Fateh el-Islam: Insider View (Part I)
How the Lebanese government works (or rather does not), courtesy of Minister and MP Ahmad Faftat.
In an interview to L’Orient-LeJour Ahmad Fatfat said quite a bit about Fateh el-Islam (FI herein), the group at the heart of the current fighting in the Nahr el-Bared camp, near Tripoli.
Fatfat is not just anyone. He is full-fledged minister (Youth and Sports) in the current Saniora/Seniora cabinet. Furthermore, he was the interim minister of the INTERIOR for about a year, until very recently and when Fatah el-Islam (FI) appeared on the radar screens.
From the interview with Michel Hajji-Georgiou (Fatfat is in part reacting to accusations of having gone easy on such groups):
[Sorry no link, L’Orient’s stories are accessible for just one day. It’s the June 1, 2007 issue, translation is mine.]
-Fatfat (and security officials) started tracking the FI group back in October-November 2006.[IMO it should not matter, both are unacceptable but that’s just me.]
-Chaker Absi (head of the group) comes in from Syria, associates with Fateh el-Intifada in the Beddawi camp (next to Bared). The new group fights with local Hamas, becomes Fateh el-Islam (FI) and moves north to Nahr el-Bared where they take over the camp from Fateh Intifada and get their hands on stashes of weapons.
-At that point authorities were between two theories: FI is a Syrian controlled group versus FI is just "another" Palestinian formation.
-When bus bombs claimed 4 Lebanese civilian lives in Ain Alak in February 2007, police arrested 4 Syrians belonging to FI who confessed to being trained and sent by Syria.Why did this level of monitoring start only after Ain Alak, and not when the group first appeared? Especially given suspicions it was a Syrian group?
-That’s when Lebanese security formed a “central cell” (coordinating different services) to monitor the group in and out of the camp.
Fatfat was not interior minister at that time anymore and he says the army apparently asked the police to postpone the storming of FI offices in order to gather more information.
Earlier and fuller monitoring before the Ain Alak bombs may have spared those victims. Cracking down on FI right after Ain Alak may have saved the tens of lives lost in the past few days.
We’ll never know, but these aggressive measures were necessary. We are not formally in a state of emergency, but, damn it, that’s what it is.
Then, to justify the army's strong action, Fatfat says that for the first time in Lebanese history there is convergence among:
“an extraordinary reaction by the army, strong local Sunni support, Fateh support, Hamas and other Palestinian organizations support as well as Arab and international support.”Please go back and re-read Fatfat’s words.
There is no Lebanese government and no Lebanese people. It's Sunni support, and Palestinian this and international that. This from the government trying to rebuild the Lebanese NATION and its STATE.
Four people going to work by bus were killed in Ain Alak. FI starts hostilities against the army by killing 17 unsuspecting (sleeping?) soldiers. And we can only act against this scum of the earth because of Sunni local support and Palestinian approval etc???
We have gotten to this point BECAUSE visionless/coward governments were sovereign neither over their decisions nor over their lands.
I wish the army a swift victory and I hope it gains respect and uses it. And I sure hope to God that next time the government/army need to act, they don't have to wait for Mercury to be in Gemini nor for anyone's approval, local or foreign.