Tony Badran: Assad’s sectarian strategy
As noted by Michael Young, the Assad regime has been pursuing something “suspiciously similar” to ethnic cleansing along the northern and southern tips of the Alawite ancestral stronghold (and within it, as we saw yesterday in Haffeh, near Lattakia). While it’s hard to say whether the Syrian regime is preparing a fallback plan of an Alawite mini-state, it’s clear that Assad is pursuing a policy of Alawite inner consolidation.
The Assad regime’s Alawite-dominated forces are already little more than a sectarian militia. By arming Alawite villages and using them as launching pads for attacks against Sunnis, as he did in Houla and al-Qubayr (and possibly Haffeh), Assad is hardening the sectarian boundaries and implicating the entire Alawite community in the murder of Sunnis, further bonding its fate to his. If the Sunnis retaliate, as he surely must have counted they would, all the better.
Some commentators have speculated that by perpetrating these massacres, Assad was trying to reinstate fear in the hearts of his opponents. However, at this point in the game, we are well past that. This is no longer about putting the Sunni genie back in the bottle. Rather, this is about sealing Alawite solidarity and widening the target of Sunni animosity.
By covering the collective hands of the Alawite community with Sunni blood, Assad is creating total identity between his family and the broader sect, while simultaneously heightening its existential fears and feeding its primordial hatreds. “It is natural,” one Alawite woman told a reporter from The Telegraph recently, “[T]hey have to defend their sect.” “We have no future, at least not one that is worth looking forward to,” explained an insightful Alawite blogger known as Karfan in 2005. That is exactly what Assad sought to enshrine with the Houla massacre.
The killings are also a message to the outside world. When Assad hears daily consternation from Washington about the horrible specter of sectarian civil war in Syria, he recognizes that accentuating these anxieties is likely to deter, not trigger, international action. Indeed, judging from the underwhelming international reaction to the Houla killing, his reading was vindicated. This is why the pattern is now being repeated in other villages.
FP: The international community was too busy with the ethnic cleansing by Israel, but don’t worry, it has now sprung into action:
UN Secretary General accuses Syria of "unspeakable barbarity," will follow-up tomorrow with even stronger words, maybe yelling.
FP: It’s a requirement for UN general secretaries to be pathetic. I mean, look at what they are in charge of.
Elder of Ziyon: EU expands definition of PalArab "refugees" beyond UNRWA's
From the EU Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection website:
Palestinians in Lebanon: In 2012 ECHO continues its assistance to around 100,000 Palestinian refugees, which is almost 40% of the Palestinian refugee population living in Lebanon. With €5 million, the aid ensures shelter, safe water and sanitation, access to secondary health care, psychosocial support, protection and legal aid. Particular attention is paid to those refugees who do not receive aid from UNRWA and other organizations, especially those living in the 42 unofficial 'gatherings', and those lacking the legal status to benefit from UNRWA's aid programme.
Who are these Palestinian Arab "refugees" who do not receive aid from UNRWA?
From their 2012 report:
Refugees non registered and with no IDs: In addition to the registered refugees, an estimated 35,000 non-UNRWA registered and 3,000 non-identified Palestinians live in Lebanon without any official means of identification. The absence of an appropriate legal status and protection has put these refugees in a situation of extreme vulnerability.
This means that, according to the EU, there are some 38,000 Palestinians who do not qualify for aid by UNRWA, but are considered "refugees."
But the very definition of a Palestinian refugee is one who falls under UNRWA's mandate!
The only reason that Palestinian Arab "refugees" retain their anomalous status of being defined as refugees even though they do not fit the criteria listed by the 1951 Convention on Refugees is because of the loophole written specifically for them in article 1, paragraph D:
This Convention shall not apply to persons who are at present receiving from organs or agencies of the United Nations other than the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees protection or assistance.
That meant that those receiving aid from UNRWA in 1951 were considered refugees even if they did not meet the other criteria listed in the Convention. That disconnect has gotten orders of magnitude worse as UNRWA's "working definition" of refugees expanded to include descendants and did not establish any criteria for losing refugee status.
These 35,000-38,000 people do not fit even under UNRWA's expanded definition of "Palestinian refugee," therefore they are not refugees.
They are stateless, however, because of Lebanese bigotry against Palestinian Arabs and refusal to allow people born on Lebanese territory to become citizens, but they are not refugees by any legal or UN definition of the term.
No doubt they need help and the EC is doing a service by providing it to them, but the EU is doing them a disservice by referring to them as "refugees". If it cared about them more than about the fear of Arabs complaining to them, the EU would be pressuring Lebanon to give citizenship to these stateless people - people who are in their current situation because of Lebanese actions.
But to this humanitarian organization, politics is more important than finding a true solution.
FP: It is known that a large portion of the original approx. 700.000 UNRWA “refugees” were Arabs from various Arab countries who migrated to the UNRWA camps and claimed refugee status in order to fool UNRWA and take advantage of the benefits. Approx. 30,000 of the original ones are said to still live, the rest of the current approx. 5,000,000 are their several generations of descendants who uniquely retain the refugee status that no other refugee descendants do (see Asaf Romirovsky: Moving in the right direction). Now it turns out that there are additional 38,000 people who not even UNRWA could qualify as refugees, but are still considered refugees and supported as such.
Israel should quickly accept the right of return, because the more it waits it may well have to accept populations of some Arab countries too, instead of just 5,000,000.
The idiocy of the West never ceases to amaze me. Is there any wonder that the Arabs hold it in such contempt?
Nicholas Eberstadt: Japan Shrinks