Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Lebanese State Unleashed

The war between Fateh el Islam, the Lebanese Army

FULL SUPPORT AND SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN REFUGEES

By: Bassem Chit

The Devastating attacks in Achrafieh, Verdun and Alley as well as the brutal clashes that are taking place in Nahr El Bared Palestinian refugee camps and inside Tripoli, are the most direct result of Lebanese state policies and the destabilization of the region by US policies

The necessity here to look at the situation and its developments in the context of Lebanese politics, regional politics and imperialism and its super powers is a necessity to understand the laying conditions and the possible outcomes of such events.

The US War on Terror
The US since the attacks of 9/11 decided to launch the “War on Terror”, even some cosmeticians still debate either it was a “War on Terror” as it was more likely a “War of Terror”. This war was the awaiting dream of “George Bush” and the neo-cons, and the 9/11 attack gave them the best excuse to start unleashing hell on the Middle East, the War on Afghanistan, then the War on Iraq, the Israeli July war on Lebanon, the continuing ethnic cleansing in Palestine and now the US is threatening to attack Iran because of its nuclear program, and it is gathering its troops and weapons in the Gulf in one of the biggest military shows in our recent history.

Excuse me here as I fail to see it in any way a fight for democratizing the Middle East or a fight against terror, I see it more like an expansion trend of a great imperialist power supported by the International Agencies and other Great Powers like Europe which most of them are Supporters of US policies or came out to be.

The last win in US supporters in Europe is Nicholas Sarkozy in France who he screams loudly in support of the war in the Middle East.

But the mess that Bush got himself into in Iraq, the last record of dead US soldiers in Iraq is 3,343, and the lost July Israeli war on Lebanon, put the Bush administration in a tight position both locally and internationally. Due to such situation the US is looking for a way out or maybe a total and open war in the Middle East which might shuffle the cards of regional powers and put the US in a winning position.

“Last March, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, reported that American policy in the Middle East had shifted to opposing Iran, Syria, and their Shia allies at any cost, even if it meant backing hardline Sunni jihadists.

And in an interview on CNN International's Your World Today, Seymour Hersh explains that the current violence in Lebanon is the result of an attempt by the Lebanese government to crack down on a militant Sunni group, Fatah al-Islam, that it formerly supported.” (http://www.twf.org/News/Y2007/0522-Lebanon.html)

The Changes in US policies are not yet that clear, but we can see a change related to the development of US politics and their stands on regional issues, for example the US senate agreed to fund the bush war in Iraq with 120 billion dollars and to send an additional 30,000 US troops to Iraq and Bush declares that the battle against the armed gangs in Iraq will be brutal and decisive. (www.aljazeera.net)

Also both the US and Lebanese ambassador “refused to enlist a section related to putting the responsible of the last attacks in Lebanon to court” (www.aljazeera.net)

In addition in response to the recent clashes in North Lebanon, the US has declared to open an air support route for the Lebanese army in its war against Fateh El Islam.

Even though that US policies does not have a direct link with Fateh El Islam, but we can be sure that the US is responsible for preparing the general or the regional environment for the mobility and emergence of such groups in response to the continuing US war in the Middle East. Also the destabilization on the political, economic and social level that the US war created all around the middle east allowed high mobility for these groups and the ability to organize especially with the rising feeling of anger and rage against US policies in these regions, which allowed fundamentalist groups to recruit a lot of members from all around.

Fateh El Islam is no alien to such environment and might seem to be a direct result of such policies, When the organization came to Lebanon they declared to be against the Shia Expansion and their monopoly over the resistance to Israel and the US, and also declared to be against the UNIFIL forces in South Lebanon, and they still till now say that they did not want any confrontation with the Lebanese Army. It seems more that they are inline with March 14th movement in relation to Hizbollah and also inline with US policies in relation to Hizbullah and Iran.

