From Palestine to Iraqon August 23, 2007 at 12:00 am
Democracy Now recently interviewed Nir Rosen (hat-tip to Democratic Underground and This Modern World). Mr. Rosen is reflexively sympathetic toward America’s enemies, but otherwise his analysis is accurate.
This lept out at me:
Well, when we think of the Iraqi refugee crisis, we have to think of the crisis that people in the region think of in relation to that one, and that’s the Palestinian refugee crisis. In 1948, up to 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes in Palestine [sic] to make way for what became Israel. They went to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan. There were put in refugee camps. Eventually, after a few years, they were militarized, mobilized. They had their own militias. They were engaged in attacks, trying to liberate their homes. And they eventually were instrumentalized by the various governments, whether Lebanon, Syria, Jordan. Different groups used them. And they were massacred, as well, by the Lebanese, by the Jordanians. They contributed to destabilization of Jordan, of Lebanon, as well.
And I think you will see something similar happening with the Iraqis, because we have much larger numbers, approaching three million, and many of them already have links with militias back home, of course, because to survive in Iraq you need some militia to protect you. And there are long-established smuggling routes for weapons, for fighters, etc.
And add to that the very sensitive sectarian issue in Syria, in Jordan. The Syrian regime is a minority regime perceived by radical Sunnis to be a heretical. Syria is a majority Sunni country. The majority of the refugees are Sunni. Syria has a good relationship with a Shia-dominated Iraqi government. There have been various Islamist opposition groups who have sought to overthrow their government in Syria. Jordan, as well, has its own Islamist opposition. We’re likely eventually to see, as Sunnis are pushed more and more out of Baghdad and as the militias are pushed into the Anbar Province, that they might link up with Islamist groups in Syria, in Jordan, in Lebanon.
Two themes, both of which I’ve described before.
First, the Sunni Arabs have now lost a second country. The first time, they lost Palestine to survivors of the Holocaust. Now, they are losing it to heathens living in the rear-end of the Arab world, the Shia. The Iraq War was about feedback, about demonstrating the consequences of running an entire civilization into the ground. There is no reason to think that the effects of losing Iraq will be any less than the consequences of losing Palestine.
Second, Islam is the answer. Since decolonization, the Sunni Arab states that have gone most off the rails have adopted some form of socialist secular nationalism, such as the Baath Party, Naserism, etc. Surprisingly, banishing God and the market doesn’t do much for national health. Because Sharia incorporates market mechanisms, Islamist parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood appear to be in the best position to lead their countries forward.