Abbas Versus Dahlan: Both Don't Belong To The Realm Of Saints
19 March 2014
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Khalid Amayreh is an
American-educated journalist living in the Hebron
region of the West Bank.