02 September 2007

Lebanon takes Nahr al-Bared camp

After over three months of clashes, the Lebanese army has taken the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp, located near Tripoli. The rebel group Fatah al-Islam, which had been holed up in the camp, seems to be in disarray. Its leader, Shaker al-Abssi, has reportedly been killed, while its surviving members have fled the camp. In all, 37 rebels and five Lebanese soldiers were killed in a battle on 1 September.

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has declared victory "over the terrorists, those who sought chaos, destruction and tragedies for Lebanon." The army has planted Lebanese flags over the camp, and Siniora has promised to reopen the camp, saying, however, that in future the camp would be run exclusively under Lebanese authority (BBC).

I hope the Lebanese army's success is permanent, and a clone of Fatah al-Islam does not appear in the camp in a few weeks' time. The best thing to do, of course, would be to give the refugees Lebanese citizenship, and integrate them into the local population. That is not, however, something that any Arab state other than Jordan has been willing to contemplate.

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