The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

a plague upon them

One of the little devices that helps me get through the month is ticking up how many stories in the Atlantic Monthly annoy me. When I hit a certain number (yet to be determined), I'm going to cancel my subscription.

This piece scored a tick.

Headlined “Carriers of conflict� it outlines one of the unpleasant side effects of America’s most recent military adventure: the mass movement of people out of Iraq.

Now, there’s some interesting factoids in the piece. 700,000 Iraqi refugees now in Jordan? A quick Google doesn't make it clear where this number comes from. UNHCR? Right. A year ago apparently they had recognized 800. Last year the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants put the number at 450,000 and noted the inflow was increasing. But anyway, there's a hell of a lot of them.

The annoying part comes in the intro, where authors Dan Byman and Ken Pollack pontificate on the root cause of instability and violence in the Middle East:
where large numbers of refugees go, instability and war closely follow... Palestinian refugees, who with their descendants number in the millions, have been a source of regional violence and regime change for decades.

Ouch! According to the Byman and Pollock, these wanton troublemakers:
helped provoke the 1956 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars [then] turned against their hosts and catalyzed a civil war in Jordan (1970–71) and in Lebanon (1975–90) [and, like that wasn’t enough shit disturbing] … contributed to coups by militant Arab nationalists in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria.

Wow. Busy little pests those Palestinians. I think they caused the plumbing in my building to get all gummed up last week as well.

Oddly, Israel is mentioned only once in the discussion of Palestinian refugees (as a victim of Palestinian aggression!) and the US is never mentioned at all in the discussion of Iraqi refugees.

But on second thought, it's not really odd is it?

Make that two ticks.