Thursday, July 06, 2006

Foreigners and Levantine Conflict

Elijah Zarwan reports on influences in Lebanon:
"I was also surprised by the evidence of Syrian, Iranian, and even Al-Qaeda meddling. I’d always been suspicious of talk of Syrian-Iranian cooperation and harmful meddling in the region. But it’s true: The Lebanese groups are open about the sources of their money and guns, and it seemed pretty clear that the money and the guns weren’t helping Lebanon come together. All the groups profess to be worried by Al-Qaeda’s ventures into the Palestinian camps and the possibility of the camps’ becoming recruiting grounds for foreign fighters in Iraq. There have been a few cases of Palestinian refugees from Lebanon popping up in Iraq."

Some of this money also finds it's way into the Occupied Territories, which is one reason the often hard-up for cash Palestinian Authority has trouble controlling militants. A related point is made by Ocean Guy, who is far enough to my right I'm not going to deal with his whole post, but will just note his comments on the use of the conflict by Arab governments. I used to think the whole "deflect criticism" argument was overblown, but if you read back through the Arabist Network for the last few weeks you'll be struck by how much the Egyptian reformists seem to have been knocked off course by the events in Gaza, which also buried Kuwait's elections. Given the recent upsurge in repression within Arab states, I'd be very curious to know who some of the more mysterious partners in the anti-Israel Gaza operations are and who's paying their bills. Economics are also a factor, though I forget which Gulf state recently came up with a plan to allow guest workers to earn citizenship but explicitly prohibited Palestinians from participating based on some nonsense about them losing their identity. I think some leaders, such as King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and King Abdullah II of Jordan, might be serious about wanting to end the conflict, but behind the scenes the inter-Arab politics are pretty messy.


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