Sunday, September 3, 2006


One good man surrounded by 500 idle workers

"However, as opposed to during Arafat's speeches, the demonstrators did not hesitate to interrupt the Palestinian leader. As usual, the PA chair said the right things, but most of those present understood his words were meaningless. The demonstrators, like many of the residents of the territories, see Abbas (Abu Mazen) as the great disappointment of Palestinian politics. About a year and seven months after his election, Abu Mazen's status is weaker than ever. In many senses, the Palestinian leader has fulfilled the Israeli prophecy, which saw him as irrelevant. "You called him a plucked chicken" [a reference to a comment by former prime minister Ariel Sharon], said a senior member of Tanzim on the West Bank this week, "but during the past year we have discovered that he simply does not want to take off."

A former adviser to the PA chair, who has resigned, says that "the problem of Abu Mazen and the Fatah leadership is the bell mentality. There is no organized plan, there is no strategy. Everything is impromptu, according to the ringing of the bell. The assistant who prepares coffee or lights a cigarette for Abu Mazen is the same person who will put him on the line with the U.S. Secretary of State. There are over 500 people working in Abu Mazen's office at present, not including the security people. None of them works according to an organized plan or vision. They all sit idle most of the day waiting for the leader to tell them what to do."

Most of the anger of the Tanzim leaders in Fatah is directed at the group of advisers appointed by Abu Mazen, while they were pushed aside. In the words of an associate of Marwan Barghouti, a senior Fatah official who is imprisoned in Israel, "that's a surprising step, bordering on scandal. Every person who is identified with corruption in Fatah was appointed to an official position in the president's bureau."

"Why only outsiders? Ask him. Maybe because of their common mentality, the familiar jokes and their simple demands of Abu Mazen. They won't ask for reforms in Fatah, only for money."

"Sharon proposed as a gesture to Abu Mazen, who was the prime minister of the PA at the time, to withdraw from all the cities of the West Bank and to deploy around them. Abu Mazen refused and told Sharon that it was too early. Arik said that he had never encountered such a measured and responsible reaction from an Arab leader."

In Arab countries as well, and mainly in Egypt and Jordan, there is disappointment with Abu Mazen for not demonstrating leadership. On the other hand, American diplomats call the PA chairman "a president of promises." According to Abu Mazen's former adviser, "he will never say no to the Americans. He received this nickname because he will always make promises, but he will never keep them."

"You have to understand that the PA is falling apart. The question of who will follow Abu Mazen is irrelevant; the question is 'What comes next?' The leader is interested in a national unity government, although it is not expected to solve the problems of the Palestinian public if it does not accept the conditions of the United States."

A senior Egyptian official said, "All the talk about the fact that he is not a real leader is simply incorrect. He was the only Palestinian leader who opposed the armed intifada. Such courage proves what exceptional leadership is.""

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