UNRWA and also a Syria report
12/28/2009 11:45:07 AM PST replied
UNRWA - Its Link to Terror and HAMAS (back)
December 10, 2009
by Yoav Sorek
The Israeli Initiative
As we mentioned last week, UNRWA claims to be a neutral organization, but has proven time and again to be a puppet of the Palestinian National movement and of terror. In this chapter, we will specify how UNRWA is linked to these dangerous groups.
UNRWA As a Support for the Palestinian National Movement
Even if UNRWA was not directly connected to terrorist groups, its existence would be enough to support Palestinian Nationalism. Since UNRWA does not rehabilitate refugees, it perpetuates the refugee situation, by providing many refugees with relatively comfortable conditions: housing in the camps, education, medical care and other welfare services.
The refugees are an essential part of the Palestinian National narrative; Palestinian leaders have insisted on the ‘right of return’ since the movement’s inception. This card has been played to block Israeli attempts to bring peace time and again. As long as UNRWA is around to maintain the refugee problem, there cannot be a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Palestinians can continue in their war against ‘the Zionist entity.’
UNRWA admits, and is even proud, that it identifies politically with the Palestinian National Movement. In 2004, former commissioner-general Peter Hansen said that, while UNRWA is supposed to be ‘above the fray’ and not political, he found that in ‘good conscience [he] cannot turn a blind eye’ to his perceived infringement of the refugees’ human rights by Israel. According to Hansen, it comes down to ‘human rights’ as opposed to ‘simple assistance.’
The current commissioner-general, Karen Abu-Zayd, has the same approach. She has spoken out in an unbalanced matter, which has generated negative PR, causing grave damage to Israel’s image. A recent example of UNRWA’s politicization is a one-man play written by and starring UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, in which he accuses the IDF of using illegal white phosphorus to bomb a warehouse in Gaza. This behavior moves UNRWA out of the realm of humanitarian aid and squarely in the political arena.
The UNRWA-terror link is not a new problem. Over 25 years ago, Lebanese ambassador to the UN Edward Ghorra complained that UNRWA camps in Lebanon had been taken over by terrorists. Soon after, UNRWA released a detailed report which described how its educational institute at Siblian, near Beirut, had become a military training base for PLO fighters.
In recent years, similar connections have been found in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. IDF incursions into camps as a part of Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, as a response to the second Intifada, revealed that UNRWA camps were filled with explosive labs, arms factories and suicide bombing cells.
One camp, Jenin, received more attention than others, when the IDF was met with strong resistance from terrorists located there in April 2002. A report to Marwan Barghouti, the head of the Tanzim, the military wing of Fatah, described the UNRWA camp as ‘characterized by an exceptional presence of fighters who take the initiative [to perform] nationalist activitiesThey are ready for self-sacrifice by any means. It is not surprising that Jenin [is nicknamed] the suiciders’ capital [A’simat Al-Istashidin, in Arabic]’
UNRWA administrators claim to be unaware of terrorist activities in the camps. Karen Abu-Zayd, for example, declared: ‘We just don’t see anything like this.’ It is unfeasible that camps could become ‘suiciders’ capitals’ without the knowledge of UNRWA personnel. These denials imply, at best, turning a blind eye, and at worst, implicit consent.
Terrorist Domination of UNRWA Labor Unions
It seems unlikely that UNRWA’s administration would not know about terrorist activities in their camps, when Hamas is the leading party in refugee-camp elections. The various UNRWA labor unions (teachers, civil service and general UNRWA workers) hold elections every three years to elect 27 representatives. The PLO, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine all run for seats; all of these parties, except for the PLO, are on the European Union’s and the United States’ list of terrorist groups. Hamas has dominated UNRWA’s unions in the Gaza Strip since 1990, often winning all 11 seats in the UNRWA teachers’ union, giving them complete control of education. Results for the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’s parent organization, have been similar in Jordan and Lebanon.
Senior UNRWA officials have openly supported Palestinians’ armed campaign against the State of Israel. In 2008, Amir Al-Misehal, the head of the UNRWA civil service sector stated ‘what was taken by force will only be restored by force and not by peace or resolutions.’ Karen Abu-Zayd attended and spoke at the same event. The UNRWA workers’ union in Jordan announced their solidarity with the Palestinian people, and decided that every worker would contribute one day’s salary to the families of suicide bombers. The funds were transferred through UNRWA’s Relief and Social Services department.
When UNRWA’s administration started monitoring workers, the unions issued a statement opposing these activities. Union heads refused to report on UNRWA teachers’ terrorist activities, and wrote letters calling on John Ging, then-director of UNRWA’s operations, to reinstate teachers who had been fired on suspicion of links to terror. In addition, in a 2005 event honoring 100 teachers from Khan Yunis (an UNRWA camp in Gaza) for academic excellence, an award was given to Dr. Yunes Al-Astal, who also happens to be a high-ranking Hamas official that openly preaches in favor of terrorist attacks against Israel. At the event, Khaled Madi, a teacher in UNRWA schools said ‘those worthy of being honored are the teachers who sacrificed their lives for the sake of Allah and the homeland,’ and proceeded to list ‘shaheeds’ (martyrs) who taught in UNRWA schools.
This is only a fraction of the examples of cooperation between UNRWA and terrorists. There are long lists of teachers and other workers for UNRWA that are active members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Fatah, Al-Qassam Brigades, Al-Aqsa Brigades, and other known terrorist groups.
