Analysis: Abbas's growing predicament

Fatah's Kaddoumi allegedly forged 'unholy alliance' with Hamas against Abbas.

October 19, 2006 00:00
2 minute read.
Analysis: Abbas's growing predicament

abbas waves 298.88. (photo credit: Ahmad Gharabli )

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's efforts to replace the Hamas-led government suffered a major setback this week when it turned out that even senior members of his Fatah party are opposed to such a move. Earlier this week, Abbas arrived in Amman to seek the backing of the Fatah central committee, one of several Palestinian key decision-making bodies, for his plan to fire the Hamas government. Shortly before the meeting, Abbas learned that many committee members were opposed to his plan and decided to return to Ramallah immediately. Sources close to Abbas are convinced that Farouk Kaddoumi, a hard-line leader of Fatah who is based in Tunis and who maintains a close relationship with Hamas and Syria, had incited the rest of the central committee members against the plan to get rid of the Hamas government. They claimed that Kaddoumi, who visited Damascus over the weekend, had forged an "unholy alliance" with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to thwart Abbas's plan. The latest crisis in Fatah, as well as reports that the US has allocated $42 million to back opponents of the Hamas government, are seen by many Palestinians as a sign of Abbas's growing predicament. On the one hand, Abbas cannot make a far-reaching decision such as firing the Hamas government without the backing of his own Fatah party. On the other hand, the reports about US intervention in the internal affairs of the Palestinians make it almost impossible for Abbas to make any serious decisions. The last thing Abbas needs these days is to be seen as conspiring with the US against a democratically elected government. That's why Abbas reacted with fury to the leaking of an official US document outlining the plan to overthrow the Hamas government. Moreover, reports that the Americans are training and funding members of Abbas's Force 17 "presidential guard" ahead of a possible confrontation with Hamas have played into the hands of Hamas, whose leaders are now openly talking about a US conspiracy to overthrow the government. On Wednesday, Abbas was dealt yet another severe blow when Kaddoumi called for dismantling the Palestinian Authority and announced his opposition to the formation of a "technocratic" government. Kaddoumi, who on previous occasions has publicly challenged Abbas, made his remarks in an interview with Al-Jazeera. What was interesting about Kaddoumi's appearance was the fact that on the wall behind him was a picture of Yasser Arafat and not Abbas. On Tuesday night, Abbas summoned a group of Palestinian journalists to his office and hinted that he was about to make a "decisive and important" decision. Referring to the severe financial crisis in the Palestinian territories in the wake of international sanctions, Abbas declared: "Bread is more important than democracy." Yet this is not the first time that Abbas has threatened to dismiss the Hamas government. Over the past few months, he has repeatedly issued similar threats. "Abbas's problem is that no one takes him seriously, not even his closest aides," said a Palestinian academic from Ramallah. "Some of his aides describe him as a weak figure who doesn't know exactly what he wants."

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