent them? Who met them at the border? Why did they fall victim to the ambush? Is it because of their lack of military experience or due to their lack of knowledge of the geography of the region? Where they betrayed or did they fall victim to the work of an intelligence or security apparatus?

The way fighters left to seek “jihad” in Syria is very similar to what happened in early 2000 — despite differences in destination, purpose and political conditions — when a large number of Islamist “jihadists” from Tripoli traveled to Jrood al-Dinniyeh for weapons training, etc. This was followed by military confrontations between them and the Lebanese army. At the time, the Lebanese army managed to eliminate them and detain those who survived in the town of Kfar Habou. This is now known as the Dinniyeh events.

This is also similar to when Islamic jihadist elements from the Fatah al-Islam organization were grouped in apartments in Tripoli in preparation for a security operation that was being prepared for the city in 2007. Back then, the army and the security forces carried out a raid on al-Miatayn street and the al-Zahrieh district, thus eliminating them. subsequently, the army and security forces devoted themselves to dismantling the structure of this organization in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in “the 106-Day War.”…”

Palestinian Camps in Lebanon: The Displaced Guests of a Refugee Host

Palestinian siblings Israa, Alaa and Omar (R) Diab play together in the Rashidiyeh Palestinian refugee camp in the southern Lebanese city of Tyre on 6 August 2012, after their family, one of 40, fled the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in neighboring Syria. (Photo: AFP – Mahmoud Zayyat)
Published Monday, August 13, 2012
We are now nearing the end of the month of Ramadan. The faces of the residents of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp cannot belie their weariness.
Their lips, dry throughout the days, cannot hope for more than water to quench their thirst, and their evenings lack the usual sumptuous meals of Ramadan. The market in Nahr al-Bared has not returned to normal activity, and the residents’ intermittent businesses and professions are not sufficient to cover the costs of an iftar meal.

Faces have become even gloomier with the influx of the newly displaced individuals from Syria, from the Yarmouk refugee camp and elsewhere. The repercussions of the Syrian crisis, from its humanitarian and political dimensions and security-related implications, to the issue of Syrian refugees, are weighing heavily on Lebanon.

North Lebanon has been the most strongly affected. Banners of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are ubiquitous and solidarity with the dispossessed Syrians goes beyond humanitarian considerations, while the political-confessional environment is further reinforced by the flow of Syrian refugees.
Al-Akhbar made enquiries about the fifty families who were displaced from Syria to Nahr al-Bared camp. But some people seemed hesitant to talk, not wanting to turn the families that fled Syria to stay with their relatives into yet another issue, or to deepen the rift between the camp and its surroundings over positions vis-à-vis the Syrian regime.
It was merely said that “some families had fled Syria as a result of rumors that the Palestinians might come under attack there.” A visit to the home of “the teacher,” Ahmad Najib, a former tutor who worked for UNRWA, was recommended. Najib’s house now shelters more than one family.
Another local, Abu Wassim al-Gharib, advised we check with the Popular Committee (PC) instead of meeting with the displaced families, saying that “the committee has all the information and it is better to ask their opinion.”
We thus spoke to the PC official at Nahr al-Bared camp, Hajj Abu Salim Ghoneim, who tried to stress that the committee is playing a key role in the refugee issue. He said that the committee’s priority is to keep the camp away from becoming entangled in political or security issues, without saying anything about whether or not the PC can provide meaningful assistance.
Ghoneim tried to list the committee’s achievements. He spoke about “registering the refugees in a database” and contacting the General Security (DGSG) in the North to clarify their legal status, while praising the DGSG’s facilitation and discounts in relation to the refugees’ visa fees. The PC official also mentioned contacting military intelligence to ask them “to allow them [the refugees] to enter the camp and show leniency to those who have been in the camp for more than a week but have not renewed their permits.”

As for promises, Ghoneim said that since the “UNRWA’s approval to cover 100 percent of treatment [costs] for patients, we are making efforts to secure accommodation for the displaced through UNRWA leases, or using schools to provide them with shelter.” Regarding international organizations and NGOs, Ghoneim said, “We have received promises that furniture and clothing will be provided.”
Ahmad Najib, meanwhile, was out for noon prayer. He did not want us to meet his guests, but he compensated for this by agreeing to stay in the mosque for the rest of the afternoon to talk to us about the refugees’ conditions.
Najib accommodated three families in the home of his son who had immigrated; there are no homes for rent in the camp. The former tutor explained the refugees’ unwillingness to meet with journalists by saying that they “will return to Syria” and that “some have already returned.” So, according to Najib, the Palestinians are afraid of being scapegoated, not by the regime, but because of the chaos and lax security. He also said that the situation is stabilizing once again in the Yarmouk camp, and that the Palestinian camps in Syria are now safe.
His succinct explanation of the exodus of Palestinians then gave way to a lengthy digression on Palestinian presence in Syria. There, he says, Palestinians “have rights,” and that all they lack are some key posts in the state, which is something that Palestinians do not have in any Arab country. Initially Najib did not want to expound on the stance taken by the Palestinians relative to the events in Syria, preferring to say that “Palestinians are outside of the intra-Syrian conflict.”
But Najib quickly adds, “We are not against the regime. If the regime falls, Palestinian presence [in Syria] will be affected, and the treatment [of Palestinians] will change.” To corroborate this, he cites the stance apparently taken by one of the leaders of the opposition, “maybe Burhan Ghalyoun,” who said that “the Palestinians have been given tens of thousands of jobs at the expense of the Syrians.”
In Beddawi camp, things are different. Shortly after iftar the camp is full of activity. There is a street carnival that spreads out from the main street into the alleyways and backstreets. Economic conditions here, despite being modest, seem to allow a certain level of festivity in the Ramadan evenings. The streets are packed with cars and motorcycles carrying two or three teenagers each, while women, in the small spaces in front of their homes in the narrow alleyways, can be seen sipping coffee. There are kids playing with fireworks, and the noise coming from the small generators does not muffle the sense of joy and expectation for the approaching Eid.
The optimistic faces allow you to ask anything, and even those who do not have answers soon guide you to another source. So without much trouble, we reached a displaced family from al-Tadamon neighborhood in Damascus close to the camp of Yarmouk.
The head of the family had left her husband behind. The husband is still working in Syria, whenever possible, and is in contact with his wife by phone. Fatima (not her real name) is a mother of three. She said, “I fled death. Chaos is frightening, the gangs would do anything, and even women were being kidnapped for ransom. Everything was fine until the school year ended, when the bombing of al-Azaz neighborhood happened.” She added that a bomb damaged the school in the camp so parents hurriedly moved to evacuate their children.

