I haven’t blogged on this since last weekend because not much has changed. Fatah al-Islam, the Palestinian jihadist outfit that may or may not be working with Al Qaeda to hit the U.S. and may or may not be working with Syria to terrorize Lebanon, is still holed up in the camp after days of fighting and a fragile ceasefire. The Lebanese army, after shelling the camp earlier this week, is still parked outside, bound not to enter by an agreement reached decades ago between Lebanon and the Palestinians that grants the camps a sort of sovereign status.
Ahmad Fatfat, a close confidante of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and former interior minister, said the government has asked the mainstream Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, to do what they can to resolve the situation in Nahr al-Bared. If the Palestinians can’t bring an end soon to the nearly week-old crisis, Mr. Fatfat said the Lebanese army will resume its assault on the camp, using all means at its disposal.
“If [the Palestinians] are capable of resolving the problem politically or militarily, … we’d prefer that. If they can’t, we’re obliged, the Lebanese army is obliged, to continue the battle,” Mr. Fatfat said in an interview at his apartment in the Lebanese capital. “The army has been given carte blanche to go in and finish Fatah al-Islam.”…
While top officials in the secular Fatah movement, including Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, have openly supported Mr. Siniora’s government in its battle with the fundamentalists, leaders in the Islamist Hamas have been less enthusiastic about the siege, calling for Mr. Siniora to “protect Palestinian as well as Lebanese souls.”
The IDF was supposedly given carte blanche to finish Hezbollah last summer and the U.S. military was given carte blanche to finish al-Sadr in 2004, so don’t get your hopes up. Speaking of Hezbollah, Nasrallah warned the Lebanese government today not to order an invasion, ostensibly because he doesn’t want Lebanon involved in the war on Al Qaeda but actually because he’s trying to protect the group on behalf of his Syrian patrons and also because he probably fears a spike in popular support for the Lebanese government, which he’s been trying to topple for months, if they succeed here.