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Disarming the Camps - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The battles fought in Nahr al Bared, the second largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, between Fatah al Islam and the army underlines one fact—Palestinian camps in Lebanon must be disarmed unconditionally.

Armed Palestinian refugees had lived in Jordan, which resulted in what came to be known in history as Black September, when Palestinian and Jordanian blood was shed and the crisis was close to devastating the Jordanian state. The same happens in Lebanon from time to time, where Palestinian camps become a territory that is above the Lebanese law, or rather outside of the law, despite the difficulties facing both the Lebanese state and law.

On the other hand, we know that when Palestinian refugees were unarmed in Tunisia, Syria or Iraq, we did not see fighting or lawless protectorates in those countries.

The occupation of the Palestinian territories and the suffering of the Palestinian people should act as a wake up call whenever we see an Arab state on the verge of falling into a crisis rather than be used as an excuse to shed blood in the Arab world because Palestine is occupied.

Nothing prevents the Palestinian refugees from living in the Arab world and having the right to a dignified life, both for them and their children, until their issue has been resolved. That, however, does not imply that the Palestinians should be a center of conflict or build a state within the state in which they live.

Prohibited to the Lebanese army, camps in Lebanon have become territories external to the state and a harbor for any one who commits a crime. They have begun to observe organized crime and all that is prohibited and have witnessed fighting between rival factions.

Therefore, the camps must be disarmed, just as other parties in Lebanon must be disarmed. In particular, Iranian weapons must be taken out of the hands of Hezbollah. Those who smuggle arms to Hezbollah, or even to the Palestinian camps – and they are known to everyone – have to be held accountable.

If we do not maintain the standing of the state in our Arab world, the future will forebode greater danger and what we are experiencing and feeling today is more than enough. The Arab countries must help the Lebanese accomplish this goal, and the first state that must take a positive stance to protect Lebanon and its territorial integrity is Syria.

The reality of Palestinian camps in Lebanon has turned them into centers of conflict and explosive areas that are manipulated by those who want to secure their gains on the ground in Lebanon. This is what is happening today. The heated situation that we are now seeing is very similar to what we saw last year prior to the 33-day war and cannot be detached from the crimes committed at the hands of Hamas and Fatah in Gaza against each other.

Disarmament and support for the Lebanese state are essential or else the price will be high for everyone.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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