The mother then added that the incidents that took place in some neighborhoods in Damascus prompted some Syrians to take refuge in the Yarmouk refugee camp. She said, “This is when the problems started. We did not know what was happening, who was killing whom, and this is why we came to Lebanon, because we were very frightened.”

Fatima, through her phone conversations with her husband, has come to the conclusion that things are calming down in Syria. She is in a hurry to go back, because the relatives she is staying with are impoverished. Her two boys are sleeping on her brother’s bed, after he went to stay at his uncle’s house. Fatima and her daughter are sleeping on the floor, since “it is summer and the floor is cool,” and there is only one fan in the house.

Fatima says, “I want to go home when things quiet down; the humiliation here is too much. The refugee relief organizations are more talk than action,” she adds. Fatima had gone to the White Hands Society in Akkar where she found that “there is no order whatsoever. People there are pacing up and down, and some are saying that they miss the days of Bashar [al-Assad].”
Fatima said that only al-Bashaer Society in Abu Samra gave her something in the end, which was a food aid package, after she paid LL 30,000 in travelling to the offices of all the various NGOs.

In contrast to all the attention being given by many local, Arab and international organizations to the issue of the Syrian refugees, the people of Nahr al-Bared camp are asking about the reason for the neglect shown by UNRWA and other relevant bodies towards their suffering. A resident who lives in a shanty-hut was furious about the fact that garbage has not been collected, despite the fact that those concerned in the sanitation department had been contacted.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Najib asks about why UNRWA is requiring the people concerned to come personally to receive their food aid packs, which was not required in previous years. Najib adds, “Why are people being humiliated?” he asks this question after having counted 36 people in a small room, all waiting to receive their food aid packages.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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Lebanon on the Edge of Exploding, al-Qaida Affiliated in Refugee Camps Frontlines, Separate Incidents

Hilda al-Maadarani

“We are witnessing a small revolution or small chaos.” That’s how one of Lebanon’s high-ranking security officials described what has been occurring in the country for some time now; including cutting roads for many reasons, kidnappings, protests, and separate clashes that occur every once in a while.

However, what keeps this security official’s mind busy is the political arena’s negligence that these security incidents might become a major explosive that would topple the Lebanese situation, and lead the country to destructive chaos.

It’s worth referring to the complexity and overlap between the aforementioned incidents, the governmental crisis, the deteriorating economic situation, and the explosive Syrian situation from which sparks of sectarian wars are igniting.

According to a source circulating the high-ranking security official, the latter fears foreign projects would be created on the social and sectarian rupture in which the inside of Lebanon is blundering. He also expressed fear that the situation of the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria would affect the Lebanese refugee camps; as the Syrian camps have interacted with the internal conflict in Syria after demonstrating a sectarian character.

The source noted that “in Naher al-Bared, there is an attempt to exclude the Lebanese Army from the area which, for some Lebanese and Palestinian gangs, represents today an arms smuggling zone into Syria via the sea; i.e. there is a coastal exit for Naher al-Bared refugee camp in which a small port is exploited for arms smuggling via boats to Syria.”

“It seems that these gangs almost got away with it without the Army’s notice, as it conducted armed clashes under the pretexts of social causes, easing the siege and removing security measures. However; the major goal was to drive away the Army’s attention on the arms smuggling from this coastal port,” the source added.

Also, the source went on to say that there is leniency displayed by the Lebanese Army in tackling social and humanitarian causes, yet when the situation went far to include arms smugglings and the security situation, the Army interfered and the armed clashed occurred.

“In addition to that, the arms smuggling operations and bringing it [arms] from Libya to Lebanon is ongoing in many forms. The weapons are smuggled in forms of disjoint pieces of junk that are rejoined and manufactured in Lebanon by some fundamentalist experts. Moreover, some Salafist groups in Lebanon possess SAM 7 and Strela Rockets,” he further clarified.

On this level, the source described this issue as “the first of its kind [dangerous situation], as these Salafist groups can also threaten the safety of the air navigation, and it [the weapons] could be exploited against civilian airplanes.”

In this context, the source indicated that “the Vatican Pope [Benedict] might postpone his visit to Lebanon due to this issue, and due to what is circulated of some al-Qaida cells in Lebanon,” further stating that “meetings [of that kind] were convened in Ein el-Helweh [refugee camp] and other places.”
As the source confirmed the presence of al-Qaida affiliation cells in Lebanon, he elaborated that they are “small secret cells yet they exist, and its entering and departing movement is impossible to be monitored, because they are secret elements and have sanctuaries. They sometime hide at the al-Ansar faction’s, or in the Tawarei neighborhood [in Ein el-Helweh] and some other neighborhoods where it finds protection, [although] it does not need a lot of protection.”

He stated, “This does not mean that other al-Qaida groups are not present in many areas, among which are Lebanese groups that affiliate members like Abdul Ghani Jawhar, in addition to the groups that cooperated with Fateh al-Islam.”

Moreover, the same source added that the French intelligence supplied the Lebanese General Security and the Lebanese Security Authorities with information on 12 Lebanese personnel in Afghanistan, expressing fears that they had returned to Lebanon after they finished their training there.

Furthermore, the source revealed a letter delivered by the al-Qaida leadership in [Pakistan] to Lebanon three months ago. This letter was delivered by Samir Kango, who is currently held in the Lebanese Army custody. This letter stated appointing someone called Nabil al-Bustani to head the northern principality; i.e. Tripoli and Homs. Al-Bustani is currently hiding in Akkar, for al-Qaida exists and so do its secret networks, yet its strategy does not include controlling geographical areas in Lebanon as much as having Lebanon represent a passageway, depot, training and expertise exchanging center, and a center to support the revolution in Syria at this stage.”

As for the new strategy to be adopted by al-Qaida to intimidate its enemies in Lebanon, the source indicated that al-Qaida is exploiting human grenades instead of booby-trapped cars.
He further explained that

“some doctors working with al-Qaida in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan, are conducting operations to install bombs inside the bodies of suicide bombers; who bomb themselves against specific targets, and therefore become human grenades.”

This strategy was discussed by Osama Bin Laden, and was written by Abdul Bari Atwan in his book about al-Qaida. Also, Ayman al-Thawahiri mentioned the importance of human grenades in the al-Qaida’s strategy to intimidate its enemy and destabilize its foes.

Source: al-Intiqad, Translated by

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Nahr al-Bared: People Taking Charge

During a sit-in to support Nahr al-Bared residents, in Beirut 29 June 2012. Placard reads “You need a permit to enter your home?” (Photo: Haitham Moussawi)
Published Wednesday, July 11, 2012
A new independent leadership is rising in the Palestinian refugee camps of northern Lebanon after the traditional leadership of political factions and popular committees failed to fulfill the demands of the camps’ residents.
The open-ended sit-in by the residents of Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp – which was destroyed in the summer of 2007 – has continued since June 15.
There are two adjacent tents in the middle of the road with a large panel in between. On it, there is a picture of the Dome of the Rock, the Palestinian flag, and the phrase “the martyrs of Nahr al-Bared camp” under the profiles of the two martyrs, Ahmad Qasem and Fouad Loubani.
In the background, you can see buildings under construction, and between the buildings, people and cars moving as residents make their way out of the ruins of the destroyed camp.
Next to the two tents, there is a table and a bunch of chairs. Above them is a giant awning covering an area of more than 200 square meters open to the entire camp. This area appears to be the decision-making center of Nahr al-Bared camp since the beginning of the sit-in.
“Before June 15 is not like after June 15.” This phrase has become like a chorus repeated by the camp’s residents, young and old.

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Letter From a Camp Resident: The Reality of Nahr al-Bared

Graffiti that reads in Arabic “Smile, we returned to you Nahr al-Bared” is seen as construction labourers renovate a building in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared on the outskirts of the Lebanese northern city of Tripoli on 30 May 2011. (Photo: AFP – Joseph Eid)
Published Saturday, June 23, 2012
Considering the misinformation and blackout in much of the media, and since the events were presented solely from the perspective of the main perpetrator in the crime of killing the innocent in Palestinian camps recently, I would like to state the following facts for those who are searching for the truth about what happened, and what is still happening, in the Nahr al-Bared Camp:

1. There have not been weapons in the Nahr al-Bared Camp since 2007, and it has been under military siege since then. The siege is so intense that no one can enter the camp – or leave it – except through the Lebanese Army. All the talk of confrontations proving the presence of weapons used by the Palestinians against the Army are lies, defamations designed to plant hatred in the hearts of our Lebanese brothers.

2. No Palestinian is allowed to enter the camp, even if he or she lives there, without securing permission from the Army. None of their relatives can visit them at the Camp without permission from the Army. This is because the Camp, since 2007, has been a militarized area, so military rules and regulations are applied there. Any Lebanese person, however, can enter the camp by simply presenting their personal identity card, even if they do not live in the Camp or even in Lebanon. Even the old cemetery [in the camp] is under military control, and entering it is only allowed on religious holidays and, even then, only with permission from the Army.

3. The Lebanese Army can only open fire with the permission of a political decision, no matter against whom, as is the case in Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh, even when the Army are under attack. We all saw how the Army stood by watching in Tariq al-Jdideh during the recent events. Yet, the Army needs no such political decision to open fire on Palestinians. The reason is quite simple: the Palestinians have no one defending them, even if only with words.

