This is a most interesting development.
Fatah-Lebanon has about 5,000 guerrillas under arms and a long-term presence in the refugee camps. This is a reduction of almost half, from 5,000 to 3,000, of their force. It also swells Hezbollah’s fighting size by 15% – from 12,000-14,000. This is interesting because Fatah-Lebanon’s cadres are for the most part Sunni Muslims. That so many Sunnis would join the Shia Hezbollah is amazing, and holds out hope for an amelioration of Shia-Sunni relations.
The leader of the faction who went over is named Munir Maqdah. He’s long been known as a radical. When the US invaded Iraq, he sent over many Palestinian volunteers from his camp, Ain Hilwa, to fight with Saddam’s forces. Many were present at the end in Baghdad and suffered serious casualties. When they tried to evacuate afterwards, they found that many locals would not help them, since the locals hated Saddam.
After the insurgency began, Ain Hilwa kept sending Palestinians to fight with the Iraqi guerrillas, who at that time had many moderate factions.
There are rumors that he has contacts with the Palestinian groups who have gone over to Al Qaeda. The Lebanese Army fought a war against some of these idiots, who include many non-Palestinians, especially Saudis and Syrians, in refugee camps in the north of Lebanon a while back.
However, Al Qaeda-Lebanon seriously hates Hezbollah, and I doubt if Hezbollah trusts Al Qaeda at all. Many Sunnis, especially in the north, also hate Hezbollah. Christians are divided, with one faction under Aoun supporting Hezbollah and the Falange disliking them strongly.
Background on the Camps
The camps themselves are the result of many thousands of Arabs ethnically cleansed from northern Palestine in 1947-1949. They moved across the border to Lebanon and have been in camps ever since. The Zionists scream about how the Arabs keep the Palestinians in these camps instead of making citizens out of them in order to keep the conflict going. Sadly, there is some truth to this. In Lebanon, the Palestinians may not become citizens, and their ability to work to support themselves is seriously restricted.
However, in Lebanon it is is the pro-US and pro-Israel crowd who hate the Palestinians and want to keep them in the camps. Many proposals have been made to integrate the Palestinians into Lebanese society, but they are always thwarted by the Christians, who fear the demographic implications of many new Muslim Lebanese in society.
Lebanese Christians Oppressed?
The Christians are hardly oppressed. They are dramatically overrepresented in government since there has not been a decent national census in about 50 years while the numbers of Christians have declined. The Christians have been holding up a reasonable census for some time as it would mandate a reduction in the number of their guaranteed seats in the government. As it is, they are guaranteed a number of seats far in excess of their population.
There is no discrimination against Christians as the Falangist liars and their Zionist punk allies insist. In fact, the Christians have always run the place, often with an iron fist. Outrageously, the US Marines landed in Lebanon in the late 1950’s to enforce a Christian coup that took place after an election resulted in the Christian President losing the race. Yes, US Marines landed to prevent a democratic election from having its results instated. In your whole lifetime, the US MSM will never tell you about this affair.
The Christians have always hated the Palestinians from the moment they ended up on Lebanese territory. They forced them to stay in the camps, but then they wanted them out of the camps too. In Sabra and Shatila in 1982, the Christians murdered 3,500 unarmed Palestinian civilians while the Zionist allies under Ariel Sharon watched with binoculars and surrounded the camps so no one could come to rescue the victims.
The raid was intended to be part of a campaign by the Falange to rid Lebanon of the Palestinians once and for all. Sharon was subsequently absolved of this crime by a fake Commission in Israel and went on to win accolades as a popular President. Apparently, your average Israeli thinks Sabra and Shatila was a-ok.
Background on the Maronite Christians of Lebanon
It’s difficult to say why the Maronite Christians hate the Palestinians so much. There is another group of Christians in Lebanon – the Armenian and Greek Orthodox – who were pro-independence, support Hezbollah and even started the suicide bombing trend in Lebanon in the early 1980’s. But that’s because the Lebanese Orthodox look East, not West like Maronites, as I will elaborate below.
The Maronites were initially sympathetic to the Jews who moved to Palestine as another Judeo-Christian group from Europe. The Christians had held out in the mountains of Lebanon for centuries of Muslim jihad, forced conversions and even massacres – there was a serious massacre of Christians there by the Druze in the 1860’s.
The mountain hideouts were impregnable, hence the Maronites, the Druze and the Alawi in Syria were able to survive centuries of hostile Islam. The latter two are heretical Muslim sects who also survived by pretending to be Orthodox Muslims, disallowing intermarriage and conversion into the sect, and only allowing a few trusted leaders to know the truth of the religion, while your average follower scarcely knew what the religion was about. Hence, while some Muslims said the Alawi and Druze were heretics, this was hard to prove.
When the Crusaders came to retake Jerusalem, the Maronites helped them, seeing them as fellow Christians come to rescue them from the Muslims.
As a result of long centuries of survival against Muslims bent on converting them, the Maronites have a reputation for being some of the toughest, most hardass Christians in the Middle East. They also don’t like Muslims much at all.
The Maronites are interesting because they have always looked West, to Europe, to Rome. They are Roman Catholics and not Eastern Orthodox as the rest of the Middle Eastern Christians are.
This Eurocentric outlook also resulted in a deep alliance with the French colonizers. In fact, Lebanon was originally carved out of Syria to give these hardy Christians survivors a “homeland,” on the same grounds that Israel was carved out of Palestine as a homeland for the Jews. As a result, many Syrian and even Lebanese Sunni Muslims regard Lebanon as a “fake state.” Syria has always regarded Lebanon as a runaway province.
