The Failure of the Arab “State” and Its Opposition

Tribal fighters loyal to Sadiq al-Ahmar, the leader of the Hashed tribe, walk in front of a bullet-riddled building in Sanaa 10 April 2012. (Photo: REUTERS – Mohamed al-Sayaghi)

By: Hisham Bustani, writing in al Akhbar English

Thursday, April 19, 2012

After one year of the Arab uprisings that initially exploded in Tunisia and swept like wildfire throughout the Arab world, it became very clear that the spark, which has resulted in the removal of three oppressors so far, was spontaneous. That does not mean that the explosion had no preludes. On the contrary, the people were squeezed with each passing day, but those uprisings clearly showed that even in the absence of an organized catalyzing formation (revolutionary party, revolutionary class), an explosion takes place when a certain threshold is reached, a critical mass.

Uprisings in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet-bloc states came about through the work of organized opposition groups and parties (like Solidarity in Poland), and by decades of calm covert undermining, infiltration, and propaganda undertaken by the West. By contrast, the Arab uprising was not led by an organized opposition. Instead, it came as a surprise to the imperialist circles that historically backed their client oppressor regimes.

The Failure of the Post-Colonial Arab “State”

Following the British-French-Italian colonialism of the Arab region, the Europeans left behind an area that they deliberately divided into “states”. These were designed so as to leave no possibility for their becoming truly independent and sovereign. They also left a watchdog and an easy solution to assuage their anti-Semitic-burdened consciousness: “Israel,” a colonial-settler state that would maintain the imperialist design in the wake of the physical withdrawal of its patrons.

The post-colonial states were subordinate by design, by their innate nature of being divided and incomplete, and by the ruling class that followed colonialism. Continue reading

Lebanese activists protest Greece’s blocking of Gaza aid flotilla

12/07/2011

BEIRUT: A dozen pro-Palestinian activists held a demonstration Monday in front of the European Union building, after a flotilla heading to Gaza was prevented from leaving Greece and other activists were banned from entering Israel over the weekend.

“We’re protesting EU governments’ complicity in perpetuating the siege of Gaza and indirectly supporting the illegal blockage,” said a protest organizer, Rana Boukarim.

The aid flotilla, trying to break the blockade on Gaza, was prevented from departing Greece by local authorities on July 8, while many activists who had planned to fly to Israel for peaceful protests in the Occupied Territories, part of the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign – dubbed a flytilla – were banned from traveling or detained at Tel-Aviv’s airport. Continue reading

Lebanon’s left splits over Syria

The proximity and political relationship with Syria has left demonstrators at odds over Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown.

Matthew Cassel writing in Al Jazeera, 26 Jun 2011

In front of the Syrian embassy, two women hold signs condemning violence, repression and extremism, demonstrating in solidarity with Syrian protesters, while a crowd of supporters of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, gathers behind them [Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera]

On a May evening in a crowded Beirut theatre, a large white sheet hanging from the ceiling displayed the projected video of Syrian filmmaker Hala Abdullah reading a letter, written in Arabic, to the audience:

At the start of the Lebanese civil war when the Lebanese right asked the Syrian regime to interfere, fearing the extension of the Lebanese democratic left and its control over Lebanon, the regime responded and intervened militarily because it was worried that a democratic and liberal leftist regime would develop and take root. We were still young and determined then and we acted against the Syrian intervention by protests that were repressed, and we wrote statements and we were put in prison.

“The fear then is not different from the fear today,” Abdullah continued in her letter – delivered as part of a Syrian film screening event organised by Lebanese activists in “support of the Syrian revolution”. The rare event was hosted at the Sunflower Theatre in southern Beirut, one of the only venues that allowed it, and highlighted both the closeness and complexities between progressive communities in the two countries.

More than 35 years after the rise of the Lebanese left and the start of the civil war, people across Syria have risen up against decades of oppressive Baath party rule in their own country. Since demonstrations began in March, rights groups estimate that security forces have killed more than 1,000 protesters, and rights abuses are believed to be widespread.

President Bashar al-Assad and his Baathist regime have drawn global condemnation for the brutal crackdown on demonstrators. However, Beirut-based activists, many who have worked together against issues like sectarianism and in support of Palestinian and other Arab revolts, now find themselves split over their positions on the protests in Syria. Continue reading

Lebanon: The Nakba in Beirut

Palestinian women wearing traditional dresses salute as they sing the national anthem during a festival to commemorate Nakba in Beirut yesterday. Palestinians will mark “Nakba” on May 15 to commemorate the expulsion or fleeing of some 700, 000 Palestinians from their homes in the war that led to the founding of Israel in 1948.

Lebanon: No government, no prospects in sight


AlJazeeraEnglish  |   January 19, 2011

Saudi Arabia has abandoned its position as mediator in Lebanon, making it less likely that a speedy resolution to the crisis will emerge.

Last week, Hezbollah and other opposition parties withdrew their support from Saad Hariri’s coalition government, forcing it to collapse.

Political and sectarian divisions have also resurfaced following the UN draft indictment into the assasination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri, that is widely believed to implicate Hezbollah.

There are fears that this tension may spill onto the streets.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports from Beirut.

Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri reports.

Lebanese, get ready!: Government collapses; predators posture; Israel steps over the line

Israeli troops capture Lebanese man: army

Wednesday, January 12 2011

An Israeli patrol crossed into Lebanese territory on Wednesday and captured a Lebanese shepherd near the border, the Lebanese army said in a statement.

“In a flagrant assault on residents of southern Lebanon… Enemy troops crossed the technical fence south of the village of Rmeish and kidnapped a Lebanese man, whom they took back into the occupied territories,” or Israel, it said.

