In the valleys between Damascus and Lebanon, where whole communities had abandoned their lives to war, a change is taking place. For the first time since the conflict broke out, people are starting to return.The world is fixated on a very strained (and quite false) interpretation of the Geneva Conventions to damn Israel for allowing Jews to voluntarily move to their ancestral lands.
But the people settling in are not the same as those who fled during the past six years.
The new arrivals have a different allegiance and faith to the predominantly Sunni Muslim families who once lived there. They are, according to those who have sent them, the vanguard of a move to repopulate the area with Shia Muslims not just from elsewhere in Syria, but also from Lebanon and Iraq.
The population swaps are central to a plan to make demographic changes to parts of Syria, realigning the country into zones of influence that backers of Bashar al-Assad, led by Iran, can directly control and use to advance broader interests.
“Iran and the regime don’t want any Sunnis between Damascus and Homs and the Lebanese border,” said one senior Lebanese leader. “This represents a historic shift in populations.”
Senior officials in neighbouring Lebanon have been monitoring what they believe has been a systematic torching of Land Registry offices in areas of Syria recaptured on behalf of the regime. A lack of records make it difficult for residents to prove home ownership. Offices are confirmed to have been burned in Zabadani, Darayya, Syria’s fourth city, Homs, and Qusayr on the Lebanese border, which was seized by Hezbollah in early 2013.
Darkoush said whole neighbourhoods had been cleansed of their original inhabitants in Homs, and that many residents had been denied permission to return to their homes, with officials citing lack of proof that they had indeed lived there.
“The first step in the plan has been achieved,” he said. “It involved expelling the inhabitants of these areas and burning up anything which connects them to their land and homes. The second step will be replacing the original inhabitants with newcomers from Iraq and Lebanon.”
But Iran is directly violating the same article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention - and not just the part about transferring one's own population but about expelling entire populations from their homes.
And no one is saying a word.
This isn't surprising. The people who have been manipulating international law for decades to make Israel appear guilty of war crimes have no interest in applying their new laws to any other circumstance. The horrible crime of "settling" is only horrible when Israel can be claimed to be guilty, and Iran's far more egregious violations where existing residents are stripped of their rights and effectively deported to make room for the Shiite replacements are simply ignored.
All the proof you need is to realize that this Guardian article is a week and a half old and there has been no outcry by the supposed defenders of international law that attack Israel about this. Moreover, even the Guardian - which has claimed scores of times that Israel violates the Geneva Conventions by allowing Jews to live across the Green Line - doesn't mention Geneva once in this article, even though it is critical of Iran.
It is almost like international laws apply to Israel differently than to everyone else.
(h/t David G, Yoel)