Political Persuasion, Palestinian Style
Translations of this item:
The consequences in the long-term are disastrous: they embolden the radicals and help raise new generations of Arabs and Muslims on hatred and anti-Western sentiments.
Earlier this week, Hussam Khader, a prominent Fatah activist, woke up to the sounds of gunfire outside his home in the Balata refugee camp in the northern West Bank.
Khader, a staunch critic of the Palestinian Authority leadership and government corruption, discovered when he walked out that his car and front door had been sprayed with more than 20 bullets.
Some of his terrified neighbors reported seeing masked gunmen fleeing the scene.
Although no group or individual claimed responsibility for the shooting attack, Khader has held Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas responsible.
Khader is convinced that Abbas or someone close to him wanted to send him a "warning message" -- namely to keep his mouth shut.
This was the third attack of its kind against prominent Fatah representatives in the past 18 months.
A few weeks ago, unidentified gunmen opened fire at the car of Majed Abu Shamaleh, an elected Fatah legislator, outside his home in Ramallah.
A third Fatah official, Shami al-Shami, who is also an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was less fortunate. Last year, he was shot and wounded near his home in Jenin.
All three Fatah representatives have one thing in common; they represent the young guard of their faction and are known to be outspoken critics of the Palestinian Authority leadership.
Palestinians see the shooting attacks in the context of a power struggle between the old guard and young guard of Abbas's ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank.
Headed by Abbas, Fatah's old guard has always sought to block the emergence of a young leadership within the faction. So far, the old guard seems to have been successful in its efforts to maintain exclusive control over the Palestinian Authority.
This power struggle surfaced after the signing of the Oslo Accords, when Yasser Arafat and the PLO and Fatah leadership moved from Tunisia and other Arab countries to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Most young guard Fatah members still feel marginalized by Abbas and his veteran loyalists.
At the age of 78, Abbas feels no need to pave the way for the rise of new and younger leaders to power.
At this stage, he and his inner circle seem determined to maintain their tight grip on the Palestinian Authority, even if that requires dispatching masked gunmen to scare their critics.
This is perhaps why there is no "Palestinian Spring" in the West Bank. When a Palestinian sees masked gunmen shooting at the cars, homes and bodies of prominent Fatah figures, he or she will think ten times before uttering a word against Abbas or a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah.
Moreover, this is what is driving an increasing number of Palestinians into the open arms of Hamas and other radical groups.
Of course none of those who carried out the three attacks against the Fatah representatives was ever caught. And there is good reason to believe they will never be apprehended or brought to trial.
The reason? The attackers, according to Palestinians, are most likely members of the Palestinian security forces or Fatah's armed wing, the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
It is one thing when Abbas uses Fatah gunmen to intimidate his critics, but it is a completely different story when he or any of his aides resort to the Western-trained and -financed security services to carry out shooting attacks.
A sign of how the Palestinian Authority leadership uses its security forces to intimidate critics was provided again this week when another Fatah operative, Sufian Abu Zayda, published an op-ed strongly denouncing Abbas's "autocratic" governance.
Abu Zayda is also considered a representative of Fatah's young guard.
His article enraged Abbas and his top aides in Ramallah. But instead of responding to the charges raised by Abu Zayda's article, Abbas's office issued a statement on behalf of the "Palestinian security establishment" threatening and condemning the Fatah representative.
"This statement is an assault on public freedoms," remarked Abu Zayda. "It would have been preferable had the [Palestinian] security establishment tried to uncover the identity of those behind the shooting attacks instead of preoccupying itself with a political essay."
Those who fund autocratic regimes apparently do not care about the long-term repercussions, so long as short-term stability can be secured. The consequences in the long-term are disastrous: they embolden the radicals and help raise new generations of Arabs and Muslims on hatred and anti-Western sentiments.
Reader comments on this item
|Shari'ia rules [78 words]||Bart Benschop||Jul 9, 2013 02:27|
|Radical, not as radical? [41 words]||Shmeelshya||Jul 3, 2013 09:52|
|Ruled with an iron fist [30 words]||Hass||Jul 3, 2013 09:04|
Comment on this item
by Khaled Abu Toameh
The "Arab Spring" did not erupt as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it was the outcome of decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world. The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis who removed their dictators from power did not do so because of the lack of a "two-state solution." This is the last thing they had in mind.
The thousands of Muslims who are volunteering to join the Islamic State [IS] are not doing so because they are frustrated with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The only solution the Islamic State believes in is a Sunni Islamic Caliphate where the surviving non-Muslims who are not massacred would be subject to sharia law.
What Kerry perhaps does not know is that the Islamic State is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all. Unlike Kerry, Sunni scholars fully understand that the Islamic State has more to do with Islam and terrorism than with any other conflict.
by Steven J. Rosen
Palestinian officials have generally been silent about security cooperation with Israel. They are loath to acknowledge how important it is for the survival of the Palestinian Authority [PA], and fear that critics, especially Hamas, will consider it "collaboration with the enemy."
"You smuggle weapons, explosives and cash to the West Bank, not for the fight with Israel, but for a coup against the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli intelligence chief visited me two weeks ago and told me about the [Hamas] group they arrested that was planning for a coup... We have a national unity government and you are thinking about a coup against me." — Mahmoud Abbas, PA President, to Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader.
According to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, if the IDF leaves the West Bank, Hamas will take over, and other terrorists groups such as the Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State would operate there.
In recent months, Abbas has been making a series of threats against Israel. If Abbas becomes another Arafat, it could be the Israeli side that loses interest in security cooperation.
by Burak Bekdil
It was the Islamists who, since they came to power in the 2000s, have reaped the biggest political gains from the "Palestine-fetish."
But the Turkish rhetoric on "solidarity" with our Palestinian brothers often seems askew to how solidarity should be.
by Raheel Raza
One blogger writes that Malala hates Pakistan's military. I believe it is the other way around.
I would so like to see the day when Malala is welcomed back in Pakistan, with the whole country cheering.
by Francesco Sisci
Democratic evolution in China was being seriously considered. The failures of U.S. support for democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Libya gave new food for thought to those opposed to democracy. Lastly, the United States did not strongly oppose the anti-democratic coup d'état that overthrew a democratically elected government in Thailand.
On the other hand, Russia -- dominated by Vladimir Putin, a new autocrat determined to stifle democracy in Russia -- provided a new model.
The whole of Eastern Europe and most of Latin America, formerly in the clutches of dictatorships, are now efficient democracies. This seems to indicate that while democracy cannot be parachuted into a country, there is a broader, longer-term global trend toward democracy and that its growth depends on local conditions.
As economic development needed careful planning, political reforms need even greater planning. The question remains: is China preparing for these political reforms?