UNRWA in Gaza and Terror Groups: The Connection. Center for Near East Policy Research, Ltd., Jerusalem. 3242009.
Kushner, Arlene, UNRWA: Overview and Policy Critique. Center for Near East Policy Research, Ltd., Jerusalem. November, 2008.
Appeasement Policy towards Syria Not Working (back)
December 26, 2009
LONDON — The shifting sands in Syria’s geopolitical neighborhood has strengthened its ties to Iran, a relationship that is unlikely to be affected by Western incentives.
A report by the International Crisis Group asserted that Syria would not sever its strategic alliance with Iran. ICG, regarded as close to the European foreign policy establishment, said the regime of President Bashar Assad would try to balance relations with Iran and Turkey.
‘Teheran remains a valued and indispensable partner, especially in a context of regional uncertainty,’ the report, titled ‘Reshuffling the Cards: Syria’s Evolving Strategy,’ said. ‘The long relationship provides military assets and security cooperation, as well as diplomatic leverage in dealing with Western and Arab countries.’
The report said Syria’s relationship with Iran has enabled Damascus to resist neighboring Iraq and pressure by other Sunni regimes. ICG said Teheran has also benefited the Assad regime, beset by economic woes and regional tension.
‘As long as Syria’s environment remains unsettled, in short, it will maintain strong ties to Iran; at the same time, it will seek to complement that relationship with others — Turkey, France, and now Saudi Arabia — to broaden its strategic portfolio and to signal a possibly different future,’ the report said.
ICG said little was known of the decision-making within the Assad regime.
The report cited Assad’s roots in the Alawite minority, hated by the Sunni majority and fearful of being seen as capitulating to either Israel or the West.
‘From Syria’s vantage point, there is good reason to cling to the status quo,’ the report said. ‘For almost four decades, it has served Damascus well. Despite a turbulent and often hostile neighbourhood, the regime has proved resilient. It has used ties to various groups and states to amass political and material assets, acquiring a regional role disproportionate to its actual size or resources. One does not readily forsake such allies or walk away from such a track record.’
In contrast, Assad regards Turkey as a facilitator of Syria’s economy. The report said Assad sees Turkey as a means for increased tourism, investment and regional cooperation dominated by Syria.
Syria’s President Bashar Assad, right, welcomes Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri at the Teshrin presidential palace in Damascus on Dec. 19. Reuters/Khaled al-Hariri
‘Damascus’s relationships to Ankara and Teheran differ in ways that are fundamental and that offer instructive insights on both,’ the report said. ‘Iran supplies military hardware to Syria, which in turn serves as a corridor for Hizbullah-bound weapons. Other alleged areas of collaboration include Iranian support for Syria’s internal security apparatus and the construction of a nuclear facility currently under investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency.’
The report said Iran has become a key weapons supplier to Syria in wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992. Still, Teheran has not become Syria’s sponsor, and Iranian missiles have not overcome Israel’s strategic superiority.
‘For Damascus, Teheran remains an indispensable partner in a context of ongoing regional instability and strategic uncertainty,’ the report said. ‘The relationship provides much-needed military hardware; diplomatic leverage in dealing with Western and Arab countries. The partnership with Ankara serves separate purposes.’
Meanwhile, a report by the American Enterprise Institute said the Obama administration has failed to nudge Syria away from Iran’s orbit and toward that of so-called moderate Arab states. Authored by resident scholar and former Pentagon official Michael Rubin, the report said Damascus continues to serve as Iran’s facilitator throughout the Levant.
‘There is no evidence, however, that the State Department’s engagement policy has worked,’ the report, titled ‘The Enduring Iran-Syria-Hizbullah Axis.’ said. ‘Nor does it appear that Teheran and Damascus have loosened their relations.’
The report said Syria continues to proliferate weapons, particularly in allowing Iranian arms to reach Hizbullah in Lebanon. Rubin cited U.S. and Israeli interdictions of Iranian weapons shipments to Syria in 2009.
‘The Obama administration would like to move Syria into the camp of more moderate Arab states, but there is scant evidence that Syria is willing to give up its support for terrorist organizations,’ the report said. ‘Like Iran, it remains a destabilizing and dangerous force in the region.’
‘Given both the circumstances and the stakes, it is ironic that U.S. officials continue to accept the fiction of Syrian sincerity,’ the report said. ‘As difficult as stopping terrorist supplies may be, the likelihood that proxy groups will voluntarily forfeit their capability is low, and the cost of allowing terrorists to use such arms is high.’
The report, released as the White House resumed its dialogue with Damascus, said Iran and Syria continue to employ Hizbullah and other proxies against Israel and other rivals in the Middle East. Syria was also said to have been helping Hizbullah prepare for a new war with the Jewish state.
‘Iran may be Hizbullah’s chief patron, but Syria is the lynchpin that makes Iranian support for foreign fighters possible,’ the report said. ‘While Israel may be the immediate target of the Iran-Syria nexus, the partnership threatens broader U.S. interests.’
The report said additional Iranian weapons to Syria might move through Turkey. In 2009, Syria and Turkey increased border cooperation as well as embarked on their first military exercises.
‘The Turkish route into Syria may become more important as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan tightens relations with both Teheran and Damascus,’ the report said.
Source: http://www.geostrategy-direct.com/geostrategy-direct/secure/ 2009/12_30/do.asp