there will be a demonstration in trablus in a couple of days to protest the fact that michel aoun has halted the reconstruction of the nahr el bared refugee camp. the reconstruction committee of nahr el bared refugee camp has a new blog where they are documenting the situation on the ground. and you can read about it at my new favorite blog, mlokhiya resistance, written by one of the people i love and respect most in this world.
Disturbing news from Lebanon. It seems that in the midst of UNRWA’s financial crisis and the failure of anyone to do anything to help people from Nahr el Bared refugee camp, where at least 20,000 out of the original population of 31,000 are still not allowed to return to their homes–and destroyed homes at that–the Lebanese army is considering pulling a similar operation in nearby Baddawi refugee camp. Many Palestinians from Nahr el Bared are still living in Baddawi, though it’s far less crowded than it was when the siege first began in the summer of 2007. It seems that Lebanon, without clear answers for the recent bombings and fighting in Trablus wants to blame the Palestinians. This phenomenon, unfortunately, has too long a history in Lebanon: blaming Palestinians. This scary news bulletin comes from Al Nahar:
The Lebanese army on Friday was reportedly preparing a “massive operation” against the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Baddawi similar to the offensive launched against Nahr al-Bared last summer. The German news agency DPA, citing a Lebanese security source, said security forces would likely kick off a massive offensive against Badawwi if investigation proved that those responsible for the recent bombing attacks against the Lebanese army had took refuge in the shantytown with the protection of Salafi groups aligned with Fatah al-Islam extremists.
The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser. While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney. (Cheney’s office and the White House declined to comment for this story; the Pentagon did not respond to specific queries but said, “The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran.”)…
The United States has also given clandestine support to the Siniora government, according to the former senior intelligence official and the U.S. government consultant. “We are in a program to enhance the Sunni capability to resist Shiite influence, and we’re spreading the money around as much as we can,” the former senior intelligence official said. The problem was that such money “always gets in more pockets than you think it will,” he said. “In this process, we’re financing a lot of bad guys with some serious potential unintended consequences. We don’t have the ability to determine and get pay vouchers signed by the people we like and avoid the people we don’t like. It’s a very high-risk venture.”
American, European, and Arab officials I spoke to told me that the Siniora government and its allies had allowed some aid to end up in the hands of emerging Sunni radical groups in northern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and around Palestinian refugee camps in the south. These groups, though small, are seen as a buffer to Hezbollah; at the same time, their ideological ties are with Al Qaeda….
Alastair Crooke, who spent nearly thirty years in MI6, the British intelligence service, and now works for Conflicts Forum, a think tank in Beirut, told me, “The Lebanese government is opening space for these people to come in. It could be very dangerous.” Crooke said that one Sunni extremist group, Fatah al-Islam, had splintered from its pro-Syrian parent group, Fatah al-Intifada, in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, in northern Lebanon. Its membership at the time was less than two hundred. “I was told that within twenty-four hours they were being offered weapons and money by people presenting themselves as representatives of the Lebanese government’s interests—presumably to take on Hezbollah,” Crooke said.…
In 2005, according to a report by the U.S.-based International Crisis Group, Saad Hariri, the Sunni majority leader of the Lebanese parliament and the son of the slain former Prime Minister—Saad inherited more than four billion dollars after his father’s assassination—paid forty-eight thousand dollars in bail for four members of an Islamic militant group from Dinniyeh. The men had been arrested while trying to establish an Islamic mini-state in northern Lebanon. The Crisis Group noted that many of the militants “had trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.”
This article was published on March 5, 2007. The war on Nahr el Bared broke out two months later. I have highlighted the key players’ names in bold in the above-quoted paragraphs from Hersh’s article. Notice, especially, Crooke’s comments: who was it who paid Fatah al Islam? Possibly still pays Fatah al Islam? Who let them into the country, much of the time with their weapons? Who let them in and out of Palestinian refugee camps like Ein el Helweh and Nahr el Bared for which one needs a Lebanese army permit to enter? Who let them move from one area of Lebanon to the next with their weapons, through Lebanese army checkpoints? Why is it that Hariri bailed and then paid these militants?
