Thursday, July 5, 2007

The war within Fatah

Dismissing the recent infighting in Gaza as a showdown between Fatah and Hamas only is simplifying a far more complex problem

By Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
Al-Ahram Weekly

"Tensions are growing between supporters of the American-backed Dahlan faction and the supporters of Yasser Arafat. Tensions between the two polarised camps increased dramatically last week when Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who backs Dahlan, fired veteran Fatah leader and former PA interior minister Hani Al-Hassan who had accused Dahlan of planning to murder him -- a charge which Dahlan vehemently denied.....

In addition to Abbas and Dahlan, the "moderate camp" within Fatah includes people like Ahmed Abdul-Rahman, Al-Tayeb Abdul-Rahim, Nabil Amr and security officers such General Intelligence Chief Tawfiq Tirawi.

The Arafat camp includes the bulk of veteran Fatah leaders such as the Tunis-based head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) political department, Farouk Al-Qaddoumi, Hani Al-Hassan, Jebril Rajoub, Marwan Al-Barghouti, Ahmed Hellis and militant leaders affiliated with Fatah's armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.....

The "moderate camp" has the money and the physical means to assert itself by force if necessary, at least for the time-being. However, this camp has a major strategic liability, namely a lack of support among Fatah's rank and file and, indeed, among the Palestinian masses as a whole.

Recent revelations by Hamas which allegedly implicate Dahlan in an American-backed plan to reverse the outcome of the 2006 Palestinian elections and depose of the Hamas-led national unity government by force have seriously tarnished his image and that of Abbas in the eyes of many Palestinians.

The anti-Dahlan camp, while lacking the financial resources at Dahlan's disposal, has the advantage of wide support within Fatah and even stronger public support....

One of the strongest assets the anti-Dahlan camp within Fatah is betting on is Abbas's apparent inability to extract any meaningful political concessions from Israel with regard to ending its 40-year-old occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem....."

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