4. Let no one be convinced that merely throwing stones at the Army or shouting insults at the soldiers can justify their opening fire on a group of youths, the majority of whom were under the age of 20. And for those who do not know, the youth that was killed on June 15 in the Camp was only 16 years of age, and he was killed by a direct shot to the head. (He was just standing on a street corner in the Camp.) He also had wounds to the chest and heart. Another youth also died from similar injuries. And the other youth, who died in Ein al-Hilwe Camp, was not killed by a knife, as reported by LBC, but killed by a shot to the neck from an M16.

Excuse me if I have dragged on, but we are fatigued from years of humiliation and searches and oppression and besiegement in the Camps.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Yousef Mohammed Ali is a Palestinian refugee from Tabaraya, living in Ein al-Hilwe Camp.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect al-Akhbar’s editorial policy.
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Are Palestinians being scapegoated over army killings in Lebanon?

Franklin Lamb

Graphics by Alex
Ahmad Emad Qassim
the man who got killed by Lebanese army bullets.
The killings of three Palestinian refugees this past week including Ahmad Qassim from Nahr al Bared (‘cold river’) camp near Tripoli and 15 year old Khaled al-Youssef from Ein el Hilweh (‘the beautiful eye’) 30 miles south of Beirut in Saida, and the wounding of more than a dozen others by the Lebanese army were not as some Lebanese politicians are claiming “accidental security incidents”. They were avoidable negligent homicides.
It is true that Lebanon’s army, like the country itself, is confessionalized and as it has done before, the army will likely fracture if a civil conflict erupts. It is also undertrained, weak on discipline, and ill equipped. But from this observers experience and learning from friends in the army, the least that can be said on its behalf is that it is no worse and is probably more humane than some others in the region.

Some in the Palestinian community fear that the recent killings of refugees by the army represents a revival of what in the Lebanese army it has often meted out to Palestinians and that it may be intensifying 30 years after the massacre at Sabra-Shatila.

Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are the worst 12 of the 57 UN established camps in the Levant including Jordan, Syria, Gaza and occupied Palestine in terms of problems of poverty ( 65% of Palestinian family living in camps in Lebanon live on less than six dollars a day), health, education, general living conditions, discrimination, isolation, joblessness, shanty housing and a lack of proper elementary and secondary schools, forbidden by law to enroll in state colleges, lack of adequate clinics, hospitals and sewage systems as well essentially no potable water, little fresh air and sunlight in many areas of the camps, rising respiratory diseases, domestic abuse and psychological health issues. Contributing to all of the above is the outlawing of Palestinians enjoying the elementary civil right to work or the own a home.

During a recent visit to the camps, Muhammad Farwana, a member of Hamas’s politburo described the Nahr al-Barid camp in which “around 38,000 people are living in deplorable conditions and unfit for humans.: He added: “I visited Nahr al-Barird and no human being can lead a normal life in it. Not even animals can have a normal life in it.”
Palestinian children No refugees on earth are so targeted and discriminated again as Lebanon’s Palestinians and only some political help and negligible economical assistance sporadically arrives from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Not even the employees at its Embassy of Palestine in Beirut have been paid their salaries for the past two months due significantly to US and EU aid shrinkage aimed at forcing yet more concessions from the PA in favor the Zionist occupiers of their country.
Every camp Palestinian family in Lebanon can recount cases of arbitrary arrests, beatings, false imprisonment and harassment from the army’s Military Intelligence unit, the supposedly disbanded Deuxeime Bureau. This Stasi type organization, supposedly reformed, hunted and terrorized Palestinians following the PLO departure from Beirut in August of 1982. According to long time PLO representative in Lebanon Shafiq al Hout in his book, My Life in the PLO, the Deuxeime Bureau was a major factor in 70,000 departing Lebanon in 1983 via Beirut airport.
The army initially suspected that the motor bike riders it stopped at Nahr al Bared camp had no ID.This was a reasonable assumption because thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have no ID because the country where they were born, Lebanon, refuses to provides them ID thus depriving them of even the few rights given their fellow Palestinian refugees.
Most Palestinians, for example, who arrived in Lebanon after being expelled from Jordan in 1970 never registered with the Lebanese barely functioning bureaucracy and despite a quarter century of promises by politicians here to remedy “the non-ID problem” it’s been just more idle talk with not action being taken.

Once more the non-ID issue has become a deadly and officials promising yesterday to solve the problem. Lebanon’s politicians will likely do nothing unless they see some significant personal benefit. Hence non-ID Palestinians will remain subject to arrest at any time, not able to register their marriages or get ID’s for their children or achieve a score of other civil acts that require a government issued ID.

While a meeting was held between a number of officers including the head of Army Intelligence, Edmond Fadel, with a delegation of Palestinian factions in order to restore calm in the camp there is little confidence that much was achieved except another pledge on behalf of Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji to uncover the details of the crime“through a swift investigation that will determine the perpetrators and prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.” Given past experience, few believe the investigation will be serious or even completed.

Compounding these problems is a number of politicians who lack the political will to provide a simple available solution. Lebanon’s Interior Minister on 6/20/12 told Akbar al-Youm news agency that “the disturbances” (army killing of Palestinian civilians) that occurred lately in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein al-Hilweh were not related to what had happened in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp… What happened in the two Palestinian camps has nothing to do with the security situation in Lebanon. They were just coincidence. The problems inside the camps have been resolved by the Lebanese army.”
File photo of Lebanese soldiersThis gross mischaracterization of what occurred at the camps this past week is inflaming passions even more. Every 9 year old anywhere in Lebanon knows that the “incident” in Ein el Helwe was a direct and predictable result of the army’s killing in Nahr al Bared. What is remarkable is the restraint shown by refugees in the other 10 camps and dozen ‘gatherings’. 
Taking the opposite view from the Interior Minister, the Speaker of Lebanon’s Parliament chimed in with the observation that: “The incidents at the Palestinian camps and the targets against the Lebanese army are not coincidence and not innocent and call for concern. A foreign plot is present but there is an internal participation in it,” he warned, reiterating that the security incidents from the North to the South are not a coincidence.
Lebanon Palestinian Unrest
A soldier under national flag as smoke billows
from burning tires at the entrance of Ain al-Helweh
refugee camp, during the funeral of a Palestinian,
killed in clashes with the army the previous day.

Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn’s declaration on 6/20/12 “that attacking Army posts is dangerous and does not serve the interests of the Palestinian brothers at all” raised a question whether he was even aware what had happened at either camp. At least he rejected the foreign plot thesis designed to undermine Lebanese Army accountability.

What is clear is that local politicians will skew the facts to suit their political instincts and are incapable of analyzing the events objectively and that the killings at Nahr al Bared and Ein el Helwe are not the result of the Syrian chaos. It is perhaps remarkable that the camps have to date not exploded into paroxysms of violence while exercising their legitimate rights to protect themselves against those, including, the Lebanese army, perceived as killing their children and families.
Were Lebanon politicians sincere in their hand wringing claims to be seeking a solution to Army attacks on Palestinians they could make an immediate differences by implementing the following:
— Conduct a full transparent investigation of the army killings of refugees and amnesty for camp residents who have protested the past week unless it is proved that the refugees committed any crime by exercising their right of free speech.
-Take measures to remove army provocations, insults, and harassment of entering and exiting camp residents that are causing distress to the Palestinians in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp and to respect the refugee’s dignity and humanity.
-Pull the army from inside Nahr al Bared, where it acknowledges there are no weapons and withdraw to two kilometers from the entrances to the other five camps it surrounds thus removing the likelihood of bored and or malevolent troops harassing camp residents.
-Withdraw military deployment among the residents of the camp. End the army’s system of permits, which refugees are forced to secure in order to enter and exit their camp authorized originally in 1949 by the United Nations.
-End the practice, such as is the case at NAB camp of sending in Mabarrat personnel with every camp visitor to monitor conversations between the visitors and camp residents.
Immediately order the army to vacate the camps public spaces including Nahr al Bared’s graveyard, the football field, and all residential buildings annexed by and now occupied by the army.
– Release the foreign and domestic aid donated to Nahr al-Bared in order to rebuild the camp, after five years since its needless and vengeful destruction and to stop the media campaigns and fabricated news that are helping in igniting sedition and increasing tension to create“fake instability.”
And perhaps most fundamental and crucial:
Take a few hours during a current Parliamentary session to repeal the racist 2001 law outlawing home ownership for Palestinian refugees and grant immediately grant Palestinian refugees the internationally mandated right to work.
The American government also has a special obligation to remedy this crisis given its work to prevent the refugees return to their country and the Obama administrations R2P notion. The White House should enforce the provisions of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act and cut aid to Lebanon, including its army, until it complies with international law in its treatment of refugees. The US would do well to desist from piling sanctions on Iran and Syria and apply a few to Lebanon until it grants civil rights to its unwanted guests from occupied Palestine.
Unfortunately when US Secretary of State Clinton telephoned Lebanon’s Prime Minister Miqati last week to lobby for Lebanese support against the Bashar Assad government in Syria, she omitted, as always, to insist that Lebanon comply, as a condition of future US aid, with its internationally mandated obligations toward its Palestinian refugees.
Some analysts in Lebanon are asking for how long Palestinian youth will remain with heads bowed in their inherited “step and fetch it” mode, as more provocations, discriminations and crimes target them.
It is the right and responsibility of Palestinian youth in Lebanon to take control of their generation’s destiny and to launch an intifada if Lebanese authorities continue to shirk their moral, religious, national, political, legal and resistance duties.
The ball is in the Lebanese Parliaments court. Time is running out for impunity relative to Lebanon’s refusal to grant elementary civil rights for their sisters and brothers from occupied Palestine.
Franklin LambFranklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon. He is reachable c\o
He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon.

He contribute to Uprooted Palestinians Blog
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Lebanon: The Game of Destabilization Continues

 National Dialogue meeting in Baabda palace on 11 June 2012.
(Photo: Marwan Tahtah)

Published Thursday, June 21, 2012

The security breakdowns witnessed in Lebanon in recent days are seen by state officials as further illustrations of the linkage between the country’s stability and the troubles in Syria. Their premise is that President Bashar Assad’s regime faces a prolonged crisis, and by extension so does Lebanon. It is becoming more complex by the day, as the regime grapples with multiple dilemmas, with no near prospect of it either being overthrown or achieving victory.
The succession of incidents involving the Lebanese Army at the Palestinian refugee camps of Nahr al-Bared, Beddawi and Ein al-Hilwe were the first direct response to the “Baabda Declaration.” These do not directly implicate the Lebanese interlocutors at the National Dialogue roundtable, or make it possible to judge their commitment in practice to this Declaration – or their seriousness about insulating Lebanon from what is happening in Syria, and curbing the incitement of turmoil in the North as a step toward turning the region into an exclusion zone. The Dialogue was convened in the aftermath of the clashes in Tripoli, Akkar and Beirut, and the political wagers that were placed on them, to counter the drive towards anarchy. But events since have shown this to be easier said than done.
The participants in the Dialogue endorsed the option of “neutralization” and separating Lebanese political divisions from the fighting in Syria, and provided the army with broad cover to translate that into practice. Yet the latest incidents show this was not realized. The linkage remains strong. Developments there have repercussions here: both when the violence rises, and when it subsides.
The state officials note that the linkage is also reflected in the nature of much of the debate raging between Lebanese groups. Some have done their best to entrench divisions over the Syrian crisis, whether over Assad’s regime or Hezbollah’s weapons, or by using unrest that has social causes to fuel domestic tensions.
The officials speak of attempts to contrive pretexts to undermine the country’s stability, and cite three main cases.

