FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Will the Destruction of Nahr al Bared be Replicated in Yamouk?

by FRANKLIN LAMB

Yarmouk Camp, Damascus

Some Palestinian 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, near Tripoli, Lebanon, and as many as 29 country’s salafists invaded Yarmouk in Damascus some discretely over the past several months and a massive attack starting on  12/16/12.  Both invading groups 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.  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 the camps 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 Yarmouks 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.

Irrespective 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’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, Jabril and the organization is persona non grata in Yarmouk and its 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 and formed “popular security committees” ostensibly to keep order and “neutrality” in the camp and 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 Jabril set up have 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!”

Reports 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 fplamb@gmail.com.

Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Lebanon, France, and USA based Meals for Syrian Refugee Children Lebanon (MSRCL) which seeks to provide hot nutritional meals to Syrian and other refugee children in Lebanon. http://mealsforsyrianrefugeechildrenlebanon.com. He is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail