Monday, August 02, 2004


Dahlan Rips Arafat

Mohammad Dahlan is certainly speaking more openly than one would expect about the chaos and calls for reform in the Gaza Strip.
In an interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Watan he said: "Arafat is sitting on the corpses and destruction of the Palestinians at a time when they're desperately in need of a new mentality."
Dahlan has marked August 10th on the calendar as the deadline for Arafat: either show movement towards reform or face massive demonstrations in Gaza. And given the way things have been going (kidnappings of government officials, burning of government buildings in Gaza and Jenin, general outcry against corruption in the PA), you'd have to think that Arafat would not want to just let things go until August 10th. On the other hand, it is hard to see Arafat actually making any substantive changes. I think that Arafat probably thinks he can get away with another round of statements/appointments/shiftings of advisors and cabinet members, but I think the crowd in Gaza is riled up enough not to let that sort of faux reform and political talk cool them down. We might see a split of Fatah in the near future, at least in Gaza.
Seventy members of Fatah, Mr Arafat's faction, were meeting to discuss reform and growing anarchy in the Palestinian territories when the 20 men burst in and fired into the ceiling.

The meeting was ended, but not before a letter was drafted to Mr Arafat denouncing the lawlessness and corruption in the authority.

"President Arafat, this may be the last chance for reforming our situation before reaching the end. We need a revolution within our Fatah movement," it said.
Also, of total inconsequence, I thought this sentence from the Guardian article was funny: "Like all critics of Mr Arafat, he believes it is vital that he should remain leader of the Palestinians but more efficient managers should handle Palestinian affairs." You'd like to think that even the most naive journalist would question whether all critics of Arafat believe that he should remain leader of the Palestinians. I think a better analysis would be this: Like all critics of Mr Arafat who think that in the future they may need to cozy up to Arafat to get a high ranking government position, Dahlan would not say that Arafat should no longer be the leader of the Palestinians. But maybe I am just a cynic.

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