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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Why Fatah lost Gaza and what should be learned from it

In yesterday's JPost, Khaled Abu Toameh, who is probably the most honest inside view of the 'Palestinians' in the Israeli media, wrote a scathing indictment of Fatah. It should be read, especially by US and other Western policymakers who are about to make the same mistake all over again by backing 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen.
Fatah lost the battle for the Gaza Strip not because it had fewer soldiers and weapons, but because it lost the confidence and support of many Palestinians a long time ago.


Mahmoud Abbas, who succeeded Arafat in January 2005, had run on a platform that promised Palestinians an end to corruption, mismanagement and nepotism. That's why more than 60 percent of the Palestinians then gave him a mandate.

But after Abbas came to power, he did almost nothing to fulfill his pledges. Instead of fighting corruption, he surrounded himself with symbols of corruption and former Arafat cronies.

Instead of ending the anarchy and lawlessness, he promoted notorious warlords, and for the first time, the number of Palestinians killed in internal fighting under Abbas was higher than those killed by Israel. And instead of dismantling gangs and militias, whose members had long been terrorizing the Palestinian public, Abbas rewarded many of them by granting them "military" ranks and placing them on his payroll.


US-backed efforts to undermine the Hamas-led government over the past 16 months have failed, largely because most Palestinians clearly do not regard Fatah as a better alternative to Hamas. In the aftermath of its defeat in the 2006 election, Fatah failed to draw the conclusions and get rid of all the icons of corruption among its top brass. Moreover, Fatah did not engage in any kind of internal reforms, and representatives of the young generation remained marginalized.


BY OPENLY embracing Abbas and Fatah, Washington has caused them grave damage. The weapons and funds that were supposed to boost Fatah ahead of a confrontation with Hamas have only increased Hamas's popularity on the streets of the Gaza Strip. The public support for Fatah made Abbas and Muhammed Dahlan look, in the eyes of many Palestinians, like Antoine Lahad, the former commander of the pro-Israeli South Lebanon Army. And when a Palestinian sees that the Americans are trying to bring down his democratically-elected government, his sympathies go straight to the government and not to those allegedly involved in the conspiracy.
Read the whole thing.


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