Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lebanon: Gunfight at the Nahr al-Bared corral

The Lebanese army is actively engaged in military action in the north of the country against Palestinian fighters centered on one of those infamous refugee camps, Nahr al-Barad located just southwest of the city of Tripoli.

At least 23 Lebanese army and 19 Palestinians have been killed so far in the gunbattles, which have spread to the outskirts of Tripoli itself after the Palestinians opened fire on roads leading to the city and ambushed a Lebanese military unit.

Reportedly, 8 Lebanese soldiers have been taken prisoner by the Palestinians as well

For those of you who don't know, Palestinian `refugees', as elsewhere in much of the Arab world are subjected to treatment that makes that nasty Zionist so-called occupation look positively benign. The Palestinians are despised by many Lebanese for the role they played in sparking the civil war back in the `80's and overturning the precarious factional balance that kept Lebanon peaceful until Arafat and the Palestinians came along after being chased out of Jordan. They are, essentially imprisoned in camps like Ein al-Hewar and Nahr al-Barad and forbidden to work in most professions, own land or otherwise participate in normal activities, and the Lebanese Authorities normally keep a tight watch on the inhabitants.

This is a natural breeding ground for Islamic terrorists, as the Palestinians lend themselves to the idea of being shock troops for different factions.

In this case, it appears that the Palestinians in question belong to Fatah al-Islam, a group with ties to al-Qaeda, and most likely Iran and Syria, although the official Syrian backed Palestinian group is called Fatah Uprising and this is supposedly an offshoot - but given Fatah al-Islam's heavy weaponry, it's obvious that Iran and Syria are involved somewhere.

Can't tell the jihadis without a scorecard, hmmm?

The fun started, according to my sources when some of the Fatah al-Islam boys held up a bank in a small town southeast of Tripoli called Amyoun got away with around $120,000 and were chased by the Lebanese government authorities back into the camp...which is when the shooting broke out.

The Lebanese Army sent reinforcements to the outskirts of Nahr al-Bared, but didn't go inside the camp, in line with a 1969 Arab League agreement that bars Lebanese security forces from entering Palestinian camps.

This is likely connected with Syria's efforts to derail UN efforts to set up an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of Rafiq Hariri...some of whom are higher ups in the Assad government. So this is more than just the simple battle against `al-Qaeda radicals' that it's being reported as.

Another factor bearing this out is the fact that, just like the Mafia, groups like Hezbollah, Amal and the other militias and factions control their turf religiously, and it's unlikely that upstarts like Fatah al-islam would have gotten away with committing a bank robbery like this unless it was sanctioned by higher, say, Syria and Iran.

We'll see what develops...

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