The Regional Context
The Attack on Afghanistan and on Iraq destabilized the balance of power between the different regimes in the Middle East, Syria lost a lot of its weight in regional politics and Iran grew considerable especially due to the degrading situation for the occupation forces in Iraq and also because of the failure of the Israeli war on Lebanon, and also these same events undermine the Syrian presence as it lost its backyard and a main economic and political weight due to its occupation of Lebanon. Iran and Syria worked together as Iran needs an ally in the region especially since all the other regimes in the region are Pro-US. Also the Syrians after they lost their main position as a regional power needed a strong regional ally to support it. The Syrian-Iranian Coalition represents what is called to be the Anti-US regimes in the Middle East. But their policies are not driven from anti-imperialist or an anti-war tendency but rather related to conflicting interests with the US administration.

The rest of Arab regimes in the Middle East are direct allies of US policies, and they now share an equal weight in regional influence, from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etc… these regimes as well as the Syrian regime are no less then direct dictatorships who live by oppressing their own people and cutting the road against any genuine democratic or anti-imperialist movements. The Lebanese state or regime also does not fall far from these regimes, the recent developments after the assassination of Rafic Hariri allowed the rise of a Pro-US and a neo-liberal movement March 14th who is mostly composed of WarLords from the last Lebanese civil war, and who themselves were the main allies of the Syrian regime when it was controlling Lebanon. After the July war in Lebanon, Hizbollah went to the offensive against the government and managed to create a wide opposition front especially with the FPM (Free Patriotic Movement), but the unwillingness of the opposition in continuing the battle against the government led to a bottleneck within the Lebanese political scene, where both the government and the opposition stands with an Iron-Wall position against the other, and with the absence of a left movement in the country, this bottleneck resulted in opening the country for many scenarios and also encouraged the infiltration of many international and regional intelligence services.

Lebanon the Palestinian Situation and the emergence of Fateh El Islam
Lebanese Army troops have been for the past few years tightening the grip around the Palestinian camps driving its population into despair and revenge.

The economic and social conditions of the Palestinians camps might be considered of the worst refugee camps in the world, absence of all state services, education is concentrate in UNRWA schools that lack any proper curriculum or facilities, many camps had to fit in 40 to 50 students per classroom and with two periods, a morning and an afternoon period. The urban conditions of the camps are very poor, with houses built on top of each others, no structural basis, and with a ban imposed by the state disallowing the import of any construction materials inside the camps. Palestinians have no civil rights, they are not allowed to work, not allowed to own and not allowed any social services from the state.

For the past decades the Lebanese State have been generalizing and stereotyping Palestinians in Lebanon as standard criminals and terrorist and in most times the media has merged between the two identities, being Palestinian became an equivalent to being a terrorist or an outlaw.

A Racist State will not create an environment of peace and tolerance but will only create or build for ecology of fear and violence.

These kind of policies have drove the majority of the Palestinian population in Lebanon to the defensive which led the outmost majority of the classical and new Palestinian organizations to stand back from the political scene and not daring into putting a confident step and to demand their civil rights and their even basic human rights from education, work, living services, etc…

These kinds of policies, allowed for the camps to be reduced to be transformed to concentration camps where Palestinians are not allowed to leave the camp and their lives were reduced to the few Km2s they are kept in.

And through the past few years and especially since the assassination of Hariri, the Government has been planning to disarm the Palestinian camps in Lebanon arguing that the state should have a monopoly over violence.

But here the government fails to give any sense or feeling of security for Palestinian refugees especially when they talk about the state’s monopoly over violence as this government and its members as well as the historical ruling class in Lebanon has been known as a historic enemy for the Palestinians.

The state’s history with the Palestinian refugees have been a history of blood and terrorism, from the curfews during the rule of 2nd office or the secret police, and the massacres which were inflicted against the Palestinians in Tal el Zaatar, Sabra and Chatila, and the Seige of the Camps, all these policies were not considered to be acts of terrorism or oppression but in many cases were called episodes of Lebanese liberation. The Lebanese state is formed by it most majority by war criminals and murderers and committed convicts on crimes against humanity.

