A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

adding insult to injury: jund al-Sham and the Lebanese Army in Taamir

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 25, 2007

Having grown bored with both Radio Orient’s live coverage of the Paris III conference and the re-broadcast of Nasrallah’s post-strike speech on al-Nour (the two are in a neck-and-neck competition for longest on-air speech time), I have turned to Radio Sawa and its effervescent pop broadcasts.

Sawa’s carefully calibrated mixture of Arabic pop and American R&B must be inspiring – I’ve been working straight for the past three hours, which naturally means that a blogging break is over.

Pre-Nasrallah, Radio Nour was broadcasting live from Ain el-Hilweh, a Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon. The camp is evidently such a morass of militias that foreigners have to receive special permission – and sign waivers – from the Lebanese government before going there.

The seemingly ubiquitous Jund al-Sham took up residence in Ain el-Hilweh some time ago, along with a number of equally unsavory paramilitary groups. When not organizing attacks on the US embassy in Damascus and other sensitive Syrian targets, the jund likes to go after the Lebanese army. Sometimes, as earlier this month, they do so under the pretext of preserving an “Islamic” morality:

Lebanese army, Islamic militants clash after soldiers search veiled school-girls

(from the International Herald Tribune, January 11, 2007)

SIDON, Lebanon: Armed Islamic militants and Lebanese troops clashed Thursday in south Lebanon, forcing hundreds of residents to flee for safety, security officials said.

Officials said two soldiers were injured in the exchange that was triggered when gunmen belonging to the Jund al-Sham militant group opened fire on the soldiers for searching a van full of veiled schoolgirls. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The clashes also were sparked by the army’s search of a wanted militant in the Taamir neighborhood of the southern city of Sidon, close to the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh, the officials said.

Several hundred residents fled the neighborhood, some taking refuge in nearby mosques.

The security officials said the schoolgirls’ van had stopped at an army checkpoint, and the girls were asked to lift their face veils during a security search.

Sometimes, like this morning, the jund’s attacks seem entirely opportunistic:

Militants fight Lebanese troops outside refugee camp in southern Lebanon

(from the International Herald Tribune, January 25, 2007)

SIDON, Lebanon: Islamic militants on Thursday fired mortars and rocket-propelled grenades at Lebanese troops as they deployed outside a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon, forcing hundreds of civilians to flee, security officials said.

The soldiers fired back at the Jund al-Sham militants in an exchange that lasted about 10 minutes outside the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp near the southern port of Sidon, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

There was no immediate word of casualties.

It was not clear why the Jund al-Sham, an extremist Muslim group, opened fire. Two weeks previously there was a similar exchange between members of Jund al-Sham and the national army near Ein el-Hilweh in which two soldiers were wounded.

Who knows what they hope to accomplish. Their actions only mean more chaos for a country already subject to the whims of too many men with guns at their disposal.

The Radio Nour reporter was speaking over the sounds of gunfire and distressed civilians; it was quite sad to hear. Palestinians are largely un-loved in Lebanon (unlike in Syria, where support for the Palestinian cause is automatic but sincere), where they face not only discrimination but legal prohibitions on their employment in most private and public sector spheres.

Skirmishes like this do nothing to make the Lebanese more welcoming.

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