Sunday, March 4, 2007
The fools of PA Chairman Abbas' guard standing in formation outside his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
"Forces loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the ruling Hamas movement are pushing ahead with expansion plans despite a unity government deal, Palestinian and Western officials said.
Workmen in the West Bank city of Jericho said they have stepped up construction of a 16-acre base for Abbas's presidential guard and are putting the finishing touches to a "college" for his intelligence service.
Since the power-sharing deal between Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas Islamists was signed on February 8 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the presidential guard has set up a makeshift camp on newly-appropriated land next to the Karni commercial crossing in Gaza and has started training rerecruits there.
"This is a military base that needs money to be equipped, whether there is Mecca or not," a presidential guard commander said as shirtless recruits marched in formation behind him. "We have no lack of human resources but we lack equipment. Hamas has mortar bombs. Hamas has rockets. We don't have that."
The Islamic militant group Hamas has likewise been busy building up its own "executive force" to 12,000 members, double the current size. "We are working hard to accomplish that," spokesman Islam Shahwan said.
Zakaria al-Qaq, a security expert at al-Quds University, said the unity government deal between Fatah and Hamas political leaders may have stemmed factional fighting for now, but there was little trust between rival forces in the field.
"The Mecca agreement may look good, but on the ground it's not doable. The mobilization is still the same, the preparation is still the same, on both sides," he said.
Israeli intelligence services believe Hamas is stockpiling weapons for another round of fighting, either with Fatah or Israel, according to government officials.
"We're getting our money," a contractor at the presidential guard base in Jericho said as workers used a steamroller to level the new training grounds. The contractor said major construction work at the site should be completed in a month, but it was unclear when the new recruits would arrive.
Across from the ruins of Jericho's 8th century Hisham's Palace, the new "Security Sciences College" is close to opening its doors. Abbas's intelligence service has started placing job ads in local newspapers and hopes to begin classes this summer....."
Don't stop the celebrations for FAMAS, just pretend that Abbas is really a "Palestinian" president.