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.