All these conditions allowed the camps to be an easy hideout for Fundamentalist groups and in many times these groups get a facilitated entry to the camps by the Lebanese state itself, for example Jund El Sham a Lebanese Fundamentalist group who believes in Terrorism as a its main policies were pushed away from the Ta’mir Area in Saida which is a Lebanese area and pushed by the army inside the Ain El Helweh Camp.

As for Fateh El Islam, this group was rejected by all Palestinian camps in Lebanon and the only place they could base themselves into was in Nahr EL Bared camp, and many say that their entry to Nahr el Bared was also facilitated by the Lebanese State.

Also all Palestinian officials in Lebanon said that Fateh El Islam is not the result of the social and political fabric of the Palestinians in Lebanon. Assafir (The Second Largest daily paper in Lebanon www.assafir.com) wrote that Fateh el Islam is mostly composed of non-Palestinians especially Saudis and Lebanese militants.


This shows that Fateh el Islam is more likely to be an implant which was pushed into the camps. In addition the name of Fateh el Islam have been on the news and in the general political discussions for the past six months, the organization had tons of money which allowed them to rent apartments in the Meatein area in Tripoli which is quite a wealthy area where the apartment costs between 60,000 to 100,000 USD (Al Akhbar Newspaper).

To understand the emergence of Fateh El Islam and its ability to organize fast needs local cooperation and local networks, and North of Lebanon is the best place for the establishment and the growth of such a group. North Lebanon with a Sunni majority has been since the 80’s a breeding ground for Islamic Fundamentalism who managed to destroy the Secular, Nationalist and Communist Movements in the North. When Arafat left Tripoli in 1983 after brutal clashes against Fateh El Intifada, the City was taken under the control of the Islamists backed by the Muslim Brotherhood who fled Syria after the Syrian regime’s attack on them and especially in Hamah.

The North is historically neglected by the Lebanese State and the conditions of poverty, unemployment, and bad living conditions, allowed the area to move more and more towards Islamic fundamentalism as a way out of such conditions.

Seven years ago, clashes broke out between the Lebanese army and a group called “Al Takfir wal Al Hijra” in the hills of Dounniyeh, the clashes resulted in casualties from the two sides. And many of the members of such organization were locked into prison to be released later by a general pardon put out inside the House of Parliament to release Geagea from Prison. The pardon included the Islamist detainees because Saed Eddine el Hariri, the son of late PM Rafic el Hariri, in an attempt by him to gather the Sunni votes with him and in a way gather support from the Fundamentalist currents in North Lebanon. The Assasination of his father gave him the best cover to release them and also allowed him to be able to communicate to such groups by the rising sectarian rhetoric propagated by the Future Current and its supporters from the Sunni religious leaders.

In the North Parliamentary elections these groups went out on the streets supporting Hariri, and basically Saed El Dine proclaimed to be the main leader of the Sunni Sect in Lebanon.

The Mufti of Akkar told Al Jazeera two days ago that the Lebanese state was covering on the funding that Fateh el Islam is receiving from the Future Current and more specifically from Saed Eddine el Hariri, in the purpose of a local Sunni agenda against a local Shia agenda. But soon enough the Future Current retreated from supporting these groups and removed the political and religious cover from these groups especially after the last visit of David Welch to Lebanon. Also this information was confirmed by an ex-Future Current Leader in Akkar as well.

The rise of a highly sectarian rhetoric from the side of March 14th has been a common scene in local Lebanese politics, and it was clear from the Arab University clashes in Beirut few months ago, the condemned shooters and snipers were seen on TV with their faces known to everyone, but still these people were either released from detention or have not been taken to justice. Al-Akhbar mentioned a few days later to the events that the gunmen and the shooters belonged to private security companies owned by Hariri.

