On May 25, 2007, Islamist websites posted a communiqué titled “The Military Commander of the Al-Qaeda in Balad Al-Sham” (“Al-Sham” is the historical term for Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine). The communiqué called the Lebanese military attack on the Nahr Al-Bared refugee camp “a new Crusader war” and demanded that the Lebanese military withdraw its forces from the area of the camp. Lest, the communiqué said, “rivers of blood” would be spilled and “no Crusader will have a safe place in Lebanon.”
This is starting to look like Iraq. If anything, it’s more complicated. Fatah al-Islam and whoever issued this represent radical Sunnis, Hezbollah (and others) the fundamentalist Shiites. The Lebanese government includes members from at least five Christian groups, as well as Sunnis, Shiites (some aligned with Hezbollah, some not), and Druze. The US is apparently supporting the government. It’s interesting that the communiqué refers to ‘Crusaders’:
“Out of the obligation to aid [our brothers], we are sending a clear message to the head of Christianity in Maronite Lebanon… and telling him: Stop your dogs [from harming] our people, and extinguish your cannon. If you do not, you are hereby warned that, starting tomorrow, [no] Crusader will have a safe place in Lebanon, and just as you do harm, so will you be harmed.
It’s not just the ‘Crusaders’, though. The Druze leader Walid Jumbalat recently blamed Syria for being behind the violence, and others have said that Fatah al-Islam is a “creature of Syrian intelligence”. But apparently nothing except Jews gets Muslim anger up better than ‘Crusaders’, and they haven’t (yet) figured out how the Jews are responsible for this.
If you think you know what’s going on you are probably oversimplifying. One thing that is certain: the army is preparing for the final assault on Fatah al-Islam. Either they will turn out to be a tiny extremist group with at most a couple of hundred members that nobody cares about, or they will be the tail that will wag the dog of a much greater struggle between the members of the uneasy Lebanese partnership, with support from Syria, the US, Israel, Iran and who knows who else on the sidelines.
Update [28 May 1408 PDT]: Actually, they have figured out how to blame the Jews.
[Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker] Abssi has claimed that the group’s fight is with “Jews and Americans” and not with Lebanon. In a video statement aired on Al-Jazeera television, he said his group was “not a threat to the security of Lebanon” and accused an unidentified “third party” of starting the hostilities. — AFP
There is considerable concern in Israel that the violence will somehow find its way to the border.
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