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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

PFLP-GC: the new Hizbullah?

Those poor Palestinian refugees. The last thing they need right now is pro-Syrian PFLP to hijack their security and use them as shields against their hosts and pawns in Syria's dirty game in Lebanon. According to the Daily Star, Damascus-based Ahmad Jibril has instructed PFLP-GC members in all refugee camps to "be on full alert and be ready for mobilization at any moment."

Background: Last week, there were unconfirmed reports about armed Palestinians (PFLP coming from Syria) infiltrating the border and the Daily Star today confirmed that the Lebanese army has set up checkpoints at more than 25 illegal entry points along the border with Syria.
Last year, the Lebanese army issued an ultimatum to PFLP-GC to stay out of southern Lebanon after guerrillas fired 3 Katyusha rockets from South Lebanon on the outskirts of the northern Jewish settlement of Margeliot in retaliation to the assassination of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in Gaza. There were also reports that PFLP-GC has been reinforcing its bases in the Bekaa and Ne'meh following the Syrian withdrawal.

Back to the Daily Star article:
Sources said an emergency meeting was expected to be held at the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut between PFLP-GC representatives and representatives of Palestinian factions as The Daily Star went to press.

Lebanese security authorities warned all security and military personnel to stay away from the camps for "fear of friction or kidnappings," according to the source.

Many Palestinian refugees have had it with these factions manipulating and terrorising them. But as long as the refugees remain without rights and employment opportunities, we will continue to see refugee youth joining militant factions, espousing misguided causes and harboring resentment towards the Lebanese government, something that could easily play into the hands of Syria (a lot can be said about Syria's role in the camps, but that's another post).

If these reports are to be believed, then Syria is probably realizing that Hizbullah can no longer play the role it played before Hariri's assassination. Even though the party of God says it will not disarm or give up its struggle against Israel, I doubt it will be party to an escalation of violence in the south. The only groups capable of that are the pro-Syrian Palestinian factions. Some bloggers (Vox) have linked the infiltration reports to recent bombings that targeted journalists and politicians. I personally think Syria is quietly trying to building a front in the south with Palestinians replacing Hizbullah as instigators.

Perhaps if we start treating the Palestinian refugees as human beings they will start liking us a little better.

UPDATE: More on this here.

Kais, I want to add that I don't think that Palestinians militias are a threat in today's Lebanon. Unlike the 70's, they can conduct tactical, not strategic operations. Though they might be able to conduct some operations, there's a cross-sectarian consensus to avoid the errors of the past. Beside, most Palestinians are not willing to fight Syria's war against Lebanon.
agreed, but they can help destabilize the country, which seems to be a syria objective.
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