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 is a visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University and volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (sssp-lb.com).

More articles by:
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and My Late Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy after All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail