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Expelled from Iraq, Rejected by Syria - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It is the same story all over again. The displacement of Palestinians does not end in their own town of Gaza. They are on the hunt, pursued by the guns of their government, which claims to be their best defender. They fled their own government’s pursuit, jails, and torture to Israel, which played its usual role of expelling them again.

There is another story of Palestinian displacement on Iraq’s northern border, where another forgotten tragedy unfolds of the thousands of stranded Palestinians who have been living in tents on the aid of international organizations for the past two years.

They were expelled by the new Iraqi regime and refused entry by the Syrians. Their tents are scattered in various areas, and the most miserable were put up in an arid desert where only UN employees take care of them. These UN employees deserve thanks for their humane efforts and attitude, which have finally been capped by good news. These hundreds of Palestinian refugees have been told that Sweden and Finland have agreed to receive them to end their misery. There are other Palestinian refugees who have been refused entry by both Syria and Iraq and who live in a camp on the Iraqi-Syrian border. Syria prevents them from entering its territory while Iraq refuses their return to live in Iraq. These refugees live under harsh conditions, and international organizations reported that so far 12 have died for lack of medical care.

Much can be said about this long, recurring tragedy of Palestinian refugees, reflecting the height of Arab displacement of Palestinians. First, the Palestinian leaders should be ashamed of bragging about their empty rhetoric and bravado, and should pay attention to addressing the harsh living conditions of approximately three million refugees. Second, the Arab citizen needs to teach himself about the facts of the Palestinian cause. He should not be content with TV newscasts, sitting in an armchair at home enjoying drinking tea with friends and chattering about steadfastness, confrontation, and boycott. These Arab citizens do not face an enemy or live in tents as the Palestinians have been doing for the past 70 years. Arab rejectionists do not mind if the Palestinian refugees continue to live in tents on international aid for another hundred years, all in the name of confrontation, and to continue to chatter about heroic deeds from afar.

In this cruel world only distant countries, which we sometimes dare to condemn, which have displayed a measure of humanity and offered genuine assistance to the Palestinian refugees. Sweden and Finland have granted several hundreds entry visas to those poor Palestinian refugees after the Arab countries refused them entry. Sweden and Finland will provide these refugees with free housing and living subsidies, and may later grant them citizenship. Our entire Arab region would move only when an Arab leader is pursued. The Arab governments would hasten to defend such a leader’s human rights, and the Arab League would hold urgent meetings to defend him, and the Arab Bar Organization would lavish the funds of its members to defend him. The alleged Arab parliament — alleged because it claims to represent Arab citizens, while in fact it is a fake representation –would step forward to defend a pursued Arab leader. Has anyone heard anything about the poor, forgotten Palestinian, Iraqi, Lebanese, Somali, Sudanese, and other Arab refugees? Rarely does anyone speak of them, and more rarely does anyone do anything for them.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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