Also two days ago, Future Current militants or members attacked a writer and a theater actor Mohamad El Awgi and have beaten him and told him that if he reported them to the police the building owner who is also a future current member would kick him and his family out of the building.

In Alley directly after the explosion, Walid Junblat supporters attacked many journalists from Al-Manar TV, NewTV, Al Alam Tv, and 2 Syrian workers, all of this and the police was watching and did not intervene to stop the attacks.

Such general environment of poverty, and violence and the rise of the sectarian rethoric who is mainly the product of the state policies and the sectarian system in Lebanon, which is also supported by all ruling class actors and the religious leaderships are the main causes for the ability for groups like Fateh el Islam to grow and organize.

The tragic scenes we are witnessing today in Lebanon are the bitter fruits of policies pursued by the Lebanese State and the Lebanese ruling class.

Palestinian and Lebanese working classes have one common enemy
Today the Palestinians in Lebanon are the victims of state policies and its racist nature and acts. The State’s brutality in dealing with local situation and its history of violence and crimes against its own people is the direct and the main reason for the deterioration of the situation in Lebanon and is the main responsible for the bloodshed and the massacre that is happening against the Palestinians in Lebanon.

Statesmen, Political Leaders, Ministers and MPs within the Lebanese State are speaking on terrorist outrages, denouncing those responsible as "evil terrorists" with no regard for "the sanctity of human life".

But the sanctity of Human Life does not show or appear when the state decides to ban Palestinian refugees from their basic rights and more often from life itself, it does not show when the army or the police attacks and kills protestors demanding better living conditions like what happened in Hay el Sellom in 27th of May 2004, were the army started shooting live bullets against protesting civilians killing five workers.

The Lebanese State and its composition from Loyalists and Opposition is a brutal enemy to the working class in Lebanon, it is the reason behind massacres against the Lebanese and Palestinian working class. Day by day driving people to poverty and despair by outrageous economic policies hiking taxes like the VAT, the high inflation, High unemployment, high concentration of capital in the hands of fewer bunch of people, the spreading of the suburbs to eat out the majority of the cities, a huge expansion of the working class with a dead trade union movements which were destroyed by the Lebanese ruling class.

Today the attack is against the Palestinian working class, Fateh el Islam is the best laid opportunity for the state to start a massive attack on the Palestinian refugees and in a plan to control and limit their mobility and their own existence.

A screaming statement by one of the Nahr el Bared refugees is a clear statement of what are the Lebanese state policies all about, when asked where he is heading by a news reporter while he was fleeing the Nahr el Bared camp the man paused then a cry came by and said: That can not be, we are Palestinians, we are malice, then throw the chemo, and kill us all, we can not live, we're not allowed, get rid of us for we are heavy load. The man never managed to stop crying, he left home for the first time and now he is leaving his second home again.

Till now about 15,000 left the camp, most of them gathered in Beddawi camp the nearest to Nahr El Bared. The Army is continuing its arbitrary shelling of the camp, reports say that 40% of the camp has been destroyed; many eyewitnesses say that bodies are spread out in the streets of the camps and under the ruins. PM Senioura is calling to a decisive strike against Fateh El Islam and is collecting support for the Lebanese Army, he did not mind to gather any support for the Palestinian refugees, he is not planning to change any of the military tactics that is being used by the army to avoid the killing of civilians. Yesterday he said that the Palestinian political parties should remove the cover from Fateh el Islam in response the State will secure the civilians, it is exactly the same policies that the Israelis used during the July war on Lebanon, it asked the Lebanese to stop supporting Hizbollah and deliver Nasrallah in response it will stop attacking civilians.

The Lebanese army is committing a massacre against the Palestinian refugees by the shelling of the camps, and this definitely will not build any peace nor tolerance nor it will bring the peace of mind for the Palestinians to be able to build trust with the Lebanese state.

