Abbas aide: Dahlan is trying to oust PA head

Official: Dahlan thinks he's the "strong man in Fatah;" Abbas fears "young guard" working to get rid of him.

dahlan tough 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
dahlan tough 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Muhammad Dahlan, the former Fatah security commander in the Gaza Strip, is working to oust Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the veteran leadership of the ruling party, an Abbas aide told The Jerusalem Post. Fatah central committee member Hakam Balawi, a former PLO ambassador to Tunis, said Dahlan was responsible for the defeat of the Fatah-controlled PA security forces in the Gaza Strip by Hamas last June. "Dahlan is an opportunist who is spreading chaos, illusions and poison," Balawi said in a statement issued on behalf of the Fatah central committee in Ramallah. "Dahlan's actions and statements have long been based on intimidation, threats and ultimatums." Balawi dismissed Dahlan's assertions that Abbas and the old guard Fatah leadership were responsible for the defeat in the Gaza Strip. "Dahlan is under the illusion he's the strong man in Fatah," he said. "All he wants is to preserve his position [inside Fatah] and to create divisions." A senior Fatah official told The Jerusalem Post that the unprecedented attack on Dahlan had received a green light from Abbas, who is convinced that Dahlan and other young guard members of the party are seeking to get rid of him. The official pointed out that the attack came amid talk about holding Fatah's long-delayed sixth General Conference to elect new central committee and revolutionary council members. The last such conference was held in Tunisia in 1987. Earlier this month another top Fatah operative, Abu Ali Shaheen, dropped a bombshell when he went on the record to condemn Abbas as a failed leader who was incapable of making the right decision at the right time. Shaheen, a former PA minister, also held Abbas and his old guard colleagues in Fatah responsible for Hamas's takeover of the entire Gaza Strip. In response to the allegations, Dahlan accused Balawi of spying for Israel when he was ambassador to Tunis. Dahlan said Balawi and his aides had planted spies in Abbas's office in Tunis. Abbas was then the No. 2 in the PLO and was based, along with the rest of the PLO leadership, in the Tunisian capital. Dahlan accused Balawi and other veteran Fatah leaders of seeking to destroy his reputation on the eve of the Fatah conference to prevent him from being elected as one of the party's top leaders. "It would have been better for Balawi to rise to defend the dignity and lives of Fatah members who are being targeted by the Hamas gangs in the Gaza Strip," Dahlan said. "If anyone is jeopardizing the unity of Fatah, it's Balawi and his friends, who are providing our enemies with ammunition to attack us." Meanwhile, Gaza's Hamas rulers on Saturday accused aides of Abbas of being behind a plot to assassinate a top Hamas official, setting off an angry verbal exchange between the bitter rivals and further dimming prospects of reconciliation. At a news conference in Gaza City, senior Hamas official Said Siam presented details of what he said was a plot to assassinate Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Siam aired confessions of alleged suspects, including several who said they received instructions from a senior Abbas aide. Abbas's office denied the claims - including the videotaped confessions of two would-be suicide bombers - as fiction and denounced Hamas as an "outlaw movement." One of the suspects, Nafez Dabaki, said in the video that he had been offered $70,500 if he blew himself up at a mosque where Haniyeh was praying. Dabaki said he was asked three times to carry out the attack, but didn't go through with it. Another alleged conspirator, Muhammad Kheil, said he had been asked to kill Haniyeh at a public rally. Kheil said he carried 25 kilograms of explosives in a backpack, but was spooked by security guards at the rally and left. Siam said Hamas was increasingly less inclined to engage in dialogue with Abbas and his aides. "How can we talk about dialogue with this group after we discovered this conspiracy which received the blessing of senior leaders who are sitting in the Mukata [Abbas's headquarters] in Ramallah," Siam said. AP contributed to this report