[Marxism] Palestinians face threats, violence from Shia militias in Iraq

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Mar 25 16:42:49 MST 2006

One issue this raises for me stems from the fact that Shia-Kurd led
government and militias in Iraq have two international supporters, not
just one: The lesser, by definition, since it does not occupy the
country, is Iran.  The second is the occupying power, the United States,
which views the Iranian influence as a threat to their interests in
But what does the Iranian government think about this practice?  We know
that Washington approves of anything that weakens Palestinians, or makes
them feel weaker and more beleaguered. They are no fools, and this is an
area of common interest with Israel, which is completely dependent on
Washington (along with contributions through other imperialist powers).
But what about Iran?  What do they think? Will this come up at the
Iran-US talks.  I would suggest that Iran (hints at holocaust denial and
threats to drive the Jewsinto the sea notwithstanding, may choose to
treat the anti_Palestinian acts, even if they had nothing to do with
them directly,  as an implicit hint of what Washington can get if it
accepts Iranian power and nuclear energy ambitions as a fact of life in
the region, rather than threatening to destroy the country, or to defend
Israel,if it launches massive bombing raids against allegedly nuclear
and nuclear-related sites, against Iranian defense or counter-strikes.  
The Iranian government has a quite open mind at the core about the
Palestine issue.  The Iran-contra dealings, while Khomeini was alive,
highlights this fact.   
And none of this would necessarily contradict or cancel out or even end
Iran's aid to Hamas which is positive in the face of the imperialist
boycott of the clear winners of a democratic election -- the clear
choice at this time of an oppressed people about who should be their
I think Washington will not give us the opportunity to find out whether
Iran is open to such an agreement, based on giving ground to their
progressive insistence on Iranian sovereignty.  I think the US
representatives, assuming they haven't gone off their uppers, will
hardass the Iranians as part of laying the groundwork for the planned
attacks, and make them only offers they can only refuse.
Fred Feldman
New York Times
March 25, 2006

As Palestinians Wait at Iraqi Border, Others Get Threats 

e/index.html?inline=nyt-per> KIRK SEMPLE

s/iraq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo> Iraq, March 24 — The bill of death
appeared overnight, scattered on doorsteps and littering the sidewalk.
It was addressed to "the Palestinian traitors." 

"We warn you that we will eliminate you all if you don't leave the area
for good within 10 days," the leaflet said. It bore the signature of a
group called the Judgment Day Battalion, and the Palestinian residents
of Hurriya, a northern Baghdad neighborhood, found it when they awoke
Thursday morning.

"We are ready to leave Iraq — if we have the chance," a Palestinian
resident said Friday, declining to provide his name because of fear of
retribution. "This is the opinion of everyone here. We feel unsafe, and
today is better than tomorrow." 

The Palestinian community was once a pet cause of
sein/index.html?inline=nyt-per> Saddam Hussein, who granted its members
special treatment. But now, its members say, they are suffering the
backlash of that favoritism, and are singled out for being Sunni Arabs. 

As sectarian killings have intensified in the past several weeks, the
Palestinians have been frequent targets of Shiite death squads, some in
the uniforms of government security forces, several Palestinians said in
interviews this week. Scores have been pulled from their homes in
Palestinian enclaves around the capital, residents said, and many have
turned up dead in the morgue.

The Palestinian observer to the
ted_nations/index.html?inline=nyt-org> United Nations has appealed to
the Security Council for help, and the office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees has warned of the potential for a crisis.

Many Palestinian families "are in a state of shock and panic," according
to a statement from the refugee agency distributed Friday. "This panic
may spread and lead to more Palestinians fleeing Baghdad." Many
Palestinians pulled their children from schools and stopped going to
work, the statement said. 

Violence has afflicted every community in Iraq, which has suffered
increased sectarian bloodshed since a major Shiite mosque in Samarra was
bombed last month. 