And the government and as well as the opposition is not feeling any distress because of their acts and they are both using Palestinians as an excuse to pass their own political agendas, the March 14th are demanding the army to go in inside the camp, also the FPM (Free Patriotic Movement) is attacking the government of intelligence and security breaches and corruption and is also demanding that the army should go inside the camp. Hizbollah is mainly using the issue to attack the government; none of the ruling class parties has put any consideration for the Palestinian refugees. And they are all propagating to gather support for the army in its war against terror, it reminds us all of US policies to gather support for the troops in the war against terror.

When the clashes took place the army was brutally attacked by Fateh El Islam killing many soldiers, the State’s weight and sanctity was breached and now it is being built or won again by killing Palestinians. A racist trend is rising due to State propaganda and due to the Media campaigns in support of the army and neglecting the humanitarian disaster that is happening.

The Lebanese State is the main class enemy of the Lebanese and the Palestinian working class, and it is a necessity that the left in Lebanon should stand in solidarity with the Palestinian working class in defiance against state policies and the attacks that are taking place against Nahr el Bared camp.

The communist party in Lebanon should be disgraced and condemned for being a silent collaborator with the killings of civilians, since it has declared its support to the Lebanese army.

With such attitude of one of the main blocks of the left in Lebanon we need to stand today and start building a working class solidarity between Lebanese and Palestinians and try to prepare for the battle against oppression and the massacres committed by the state and its armed and security forces. The Army has the state and the international community in its support, and under any logic it is not accepted for any proclaimed leftist, socialist or Marxist organization to take a position supporting the armed state’s machine of oppression.

For us we are quite clear in such cases we abhor violence, and oppose indiscriminate bombings of civilians. Fateh El Islam should be looked at as an alarming consequence and direct result of state terrorism and the general destabilization of the region and also as a result of the Syrian occupation in Lebanon.

The rule of the thugs and war criminals and ex-collaborators of the Syrian regime and present-collaborators of US policies, would in no means build a society of peace and tolerance, but instead it will be a society full of hatred, sectarianism and racism. And this would only bring more attacks on the working class.

The Lebanese and Palestinian working class need first to build class unity between them and not a unity build on indentity politics, and hand in hand need to stand and to get rid from the blood stained officials, ministers, MPs and build a people’s Lebanon. The Left in Lebanon should step out of its ghettos either being in the Palestinian camps or in alleys and streets of Beirut. It is first the responsibility of the Lebanese left to step a courageous step towards the Palestinians and start building networks of solidarity and unity.

There is no space today for any defeatist or a defensive position, today’s battle is tomorrow’s reality and avoiding this battle would mean more divergence and more racism and a bitter defeat for the working class in Lebanon. The conditions for a strong working class movement in the political sense are very weak, but in such times if the left was able to relate between the oppression that the Palestinians are facing with the oppression that the Lebanese workers are facing, there is a good chance for a movement to emerge to the surface. Such a movement is hard guarantee against the possible deterioration of the situation that might lead to more violence and clashes and might be able to stop the State’s highly possible offensive against the Palestinian camps especially that now the State is using what is happening in Nahr el Bared as an excuse to demand the removal of Palestinian arms from the camps.

At the end there is no one who better explained the dangers of such issue, than Leon Trotsky, written about 88 years ago, Trotsky's writings remain an invaluable guide. First of all Trotsky dealt brilliantly with the hypocrisy of our rulers. Socialists, he argued, have "nothing in common with those bought and paid for moralists who, in response to any terrorist act, make solemn declarations about the 'absolute value' of human life.

"These are the same people who, on other occasions, in the name of other absolute values-for example, the nation's honor or the monarch's prestige-are ready to shove millions of people into the hell of war." Trotsky also understood that terrorism arose because of the tyranny and oppression of our rulers. "We understand only too clearly the inevitability of such convulsive acts of despair and vengeance," he wrote.

Trotsky put it like this: "The smoke from the explosion clears away, the panic disappears, the successor of the murdered minister makes his appearance, and life again settles into the old rut, the wheel of capitalist exploitation turns as before-only police repression grows more savage and brazen."

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