Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Where in the world is Muhammad Dahlan?

Contributed by Lucia

".....In recent weeks Hamas officials and spokesmen have stepped up their rhetorical attacks on Dahlan, comparing him to Antoine Lahad, the former commander of the pro-Israeli South Lebanon Army.....

But Dahlan's status has been severely undermined over the past few months, largely because many of his Fatah allies and colleagues have either been killed or wounded or driven out of the Gaza Strip.

Last month, one of Dahlan's key allies, Gen. Rashid Abu Shabak, resigned as commander of the PA security forces in the Gaza Strip after Hamas militiamen stormed his villa and executed six of his bodyguards. Abu Shabak and his family have since moved to the West Bank. Another key Dahlan ally, Samir Masharawi, has also disappeared from the Gaza Strip and is believed to be hiding in Ramallah.......

Some Americans, Israelis and Europeans have long regarded the "charismatic" and "pragmatic" Dahlan as the most suitable successor to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Former US President Bill Clinton is said to have been one of his great admirers since the two met at the White House after the signing of the Oslo Accords more than a decade ago.

Abbas's decision earlier this year to promote Dahlan to the post of PA National Security adviser was seen by many Palestinians as part of a US-backed effort to strengthen Dahlan ahead of a potential confrontation with Hamas......

Dahlan has been in Cairo for the past month amid rumors that he has no intention to return to Gaza in the foreseeable future. Now that Hamas has killed many of his cohorts and friends and is threatening to eliminate him the moment he enters the Strip, Dahlan, who was one of the prominent symbols of the Oslo process, may have to seek refuge in the West Bank or one of the neighboring Arab countries."

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