Insurgent attacks on Friday killed 12 people. One attack involved an
improvised bomb that killed 5 worshipers and wounded 17 as they left a
Sunni Arab mosque in Khalis, about 35 miles east of Baghdad. The
American military reported that two soldiers died in combat in Anbar
Province on Thursday. 

And the authorities recovered 15 more bodies from the streets of Baghdad
on Friday, the latest victims in a wave of mysterious slayings. More
than 200 bodies — most bound, some blindfolded and all either shot in
the head or garroted — have been discovered in less than three weeks in
the Baghdad area, according to the Interior Ministry. 

Some victims have been Palestinians, relatives said in interviews, and
community members insist they are targets because of their special
relationship with Mr. Hussein and their sectarian allegiances. 

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian observer to the United Nations, said in a
letter to the Security Council on Thursday that 10 Palestinians were
killed and several kidnapped in the previous week alone. He appealed for
international intervention to protect the Palestinians in Iraq. 

The United Nations estimates that 34,000 Palestinians live in Iraq, and
many were born in the country. They were given safe harbor during
successive regional crises, beginning with the Arab-Israeli war of 1948.

Mr. Hussein, as part of his campaign to fashion himself into a pan-Arab
leader, was particularly solicitous of their support. He provided many
with free schooling, and free or heavily subsidized housing. But he did
not give them the right to own property or the right to citizenship —
legal restrictions that remain.

With the fall of Mr. Hussein, many Palestinians were driven from their
homes by property owners whose houses had been appropriated by Mr.
Hussein. Others came under attack by resentful Iraqis. 

Several Palestinians interviewed Friday said the latest generation of
violent persecution began last year. At first it was gradual: an
unexplained detention here, an assassination there. But since the
bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra on Feb. 22, violence against
Palestinians, particularly in Baghdad, has greatly increased, community
members say. 

"Now any Palestinian, whether a child or an adult, thinks of himself as
a target," said Ali Hussein, 66, a resident of an housing complex for
poor Palestinians in Baladiyat, in eastern Baghdad.

Another Baladiyat resident, Fatma Ahmed, said her husband was dragged
from his barber shop on Jan. 15 by armed men and driven away. His family
found his body in a morgue in March with gunshots to the head and
torture wounds on his body. 

Sitting in her small apartment in the squalid housing complex, Ms.
Ahmed, a heavyset woman with sad eyes, presented a reporter with a
two-page typed testimony to her husband's life and unexplained death.
"He was known as a hard worker and serious man," the document said, "and
his only crime was being Palestinian." 

On March 14, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, António
Guterres, sent a letter to President Jalal Talabani expressing his
concern about reports of violence against Palestinians, and "the limited
capacity of the Iraqi security forces to provide effective protection,"
according to Astrid van Genderen Stort, a spokeswoman for the refugee
agency. Mr. Guterres suggested the creation of "a special protection
office" in areas populated by Palestinians. 

Last Sunday, 89 Palestinians from enclaves around Baghdad arrived at the
Jordanian border in two buses seeking refuge. They were turned back by
the Jordanian authorities, who closed the border on Monday, and they
remained stranded for several days between the Iraqi and Jordanian
border posts, a Jordanian government spokesman said.

On Wednesday, the Iraqi government moved them to an Iraqi camp near the
border, where the United Nations refugee agency delivered supplies and
food. Jordan reopened the border early Thursday, according to Nasser
Judeh, a Jordanian spokesman.

The group is "adamant" that it does not want to remain in Iraq,
according to a statement from United Nations agency. "They said the
killings, disappearance and hostage-taking, affecting their families,
neighbors and friends, had become intolerable." 

Neighbors and relatives of those in the group say they are watching what
happens on the border before they decide whether they, too, will try to
flee. But they also said they feared the consequences of staying put. 

A Palestinian laborer and resident of Hurriya said the posted death
threats have made waiting unbearable. "The countdown has begun," he

Hosham Hussein and Iraqi employees of The New York Times contributed
reporting for this article.

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