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Abbas Versus Dahlan

By Khalid Amayreh

PIC, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March 24, 2014


Abbas and Dahlan

It is a little appealing to let PA leader Mahmoud Abbas and former Fatah strong man in Gaza Muhammed Dahlan batter each other in public as they have been doing recently.
In the final analysis, both don't belong to the realm of saints, to put it extremely mildly.
For his part, Abbas is not the kind of leader who particularly values truth, transparency.
Moreover, it is also highly likely that his "presidency" is involved in a substantial degree of corruption, including nepotism and favoritism.
The reportedly huge wealth his sons have amassed since he became president following Yasser Arafat's death in 2004, raises compelling questions as to the wanton corruption permeating through PA institutions.
The very least one could argue is that the principle of equal opportunity was not always considered when Abbas's sons were involved in winning tenders and business contracts from the PA government.
Politically, there is also compelling evidence that Mahmoud Abbas is not the ideal nationalistic leader who would not compromise inalienable Palestinian rights, especially the paramount right of return for millions of Palestinians expelled from their ancestral homeland in 1948 at the hands of Jewish invaders from Eastern Europe.
The remarks he made last year that he wouldn't exercise his right to return to his hometown of Safad went decidedly against national Palestinian consensus and further emboldened Israel to reject the repatriation of the refugees.
Having said that, I believe that Abbas is not the ultimate evil man Muhammed Dahlan wants to convince us he is.
Last week, Abbas told Fatah's revolutionary council that he wouldn't conclude his life with betraying the Palestinian national cause. That was probably the best thing Abbas has ever said.
We would like to see the PA leader stick to his words, because if he doesn't, everyone, including Abbas and us, will suffer rather immensely and our enemies, Israel will be the ultimate winner.
Finally, we have to be honest and give Abbas credit for the fact that the rift between Fatah and Hamas didn't evolve into an internecine civil war as has been the case in Syria and Egypt. Indeed, had Abbas behaved like Bashar el-Assad and Abdul Fattah al-Sissi, we would have seen the streets of Gaza and the West Bank overflow with Palestinian blood.
True, credit for this should be given to many people, including Hamas. However, Abbas, too, ought to be lauded for his non-convulsive approach to Hamas.
He should also be praised for suppressing gung-ho Fatah leaders, especially Dahlan, who wanted to stoke the fire of civil war and "be it as it may."
Needless to say, had Abbas allowed Dahlan to have his way, perhaps another Palestinian Nakba would have befallen the Palestinian people.
Dahlan: The irredeemable thug
I have no doubt in my mind that Muhammed Dahlan is a key Israeli agent at the Palestinian arena.  At the very least, he has been acting like one.
His mission has always been to fight the Islamists and destabilize political life in the occupied territories, all on Israel's behalf.
Several years ago I wrote the following on Dahlan's role in sabotaging the fledgling Palestinian democracy, especially after Hamas defeated Fatah in the 2006 elections.
(As a confidante of Yasser Arafat, Dahlan was entrusted with the difficult task of routing or weakening Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which Dahlan carried out to the best of his ability, with the help of his deputy, Rashid Abu Shbak. Dahlan's men are widely believed to have employed extremely cruel and "hair-raising torture methods" against Islamist leaders, including Mahmoud Al-Zahhar and the late Abdel-Aziz Al-Rantisi.
When Hamas unexpectedly won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, Dahlan, who was at the zenith of his power, warned his fellow Fatah lawmakers that, "I will deal roughly with anyone opting to cooperate with Hamas". He also vowed to make Hamas "eat shit", claiming the Islamist movement should understand that "giving sermons in the mosques is one thing while running a country is quite another thing.")
In 2008, US magazine Vanity Fair published what seemed to be a meticulously researched expose showing that Dahlan actively conspired with the Bush administration to topple the democratically elected government of Hamas in the occupied territories. The lengthy article, based on confidential documents corroborated by intelligence sources, spoke of a covert US operation, approved by president George W. Bush and implemented by secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to provoke a Palestinian civil war.
"With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current US officials, David Rose reveals how president Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force [operation] under Fatah strongman Mohamed Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.
Dahlan worked closely with the FBI and the CIA, and he developed a warm relationship with CIA Director George Tenet, a Clinton appointee who stayed on under Bush until July 2004."
In 2001, president Bush famously said that he had looked Russian president Vladimir Putin in the eye, gotten "a sense of his soul," and found him to be "trustworthy". According to three US officials quoted by Vanity Fair, Bush made a similar judgment about Dahlan when they first met, in 2003. All three officials recall hearing Bush say, "He's our guy."
Dahlan has argued repeatedly that all his dealings with the CIA and neoconservative figures such as Abrams were not secret and were done in close coordination with Abbas. Abbas's people concur, at least in part, but insist that Dahlan would have been willing to go to any extent to satisfy his self-inflated ego and unlimited ambitions.
Dahlan, who once described himself as akroot, which can mean "survivalist" or "thug", has often accused his detractors of hypocrisy and moral duplicity. "Do you really think the one who embezzled a hundred million dollars is qualified to judge petty thieves who might have embezzled a few hundred dollars?"
Today, Dahlan continues with his dirty role, not only against the Palestinian people and their just cause, but also against Egypt and revolutionary forces in the Arab world.
His shameless vilification of the Muslim Brotherhood, along with his demeaning sycophancy to the bloody coup authorities  in Cairo caricature a man with cheap character and very little morality and virtually with no conscience or rectitude. Such a man is a disaster upon himself and his people.




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