Monday, May 28, 2007

...TO THE CAMPS OF TRIPOLI: In some places, support of the Palestinian cause is considered a good PR move. And then there is Lebanon:
Of the 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, about 250,000 live in twelve camps scattered across the country. The camps are mainly ruled by militias, because the Lebanese army cannot enter under a 1969 agreement ceding control of the camps to the Palestine Liberation Organization. Inside the camps, where living conditions are miserable, regional players hustle for power. Some groups are loyal to Damascus; others to Palestinian parties like Hamas and Fatah; some even span the Sunni-Shia divide and lean toward Hezbollah (most Muslim Palestinians are Sunni, not Shia). What makes this mix of influences particularly volatile is the danger that trouble could spread to other camps as the fighting drags on.

...Loyalty to the Palestinian cause has always been a reliable way to boost your Arab nationalist credentials; this is why Saddam Hussein donated money to families of Palestinian suicide bombers. So attacking Palestinian civilians is generally not a good p.r. move in the Arab world.

But there's deep resentment of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and they're often an easy scapegoat for the country's problems. When we ask Abu Saqr if he knows about civilian casualties inside the camp, he answers by referring to the Palestinians as "Jews," and the camp as "Tel Aviv."
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