Palestinian Rulers Are Indifferent to Their People’s Suffering in Syria

Jan. 11 2019

In 2018, at least 82 Palestinians were tortured to death in Bashar al-Assad’s prisons; 556 have reportedly died thus in recent years. An additional 1,711 Palestinians are known to remain in Syrian custody. Yet the usual outrage from the media, politicians, and activists has not been forthcoming. Khaled Abu Toameh comments:

A Palestinian who is shot by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration in the West Bank or Gaza Strip . . . will attract the instant ferocious attention of the international media. Many reporters prefer a story where they can point an accusatory finger at Israel than one that blames an Arab government or president. . . .

One can make excuses for the apathy of the international community toward the atrocities the Palestinians are facing in Syria. But the indifference of Palestinian leaders to the suffering of their own people is harder to justify. . . . The Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank simply does not care about the Palestinians living in Syria. Palestinian leaders do not even seem to care about their people in the Gaza Strip. The PA’s President Mahmoud Abbas has imposed a series of punitive measures against the coastal territory that have further aggravated the economic crisis there. These measures include halting payment of salaries to thousands of Palestinian employees and needy families.

The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip care only about keeping themselves in power. Their main objective is to maintain a tight grip on the Gaza Strip and prevent Abbas and his PA from ever returning there. The 3,911 Palestinians who died in Syria in the past eight years were no more to Hamas than a blip on the radar—if that. . . .

While Palestinians were being killed and tortured in Syria, Abbas and Hamas were busy hurling insults at each other. . . . All the while, Palestinians in Syria are dying daily. Will Abbas and Hamas ever utter critical words about the Syrian leadership or any other Arabs who mistreat and murder Palestinians? Not likely. Abbas and Hamas remain silent about the suffering of their people, while the world also yawns.

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More about: Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary], approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat