Posted by: sean | May 22, 2007

Questions about Tripoli and bombs in Beirut

I don’t know what to think about what’s currently happening in Lebanon. I have a lot more questions than answers about the whole mess. I posted a few links to articles that were on or mentioned Fatah al-Islam, and it’s no clearer to me who is financing these guys now. Everyone seems to be against these guys, from the PLO and Hamas to March 8 and 14, and Abssi is wanted on terrorism charges in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. The opposition, backed up by Sy Hersh, seem to think that these guys have been supported by Saad Hariri, whereas the pro-government forces are blaming Syria.

A few things don’t make sense, though. If these guys were really pro-Syrian, why would they have splintered off from the very pro-Syrian Fatah al-Intifada? And if they were really a tool of Hariri, why would they be fighting the ISF? Of course both of these questions assume that whoever financed these guys is still in control — which may not be the case at all.

In any case, there are a lot of unanswered questions for me. Like why the ISF was even involved in the first place in a bank robbery investigation, and why then, the affair was handed over to the Army. Another question is what it would take to get permission to enter the Palestinian camps. Yet another is whether these fighters are Palestinian or rather foreigners (I’ve been seeing accounts that some are Yemeni, Bangladeshi and Saudi).

In any and all cases, the LAF is in a tough situation. If they back off, they look incompetent, which is already kind of the case since the militants seem to have given better than they have gotten in the exchange with the army so far. But since they cannot enter the camps, they’re shelling them, which no matter what the case, cannot be a very precise way of retaliation. The shelling of Palestinian camps in Lebanon has historically been a bad idea, and I imagine that this time is no exception. The problem is that it is hard to see a solution to the problem short of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and the refugee problem it created.

And now the bombs. Both Verdun and ABC have been hit with what seem to be warning shots. This is disconcerting to say the least. (I live about ten minutes by foot from the first bomb site.) Are the bombings related to the fighting in Tripoli? If so, why would a salafi group attack a Sunni neighborhood? Was Fatah al-Islam responsible for the bus bombings last February? If they have been responsible, why haven’t they claimed credit for either?

A friend of mine may be going up to Tripoli to see what’s happening for herself, and I’ve asked another friend at UNRWA if she has seen any echoes of what’s happening in the other Palestinian camps. I’ll post more as soon as I know more.

In the meantime, I’m way past deadline on a manuscript and sick as a dog, so that’s all for now…



  1. The question is probably not who are financing them now, but who made them exist in the first place and now have no control over them anymore.

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