1 – Turning the army into a party in the current political disputes by making it new enemies with every round of disturbances. First it finds itself confronting the Future Movement in Tripoli, then the Salafi groups in the city and in Akkar, then the Palestinian camps in the North and South. With each successive incident, the army’s authority is undermined as its personnel and checkpoints are attacked, its discipline is criticized, and it is compelled to back down for fear of causing strife. It is prevented from using force against those who cause disturbances, on the grounds that things could get out of hand and the country be plunged into the unknown. The military is routinely told that quelling any disturbances by force could have unforeseen consequences.

The army and security forces have been placed in an unenviable position. The officials say that in some parts of the North, soldiers have been barred from leaving barracks alone when in uniform. They have been told to travel in groups or wear civilian clothing when passing through towns that have become hostile territory for the army, contrary to what the political leaders assert.

Official: Islamists to blame for Lebanon camp unrest2 – Although Palestinians in the refugee camps are outwardly aggrieved by the measures the army takes at the camps’ entrances, and its checks, surveillance and control over movement in and out them, the timing of the expression of these grievances is not innocent. The army has not stepped up these measures nor significantly altered them since they were introduced at Ein al-Hilwe in the early 1990s and Nahr al-Bared after 2007. They were designed to prevent the flight of gunmen or wanted fugitives from the two camps, and to keep an eye on and prevent the supply of weapons to terrorist cells based in them. That remains the army’s purpose.

Yet following the events in Tripoli and Akkar, and their knock-on effects elsewhere in the country, an attempt is apparently underway to extend the confrontation with the army into new areas. After the attacks on its checkpoints at the Palestinian camps in the North and South, it wonders if they, too, are planning to join the intra-Lebanese fray.

Like the Lebanese, the Palestinians in the camps are divided in their attitudes towards Syria and its regime. The camps also have their own equivalents of the hardline Sunni groups which have been making their influence felt in the North. Most of their leaders are fugitives from justice and many of their followers are wanted in connection with terrorist crimes. These groups, the officials add, are now minded to escape siege within the camps and make for the battlefield beyond.

3 – While the blocking of roads with burning of tyres is not overtly connected to events in the North or attitudes towards the Syrian crisis or regime, it is a complementary feature of the security breakdown. Officials were surprised to find that Shia groups have been the most active in blocking roads in areas under their influence, especially the vital arteries in and out of the capital, for various reasons.

They note that orders are given in this regard. A group of people are despatched to bring down tyres and set them alight and close the road, then they are withdrawn and replaced with others to carry on the task. Two days ago, those blocking the airport road made a lucrative business, charging hurried passengers a fee per head for allowing them through the lines of burning barricades.

Thus, under the pretext of the electricity shortage, living conditions, or the abduction of Lebanese in Aleppo, tyres have become weapons with which to spread the chaos. The security forces are compelled to react cautiously to avoid the political and security cost which would be incurred if they were to take on the instigators. They want to avoid an incident that could repeat the killing of Ahmad Abdel-Wahed and his companion in Akkar or the killing of eight people in Mar Mikhael in 2007, and would place the army in the thick of the confrontation.

Nicolas Nassif is a political analyst at Al-Akhbar.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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Lebanon’s March 8 Coalition: A Record of Setbacks and Failures

When the battle of Nahr al-Bared battle erupted, The March 8 forces proposed a solution combining political, security, and legal measures, and declared that the refugee camp must not be harmed. (Photo: Al-Akhbar)
Published Monday, April 16, 2012
If supporters of the March 8 coalition, or of the resistance, were to look back at the years since 2005 and do a political appraisal of the stages which the struggle in Lebanon has gone through, the conclusion might shock them. The record of the political forces that are supposed to embrace the Lebanese resistance has been one of constant setbacks and failures.

On 8 March, 2005, Syria’s supporters gathered as part of a massive rally in downtown Beirut. The aim was to ensure that the departure of the Syrian army would not be humiliating, and to prevent the scoring of political points against the country. But it backfired. The March 8 rally prompted the opposing camp to mount its biggest popular and political mobilization ever. The pro-Syrian Lebanese government was toppled, and the Syrian army left the country to the backdrop of the massed March 14 protesters, rather than banners reading “Thank you Syria.”

After the resignation of Omar Karami’s government on 28 February 2005, Najib Mikati was appointed to head a Cabinet tasked with preparing for elections. It was under the auspices of this interim administration that the international tribunal was first ushered in.

In anticipation of the elections – and to preserve a modicum of national unity – the quadripartite alliance was formed between Hezbollah, Amal and Future Movements, and the Progressive Socialist Party. At the time, the March 14 camp wanted to undermine Michel Aoun, who had returned to the country and made a powerful comeback. He had the capacity to win over the Christian street, and might have been able to assume full control of the March 14 coalition if not checked. So March 14 and March 8 forged electoral alliances, and Aoun won what he could. The summer 2005 elections culminated in the collapse of the quadripartite alliance in favor of the March 14 camp, after it secured a parliamentary majority. Its electoral allies in March 8 did not receive even one word of thanks.

Although the March 14 parties won control of parliament, they were unable to govern, and the country went to the dialogue table. This resulted in the idea of establishing and funding the international tribunal and the idea of putting the resistance’s weapons up for discussion.

Then, in the summer of 2006, came the war on Lebanon. The Lebanese government proclaimed itself a “resistance government,” while simultaneously conspiring against the resistance. It was protected by the cover provided to it by March 8, which was at the same time trying to disempower along with undermine the resistance.

After the war, representatives of the Shia sect withdrew from the government, rendering it unconstitutional. With them outside, the international tribunal was endorsed, albeit without the signature of the president Emile Lahoud.

The March 8 parties responded with an open-ended sit-in at the Grand Serail. The aim was to besiege it but political interventions led to the protest being relocated and confined to a closed area opposite. The then Prime Minister Fouad Siniora did not bat an eyelid, but shifted the burden onto the Lebanese state, moving into the Serail at public expense.

Sectarian tensions were meanwhile on the boil, and sometimes spilled over, as at the Arab University on 25 January 2007, where there were riots and the Lebanese army was fired upon. At that stage the county became utterly split. Life in the southern suburbs was cut off from Beirut, and some districts of the capital became no-go areas for Shia citizens.

In May 2007, the battle of Nahr al-Bared battle erupted. The March 8 forces proposed a solution combining political, security, and legal measures, and declared that the refugee camp must not be harmed. Over the course of the next three months, the camp was systematically destroyed. Much of it was reduced to rubble which were bulldozed after the fighting.

On 7 May 2008, armed conflict broke out after a long build-up. Instead of a pre-emptive, pinpoint, surgical operation, many civilians on both sides lost their lives, due to unanticipated chaotic conditions. The subsequent negotiations in Doha strengthened the political hand of the March 14 parties after their military defeat, and led to the appointment rather than the election of a president. A major blow was dealt to the Taif agreement, the last thing left to regulate the relationship between the Lebanese sects.

It was at that time, too, that the resistance began losing much of the Arab popular support it had gained in the June 2006 war.

Siniora returned to the premiership after a new president was installed, and another process of preparing for elections began. The March 8 parties expected victory from the opinion polls, but experienced defeat on the ground, and March 14 retained the parliamentary majority.

This time, Saad Hariri was made premier. The March 8 parties demanded their share of executive office but when they changed tack and stripped Hariri of the post, they proved incapable of finding an ally to take his place.

March 14 has not been in great shape either. For every gain it has made it has suffered a setback elsewhere. Both coalitions have suffered from internal corrosion. But their inner convulsions coupled with their political dogmatism have left their respective constituencies in an ossified state. No good can come from that.
Fidaa Itani is an Al-Akhbar columnist on Lebanese affairs and Islamist movements.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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Palestinian war refugees housed in ‘containers’

>Contributed By Franklin Lamb

 Palestinian war refugees housed in ‘containers’Palestinian refugees in Lebanon displaced by war more than three years ago live in temporary apartments that residents say are cramped, musty and bug- and rodent-infested. The U.N. relief agency is far short of the funding needed to rebuild. (Heather Murdock/Special to The Washington Times)
By Heather Murdock

The Washington Times

8:31 p.m., Monday, December 6, 2010

NAHR EL-BARED CAMP, Lebanon | The apartments are called “containers” or “barracks” and were built to be temporary housing for Palestinian refugees displaced by war more than three years ago. Some are made of concrete. Others are made of tin.

“We don’t see the sun here,” said Yazmine Khaleel, who has lived with her husband and four children in a one-room barrack since she fled the fighting. “They told me we would have nice temporary houses. It’s only a container.”

Ms. Khaleel is one of 30,000 former residents of the Nahr el-Bared camp who were displaced by battles between Fatahal-Islam militants and the Lebanese army in 2007. She relies on a small cash stipend and packages of food and medicine from the U.N. to survive, but said it’s not nearly enough to keep her children healthy in the musty barracks. According to the United Nations, even this aid could be stopped by the end of the month.

The U.N. says it has raised none of the $18.5 million needed to provide food, medicine and cash to displaced refugees from Nahr el-Bared in 2011. The reconstruction process also could grind to a halt because in the past three years, the agency has raised just 35 percent of the money needed to rebuild.

“We will not be able to know how many years we need to order to complete the project,” said Hoda Samra Souaiby, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which helps Palestinian refugees. “This is very much tied to the availability of funds.”

The agency is $208 million short of the funds needed to rebuild the camp, she said.
If the U.N. is unable to raise the money for emergency aid before the end of the month, 3,400 displaced families that receive $150 a month to help pay their rents will be cut off. “The whole relief operations will have to stop,” Mrs. Souaiby said.

In the barracks, residents say they were told the camp would be rebuilt by now. Most of the camp, however, remains in heaps of gray rubble, riddled with bullets from the 2007 battles that killed 400 people, including Lebanese soldiers, Islamic militants and civilians.

One section of the camp is expected to be ready to house some families early next year, but Ahmed Abueid, a house painter who lives in the barracks with his wife and seven sons, said he has little hope the project will ever be completed.