The statement said the army was in contact with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which is tasked with monitoring the Lebanon-Israel border, in order to “free the citizen.” Continue reading

The Case for Palestinian Rights in Lebanon

The Case for Palestinian Rights in Lebanon

Shatila refugee camp in Beirut

by Franklin Lamb, Counterpunch

“Palestinians who were expelled from any part of Palestine including the West Bank or Gaza Strip, along with those of their descendants who have maintained links with the area, can exercise their right to return. Meanwhile, granting interim basic civil rights to help them live in dignity in Lebanon will in no way interfere with their Return, but will likely expedite it as the refugees in Lebanon gain the wherewithal to press their claim more effectively in the international arena.”

As of mid-April 2010 there are no fewer than six draft laws, half of them ’embargoed for now’ being circulated and debated in Lebanon, any one of which if adopted by Parliament, would grant Lebanon’s Palestinians, for the first time since their 1948 expulsion from Palestine, some elementary civil rights including the right to work, to have an ID, and to own a home.

In a future report I will reveal publicly for the first time, with the permission of the various drafting committees, the changes in Lebanon’s laws each one advocates. Despite the fact that bookies and odd makers at Lebanon’s main Casino in Jounieh decline to give odds on any of the drafts actually being enacted by Parliament, Lebanon’s political leaders are talking sweet.

“If it were up to me, I would give the Palestinians the right to work tomorrow!” Prime Minister Saad Hariri exclaimed during a Future TV channel interview recently and to various visiting delegations who are increasingly inquiring about the subject of basic civil rights for Palestine refugees as awareness spreads in Lebanon and internationally about camp conditions in Lebanon. The PM’s polite interviewer demurred from asking him why the Prime Minister thought it was not up to him and indeed not up to all members of Parliament to correct this shameful and dangerous injustice. Continue reading

Lebanese government adopts US-designed “community policing” to tighten control over Palestinian refugee camps

[This article describes how the US-backed and armed Lebanese government has imposed direct rule on the 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, and the “community policing” tactics that the Lebanese military is applying in the camps.  However, the article mischaracterizes the people’s struggle in the refugee camps as one for “civil and human rights,” not for national liberation and for the right to return to their homes and communities in historic Palestine, which has been occupied by the state of Israel since the Nakba (Catastrophe) in 1948.

More problematic, the article seems to endorse the proposal of Fatah/PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) to “reform” the popular committees in the camps and set up a “Palestinian police force attached to the popular committees and coordinating with the ISF [Lebanon’s Internal Security Force], which should remain outside the camp.”  This plan would permit armed Palestinian forces under Fatah/PLO command  to police the people in the refugee camps, while the Lebanese military waits outside the camps in case they are needed to suppress the people’s struggle. The similarities are striking between this Fatah/PLO plan for gaining total control over the refugee camps in Lebanon on the one hand, and on the other hand how the West Bank Palestinian Authority (led by Fatah and the PLO) suppresses mass demonstrations and arrests political activists, while Israeli special forces carry out night raids and targeted assassinations of leaders of organizations confronting the Israeli occupation.–Frontlines ed]

Lebanese army airborne commandos demonstrate prowess to students on Lebanon's Independence Day on November 22

Electronic Lebanon, 19 January 2010

 

Lebanon tightens control over Palestinian refugee camps

“Amr Saededine, an independent journalist, says “community policing”  is about getting people to spy on one another in the camps, and report to the security service.”

NAHR AL-BARED, Lebanon – Recent inter-factional clashes in Lebanon’s Ein al-Hilwe refugee camp once more illustrated the fragile security situation in some of its Palestinian camps. Lebanese plans to take over security within the camps are rejected by the Palestinians.

The new year had hardly begun when the sounds of gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades rocked Ein al-Hilwe camp on the outskirts of the Lebanese coastal city Sidon. The most recent clash broke out when fighters belonging to the militant Islamist group Jund al-Sham attacked an office of the mainstream Fatah movement within the camp. The fierce fighting was contained and eventually stopped when the camp’s security committee intervened.

Ein al-Hilwe and other refugee camps are home to various Palestinian nationalist groups, but also host different Islamist forces that the Lebanese government considers a threat to the state’s security and stability. In 2007, one of those groups called Fatah al-Islam engaged the Lebanese army in a 15-week battle in Nahr al-Bared, the country’s most northern Palestinian refugee camp. Nahr al-Bared was reduced to rubble, and 30,000 fled.

Lebanon hosts around 250,000 Palestinian refugees, many living in 12 officially recognized refugee camps. They have no education or employment rights comparable to the Lebanese. The Cairo Agreement of 1969 put the camps under control of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and banned Lebanese security forces from entering. Continue reading

Voices from Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon: On the right of return

By Hugh Macleod

Israel may be urging Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to continue faltering peace talks despite refusing to renew a freeze on illegal settlement building, but in the tinderbox Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon life is defined by an issue neither side has ever publically expressed any willingness to compromise over: The right of Palestinian refugees to return home.

“No-one can negotiate on our right to return to Palestine. There is only one country called Palestine and we will never return there except by resistance to Israel,” says Abu Yousef, a fighter with the Palestinian faction Ansar Allah.

Absolute right or demographic danger

The right of return polarises the seemingly intractable conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis like no other issue.

For most Palestinians the right of return for the up to six million refugees who are ancestors of those who made the exodus from Palestine that followed the creation of Israel in 1948 is an absolute.

For Israeli officials – whose historians dispute the figure of six million and also the reason for the mass exodus – the issue is existential: The sheer number of Palestinian refugees who can claim a right to return to their pre-1948 homes are a demographic danger to the world’s only Jewish state. Continue reading