The Maronites never wanted the French to leave and were often regarded as traitors by independence activists. All over the Middle East, Christians and Jews often worked hand and hand with colonizers and did not want the colonizers to leave, probably fearing independence under hostile Muslims. Hence, many were regarded as traitors by Arab independence activists.
12 thoughts on “2,000 Fatah-Lebanon Guerrillas Go Over To Hezbollah”
Those Fateh “fighters” will drag down Hezbollah’s military fighting capabilities.
here’s another (besides Aoun) pro-Syrian Maronite Lebanese family and movement.
Suleiman Frangieh. His last name cracks me up. It means “foreigner” in Persian. (Probably in the local Arabic, to)
It is important to note how the “Shia” element plays out in all of this, as well. In my experience amongst Palestinians, Jordanians and Lebanese(all Christian I admit), the Shias are not really seen as “Muslim.” They are the Shia, who beat the there backs bloody and what not.
Still, this thing seems rather counter-intuitive. These guys were and are the enemies of Hezbollah, or am I mistaken?
No, Fatah likes Hezbollah. The Palestinians like Hezbollah because Hezbollah fights for them. Even the Pallies in Lebanon. In that last war, a lot of Pallies from those camps fought against the Israelis too. So did the Eastern Orthodox militia.
Cyrus. You are Iranian? Cyrus was a king of Persia 2,500 years ago.
Palestinians generally don’t care about the Shia one way or the other, the ones I have met anyway. And some Palestinians have even converted to Shiism. Islamic Jihad was pro-Iran from the very start and some of the IJ guys converted to Shiism. It’s true that there are some Arab nationalists in Fatah who hate Iran, but that’s kind of a minor strand.
The Sunnis who hate the Shia are in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan (the tribes), the Gulf, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen.
I don’t think Syrian Sunnis care about the Shia. They don’t like the Alawi though, but that’s barely even Shia.
Mostly it has to do with whether or not you have Shia in your country. The Kuwaiti, Saudi, Yemeni, Bahraini, Lebanese and Iraqi Sunnis don’t like the Shia, but that’s because there are lots of Shia in their land whom they repress.
The Palestinians and North Africans don’t seem to care about the Shia because there are no Shia around.
Most Sunnis I know say that the Shia are Muslims, but they think they are somewhat heretical or something.They mention things like temporary marriage.
There is some conflict between the Pallies who will support whoever supports and fights for them – in this case, they support Iran and Hezbollah, and the hardline Arab nationalist Iran-haters. The more intellectual Arab nationalists don’t really hate the Shia, they just hate Iran. They’re really insane on the subject of Iran. There’s no reasoning with them. The Pallies in the Lebanon camps like Hezbollah because Hezbollah fights Israel. The local Sunnis don’t like the Shia, but that goes back to Sunni-Shia rivalry inside of Lebanon, where the Shia were always kept down.
Robert, good guess on your part. My name is a dead give away, at least for the more educated in American society. I read a rather good book last year by Robert Baer called “The Devil We Know”, which goes into great detail about Iranian influence in the region, and it’s own inroads into courting the more “Islamic” elements within the various Arab causes. For obvious reasons, that REALLY does not sit well with the Arab Nationalists, but then again, nothing “Persian” ever has. Let us not forget Saddam’s favorite quote, attributed to Khairallah Talfah; “Three Whom God Should Not Have Created: Persians, Jews, and Flies .” That more or less sums up the Arab Nationalist view on the extreme end.
Oh, and here is a link to the book I was talking about:
As far as Hezbollah’s fighting capabilities being effected, that should be of a concern(at least to them). They have developed(with huge Iranian training and help) a very effective military force. Perhaps the only Arab force to ever really beat Israel on the battlefield. Anything that might change that, should be their worry.
Alawites are currently designated as within Islam by the Syrian clergy and political folks who matter.
This is due to political pressure of course, not that it’s a bad thing from an American anti-Zionist perspective.
In the past, however, they have been designated as
heretics or outside Islam. Of course their doctrines go well beyond and contradict Mohammed’s theology, so they in fact are not Muslims.
I think that Alawis are Muslims. They’re just a heterodox sect, that’s all. However, I am not sure if Druze are Muslims at all. And I’m not sure about the Ahmadi over in Pakistan and India.
Great piece, Robert.
I pretty much concur. The only “Muslims” who would seriously view the Alawis as non-Muslims or worse, as heretics, are generally those holding the crazed “Salafist” worldview. Other Shias see them as a type of Shia Muslim(such as “Seveners” and such), at least to my understanding. I have always seen the Salafist worldview of other Muslims as similar to how Evangelical Christians in the United States tend to view the Catholic Church as “non-Christian” and “the Church of Satan” at times.
“while the numbers of Christians have declined.”
Yes, and why have they declined? They are all in South America now. Something to do with persecution by muslims?
Anyway, Sunni-Shia, I miss the Iran-Iraq war.
The Arabs in South America, also known as the “Turcos,” have more to do with the fall of the Ottoman Empire than anything else. Turkish Muslim persecution, sure. The Turks went paranoid-psycho from about 1915-1923. So Arab Christian immigration is not entirely a recent thing to my understanding. Same goes for most early 20th century Arab immigration to the U.S. All of the Palestinians I know in the U.S in fact fled what they perceive as Israeli persecution, and they are Christians. As far as the Sunni-Shia thing, that does not directly tie into the Iran-Iraq war. The majority of Iraqis were and are Shia, as are Iranians. Saddam may have been technically Sunni, but he was a Baathist Arab Nationalist at heart. He detested religion in general, and only became semi-Islamic in later years due to the needs of maintaining power. As far as “missing” that war, well…I lost family in it. It was the longest declared war of the 20th century, and was in many ways a recreation of WWI in the 1980’s. Only a sick asshole might actually “miss it.”