Excellent und deshalb separat.
Following the battle between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza, it seems Fatah will lose again. Meanwhile, rumors are growing that Abu Mazen’s days in power are drawing to an end
This article appears here thanks to cooperation between Omedia and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Hostilities have resurfaced between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza. The main fighting is taking place in the open spaces surrounding the mosques, where Fatah supporters are trying to organize mass outdoor prayer assemblies to protest the Hamas take over of the formerly Fatah-controlled mosques. Their argument is that Hamas is making them centers for political activity. Apart from the protest there is also a resurgence of terror aimed at Hamas.
To understand the possible effects of this new development, we need to understand its background, which goes beyond the direct hatred and genuine desire for revenge common among the defeated Fatah’s ranks.
Analyzing the events of Friday 7/9 leads to the conclusion that Fatah will again lose to Hamas. Not because they don’t stand a chance, but because the propaganda campaign is being driven mainly by the race for the leadership in the post-Abu Mazen era. Abu Mazen’s announcement that he does not intend to run for a new term means that at most, he will leave office in a year and a half. There is a slight chance of Abu Mazen resigning after the international conference if it fails in November. Whether this assessment is correct or not it will heat up the internal race within Fatah which has already negatively affected the propaganda in Gaza and brought about the setback of last Friday’s events.
Who Is Competing?
Three groups are vying for the leadership: the old guard of the “founding generation”, “the young guard” of the Tanzim, and a group of business people—there is also in-fighting inside each group.
Who Does Abu Mazen Support?
As things appear on the outside—one thing is clear—Abu Mazen supports the group of independents and business people—after all, that is the government he set up—without representation from the other groups. Abu Mazen has good reasons to strengthen this group —the United States wants them, and during his prime ministership Fatah made life difficult for him. Also, everyone knows about his disagreement with Kadoumi. Still, we can’t rule out the possibility that in the end Abu Mazen is still loyal to the old guard to which he belongs. There are two indications to support this: he is going to Rabat Amon specially, to offer the succession to Abu Maher Ghneim, and has told the members of the old guard that he is keeping them away from Olmert’s business so that the “independents” bear the burnt of the failure of the conference. He also suggested to Abu Ala, the leader of the old guard, that he be responsible for the negotiations—the latter rejected the proposals. At any rate, the most impressive fact is that so far, the only person who has been offered the succession is the radical Ghneim, and despite the fact that he turned it down, we still haven’t heard the last word.
How Will All This Affect the Failure of the Planned Hostilities?
Undoubtedly, the man behind the renewed instability in Gaza is Dahlan. Senior sources close to him told us that the week before he spent a million dollar organizing the outdoor prayers and that last Friday every demonstrator was promised NIS 1,000. One thing is sure, unless he manages to reverse his setback in Gaza, he cannot be considered a serious runner in the race. His spokesmen told us that the idea behind last Friday was to “spill blood in the streets”. The fact that the race for Abu Mazen’s office has begun is stopping Fatah from uniting behind Dahlan. Abu Mazen himself published an open call to avoid bloodshed, thus showing his cards against Dahlan’s ambitions. Hamas, which has been working very hard to thwart Dahlan’s plans, besides its effective deterrence against demonstrating, has fomented infighting inside Fatah.
The circumstances around the arrest of Fatah leader and symbol, Zakaria Al-Agha, may tell us most about the state of Fatah: not only does Hamas complete lack of concern about making the arrest show the extreme weakness of Fatah, which was unable to defend its top leader, but according the sources in Gaza, Al-Agha actually came to stop Dahlan putting his plans into action and was about to be attacked by Fatah men. In fact, Hamas’s men rescued him! After being held for two hours, he went home after suffering a nervous breakdown.
In short, Abu Mazen’s premature announcement that he is abandoning ship has generated confusion inside Fatah and ruined its chances of fighting Hamas in Gaza, and possibly in Judea and Samaria.