Some 18,000 Palestinians are trapped in the Yarmouk refugee camp in the Syrian capital Damascus, as battles rage between Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Isis.
The history of Yarmouk shows how the suffering of the Palestinians has been shaped by imperialism in the Middle East.
The camp was set up in 1957 to house refugees who had been expelled from their homes in Palestine after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
It has since grown into a vast, impoverished slum.
Palestinians in Yarmouk rose up against the Assad regime as part of the Syrian revolution in 2011.
They protested against regime-affiliated groups inside the camp. And they took in Syrians fleeing government repression.
The regime responded by laying siege to the camp, pounding it with barrel bombs.
The dire conditions caused by the assault forced most of the camp’s residents to flee—its population falling from around 200,000 to 18,000 today.
Those that remained are trapped between two counter-revolutions, with the regime on one side and Isis on the other.
Isis is a purely reactionary force—its claims that it is “liberating” the camp are false.
But the responsibility for the growth of Isis lies with the West. The collapse of the Arab revolutions, and the sectarianism in Iraq fostered by the US after the invasion of 2003, created space in which Isis could grow.
Now Palestinians are paying the price.