These are questions that must be answered. These are questions that would lead one to try those whose names I emphasized above in the International Criminal Court. These are questions that I’m sure neither Palin nor Biden could answer. But Americans should answer, most notably Cheney, and in a framework of international law. The U.S. is largely complicit, if not responsible for, what happened in Nahr el Bared.
Neither could they answer about the Americans who seem to think that it is okay to invade and bomb Pakistan. Yesterday another American strike in northern Pakistan murdered at least 12 people. At the same time that Biden is mouthing off ridiculous claims of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons as a threat to the state of Israel (of course, Fisk reminds us in the article below that no one ever mentions Israel’s nuclear arsenal–which is more taboo the word Palestinian or Israel’s nuclear weaponry?) the U.S. is busy making a nuclear weapons deal with India. Who is it who is the real threat to the region? Who is selling, making, using weapons of mass destruction and actually murdering innocent civilians every day? The Orwellian nature of this world is mind boggling.
Without U.S. consent, says Ephraim Kam, deputy head of the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies, it is highly unlikely that Israel would carry out an attack. But, he adds, if the U.S. does not give Israel the green light, then they need to offer an alternative.
“Some have mentioned the possibility of a (U.S.-Israel) defence treaty,” he told IPS. “We need a clear-cut statement saying that any nuclear attack on Israel will be considered an attack on the U.S. That America would respond with nuclear weapons against Iran. This would be an important deterrent.”
God help us if that happens. I can only imagine how it would be extended out to other contexts, for instance Israel’s next invasion of Lebanon.
But the U.S. has found new ways to meddle in Palestine. In Gaza they are now actively aiding the Israeli Terrorist Forces in military operations:
US soldiers are aiding Egyptian officials in the search for illegal smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, according to a report published by a major Israeli newspaper on Thursday.
Hebrew daily Yediot Ahronot said Thursday that American soldiers-operating under the guise of civilian contractors-discovered 42 tunnels under Rafah over the past month.
US forces found the tunnels with advanced American technology, reported to be gradiometry, which measures deviations in the Earth’s gravitational forces to detect underground voids, coupled with ground-penetrating radar and seismic techniques. They have also received help from other engineering experts, the paper reported. The tunnels were supposedly used for smuggling arms into the Gaza Strip.
There is an interesting news story on Al Jazeera this morning showing these tunnels and what they are mostly used for: basic household necessities that people in Gaza have no access to be cause of the siege:
Where does all of this meddling begin, you might ask. For the U.S. often with USAID, which is why its history was tied to the CIA. Rania reminds us of its recent removal from Bolivia because Morales has integrity as well as what USAID is up to in Africa and Lebanon. But this interference on the part of USAID and its history of participating in helping to destabilize countries and overthrow governments is why taking money or accepting services from USAID is never a good idea. This is why one news item today is particularly disturbing:
A 50 million US dollar program will see the water and sanitation infrastructure of the West Bank and Gaza expanded, repaired and rehabilitated over five years. The project will be administered by the American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) and funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Yes, there is a serious water problem in Palestine. But this is due to Israel’s consistent theft of Palestinian water sources as well as its complete lack of respect for human health and the environment when it comes to what its illegal settlements do with its water. I posted a link to this piece the other day, but Mitri I. Musleh’s article is worth reposting along with its powerful title: “How do you explain to a Palestinian child he must ration his drinking water so an Israeli can swim?”
How do you explain to a young Palestinian that his father is being kept in Israeli jail because he was born Palestinian? How do you explain to a young Palestinian that his sibling was shot because he or she wanted to look out of the window? How do you explain to a young Palestinian that he has to ration his drinking water so an Israeli youngster can swim? How do you explain to a young Palestinian that all of the countries in the world are against you because you keep saying no to occupation, corruption and imperialism?
These are important questions that must be answered. That get at the root of the problem, if answered. Americans would not rather ask these questions. Nor would they like to know the answers. Because to do so means looking at the root cause of the situation and that would necessitate a real solution like the right of return for all Palestinian refugees under UN Resolution 194. Instead, with the increase of USAID here supposedly coming to help with Palestinian water issues, I expect that there will be more meddling. There is supposed to be an election here in Palestine in January. Wait and see just what USAID’s role will be in that one.