Hazem Saghiyeh
NOW Lebanon (Opinion)
June 25, 2012 - 12:00am

The Nahr al-Bared ordeal epitomizes the ordeal befalling Lebanon as a whole, including with regard to the Palestinian issue.

The Nahr al-Bared camp, which is still witnessing the same long-term misery and marginalization added to destruction that was not followed by the promised reconstruction, summarizes the situation of the Palestinian “community” in Lebanon. However, it also epitomizes the inability of the sectarian regime, which is extremely attached to “balances,” to take any useful step in dealing with the Nahr al-Bared ordeal (and others as well).

At the same time, the camp inhabitants (and those of other camps as well) provide a wealth of human resources that can be used as one pleases. The Syrian regime was always the primary beneficiary, either directly or through its “allies," such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and Fatah al-Islam. Needless to say, this exploitation is wholly unrelated to the Palestinian cause or to the social causes of the Palestinians.

A modicum of wisdom implies that addressing such a situation starts by separating the population of the camp from those seeking to exploit it. This does not take place through force, violence and destruction, but rather through development plans and a culture of openness to the camp and its inhabitants, which would draw them closer instead of pushing them away and excluding them.

During the 1960s, President Fouad Chehab’s doctrine faced a similar problem when the Syrian regime was exploiting some inhabitants in border regions in the Bekaa and Akkar. The remedy was in consolidating ties between these regions and the center in Beirut and creating elements to attract them inland rather than to push them away. In this respect, priority was granted to development programs, including communication networks, water, electricity, schools, etc.

However, the state under President Chehab, which was stronger than religious communities, is not the same as today’s state. In theory, the state is the only party that is qualified to initiate the major transformation in the relationship with the Palestinian camps. However, the state is, beyond any comparison, weaker than any religious community or group.

Accordingly, we stand before the same problem as in any other major Lebanese crisis: There is no solution but the state and there is no state to provide a solution.


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