“We live here like prisoners,” Mr. Abueid said. “This life here is not good.”

Many of the apartments are cramped and leaky. Some are infested with mice and bugs. Mothers complain that their teenage daughters have to share rooms with their brothers, which is considered shameful in their society. There is never enough food or money to go around, they say, and work is scarce.

Palestinian construction workers employed by the companies that are rebuilding the camp say work on the project is frequently stopped when companies run out of money. When they do work, according to foreman Mahmoud Getawi, they are often paid late. When workers demand timely payments, he said, they usually are given the runaround.

“Everyone blames each other,” he said. “The contractors blame UNRWA, the UNRWA blames the [donor] countries. Everyone points the figure at the other one.”

Many of the refugees have no work. The U.N. estimates that 60 percent of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are unemployed or underemployed. Even though several generations of Palestinians are living in Lebanon, they are considered foreigners. Palestinians are banned from working in many professions, including medicine, engineering and law. They cannot buy or inherit property.

In August, the Lebanese parliament enacted a law that allows Palestinians to get special permits to work outside the camps. Since then, no permits have been issued and the employment situation remains unchanged.

Although the law appears to be ineffective, rights groups say it has sparked a national debate on the rights of Palestinians in Lebanon. Late last month, the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign-Lebanon and the Sabra Shatila Foundation, a Palestinian advocacy group, sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI and Lebanon‘s Maronite patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, asking them to encourage parliament to grant Palestinians full work and property rights.

The letter included a petition with 430,000 signatures, including those of prominent activists such as former President Jimmy Carter, former South African President Nelson Mandela and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, according to Foreign Policy magazine.
“Civil rights for Lebanon‘s Palestinian refugees have been denied for too long,” the letter says. “These days are pregnant with potential new tragedies that nobody wishes upon anybody else.”

But some politicians in Lebanon say Palestinians should have access to human rights, but that does not include civil rights.

Fares Souaid, secretary general of the ruling March 14 political coalition, said Palestinians are not given access to Lebanese social security, schools and health care because the refugees prefer to be supported by the United Nations. If Palestinians are incorporated into Lebanese civil society, their claim that they have the right to return to Palestine will lose legitimacy in the eyes of the international community, he said.

Mr. Souaid said parliament members also have rejected calls for civil rights for Palestinians because they fear an upset in the delicate sectarian balance in Lebanese society. In the political sphere, he said, Palestinians have enemies in parliament because they fought in the 16-year civil war that ended in 1991 and left more than 100,000 people dead.

“The Palestinians in Lebanon during the civil war were part of the civil war,” Mr. Souaid said. “The [Palestine Liberation Organization] was supporting part of the Lebanese against another part of the Lebanese. When you speak about the Palestinian problem and the Palestinian refugee presence in Lebanon, there is a kind of hypersensibility.”

Many refugees from Nahr al-Bared say they have spent their entire lives in Lebanon and have no plans to return to a future Palestinian state. Their status as foreigners leaves the society almost entirely dependent on the U.N. for survival. “A doctor should have the right to work as a doctor,” said Mr. Getawi, the construction worker. “An engineer should have the right to work as an engineer.”

Other parents in the barracks, however, say they are too busy trying to provide their children with food and health care to be concerned with politics. Parents say the food aid they get every three months usually lasts for two weeks.

Fares Abdullah, who shares a single room in the barracks with his wife and four children, said three of his children have regular seizures and he cannot work because of a heart condition. The limited medical care offered by the U.N., he said, can do nothing for their illnesses.

“If someone breaks his leg here,” he said, “They give him a Panadol.”

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Rabbit from Perth: .Nahida your words are like a flaming sword and I perceive them to be wielded by an angel.

Rabbit said…

Nahida your words are like a flaming sword and I perceive them to be wielded by an angel.

I am so impressed by how well you have used your gifts and very proud to have called you a friend. I still do, but feel like a suitor to royalty now for you truly belong to a much wider audience. I’d like to see this somehow presented at a possible upcoming debate between the local Jewish community org and the local Friends of Palestine chapter.

10:37 AM, April 24, 2010

Rabbit said…
I must just add, that whilst this will move a few hearts amongst the few Jews it may come into contact with, you don’t need to be told what I think will happen to it. Even a pessimist like me though is certain things are reaching a critical mass and I sense the panic of rats facing imminent drowning amongst the Zionist Jews, although the Zionist Xtians are becoming more rapturous in their gloating arrogance. Both tend to presage an imminent end to the Zionist project.

I despair of the cost to your dear suffering people however.

All the best. Rabbit from Perth.

10:42 AM, April 24, 2010


I fully agree, I can’t say it better. However, Let us look at the full half of the cup. As  Gilad used to say: The Zionist project is shrinking and deemed. Let see beyond the Seperation Racist wall, and the Wall of Shame

From the River to the Sea by Gilad Atzmon

… in fact an agenda that is promoted by Zionists within the US Administration who realise like the late Sharon, that the only chance for the Jewish state to survive the next decade, is to shrink into a little Jewish shtetle (ghetto). …

gilad atzmon – living on borrowed time in a stolen land

it thought to evade the demographic danger by shrinking into an intimate cosy jewish ghetto. nothing worked. it is palestinian persistence in the shape of hamas politics that defines the future of the region.

the pls have managed to push the jew back to the ghetto, and this ghetto will shrink as pls ballistic capability grows. the jewish state is a matter for historians, its future is doomed.” one of the reasons for building the wall was …

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