Some say he fled to Mediterranean coastal Syrian city of Tartous, others say it’s somewhere else in Syria, but the head of the Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed Jibril, is indeed an unforgettable face, remembered and will always be remembered by Palestinians, Syrians and the Lebanese people.
Ahmed Jibril is the man who was always at the forefront of the colonial ambitions of Hafez al-Assad’s regime.
This man who started his career as an officer at the Syrian army, wasn’t a follower of the Baath party,, so he wasn’t an follower of the principles of the Assad and Baathist regime.
Although the Syrian regime had supported Jibril and put him at the forefront of the Palestinian political elite, no one can claim creating his presence from scratch, like “Fatah Al-intifada” who defected from “Fatah” and “Palestine Liberation Organization” and created their own group. Jibril was active since 1965 when he founded the Palestine Liberation Front.
He wasn’t neither a hit man nor a mercenary, like his colleague Sabri Al-Banna (Abu Nidal) was. His military doctrine as well as his organization remained pro-Syrian throughout the years. Even when he used to carry out operations in the name of Libya’s Qaddafi or others, he would be executing orders emanating from Damascus.
This commitment to Syria has always opposed him to Yasser Arafat, the advocate of an “independent national Palestinian decision,” and this same commitment urged him to defect from the Damascus-based Palestinian faction Palestine which became a Palestinian Sufi group or a political elite. He wasn’t attracted as well to intellectual circles of the “popular democratic front” as he never lost direction towards the heart of a “pragmatic” Assad and his regime.
Ahmad Jibril is symbolic of Syrian support for the Palestinian cause. He is the symbol of true conviction in the importance of this policy. This is a fact that doesn’t need to be justified by any nationalistic exaggeration of the type that was clear within his peers who used to see Palestine as the south of Syria, or that both Palestine and Syria are part of “a unified Arab state.”
His stance was the same in any Palestinian conflict with the Syrian regime: he was against Arafat, against Habash, against the refugees of Yarmouk Camp. In recognition of Jibril’s unprecedented loyalty, he was given a small but effective role within the Syria and Iran-sponsored Lebanese resistance strategy. This small partnership with Hezbollah wasn’t to support any Palestinians or Lebanese people pro the Assad regime.
Ahmed Jibril spent many years of his life (75 years) playing this role. His secrets were uncovered and the battles in Palestine were full of bloodshed and led him to many places, except Palestine.
The Palestinian political elite should really ask themselves this burning question: how comes, in the name of Palestine and its cause, that a phenomenon like Ahmed Jibril was created and nurtured? And should such a person remain in a leadership position over many decades?
Answering this question might reveal the real trick that was deceiving Palestinians over the years in the name of their cause. Revealing that secret will coincide with the killing of the Palestinian kids at Yarmouk Camp, while Jibril fled to a safe place, which is safe until now.
(Hazem Saghieh is a columnist at al-Hayat, where this article was published on Dec. 18, 2012)