Will Abbas be Followed by Dahlan or Barghouti?

by James M. WallAbbas, Araft Dahlan

The headline on a New York Times story sounded innocent enough:

Palestinians Criticize Abbas for Public Fatah Feud at Delicate Time Diplomatically.

This is not an innocent story. It is a Times hasbara presentation that pretends to be “about” criticism by Palestinians of their president for starting a “feud” with Muhammad Dahlan.

Here are key paragraphs in the Times story:

Some of Mr. Abbas’s current difficulties are of his own making. Palestinians say they are baffled by Mr. Abbas’s decision to open up another front within his own Fatah movement by beginning a nasty, public campaign against a onetime ally who Mr. Abbas now sees as a rival, Muhammad Dahlan, a former Gaza strongman and Fatah security chief.

In the two weeks since Mr. Abbas’s opening salvo against Mr. Dahlan, who is living abroad, the Arabic media has been filled with unproved accusations by Mr. Abbas about the long-ago killings of prominent Palestinians, and by both men about collaboration with Israel and financial corruption.

Mr. Abbas even implied that Mr. Dahlan might have had a hand in the mysterious death of Yasir Arafat, the father of the Palestinian cause, in 2004. For the most part, the two camps have not offered detailed responses to all the accusations.

It makes more sense, based on what is in the story, to conclude that the Times is informing its readers that when the peace talks fail, as they most certainly will, the blame will fall on the “inept” leadership of President Abbas.

The story further carries the hidden message that just maybe Israel, and the Times, want President Abbas replaced by Muhammed Dahlan.

They figure it is time for a leader friendly to the Israel/U.S. imperium to take command of the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas tried hard, but he just did not turn out to be the loyal strong man the imperium wanted.

Isabel Kershner, who wrote the Times story, describes Abbas’ political fight with Dahlan as a “feud” inside Fatah, a feud the Times would have its readers believe is unwise because it comes during a “delicate time” in the peace negotiations.

Kershner, painting Abbas with pejorative language, sees the “feud” as “a nasty, public campaign against a onetime ally who Mr. Abbas now sees as a rival”.

Abbas now sees Dahlan “as a rival”?

Dahlan has been a rival since at least 2003. The picture above was taken in 2003. It shows Abbas at left, Arafat, arm raised, in the middle, and Dahlan at right, greeting the public.

Who is Muhammed Dahlan?

In 2008, David Rose wrote an article in the April issue of Vanity Fair, entitled The Gaza Bombshell.

Vanity Fair described its story this way:

After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, the author reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.

The Guardian, commenting  on the Vanity Fair article, highlighted Dahlan’s role:

The central figure in Washington’s plan was Mohammed Dahlan, who had been Yasser Arafat’s security chief in Gaza and who had established close ties with the CIA as early as the 1990s. The magazine cites three unidentified US officials quoting Bush as saying: “He’s our guy.”

The New York Times chose not to remind its readers that Dahlan is far more than an Abbas political rival.  He is a former Fatah leader who was ousted from the party by Abbas.

In 2007, he was the U.S./Israel imperium’s chosen Fatah operative assigned to punish Hamas for winning a free and open democratic 2006 election, which Hamas won not just in Gaza, but throughout the Occupied Territories.

Ali Abunimah, writing in the Electronic Intifada in 2007, presented this disturbing Dahlan background, beginning with a quote from a letter that Dahlan wrote:

“Be certain that Yasser Arafat’s final days are numbered, but allow us to finish him off our way, not yours. And be sure as well that … the promises I made in front of President Bush, I will give my life to keep.”

Abunimah continues:

“Those words were written by the Fatah warlord Mohammed Dahlan, whose US- and Israeli-backed forces were routed by Hamas in the Gaza Strip last month, in a 13 July 2003 letter to then Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz and published on Hamas’ website on 4 July this year.

Dahlan, who despite his failure to hold Gaza, remains a senior advisor to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, outlines his conspiracy to overthrow Arafat, destroy Palestinian institutions and replace them with a quisling leadership subservient to Israel.

Dahlan writes of his fear that Arafat would convene the Palestinian legislative council and ask it to withdraw confidence from then prime minister Mahmoud Abbas, who had been appointed earlier in 2003 at Bush’s insistence in order to curb Arafat’s influence.”

In 2014 the New York Times has this view of  Dahlan“Mr. Dahlan, 52, rose from humble beginnings in a Gaza refugee camp to become a powerful figure in the Palestinian Authority who earned the trust of Israel and the United States. Some saw him as a potential successor to Mr. Abbas”.

To President Bush, strongman Mohammed Dahlan is “our guy”.

marwan Barghouti in court 2002 credit Flash 80It is with good reason that President Abbas is insisting that one of the conditions for the PA to remain in peace discussions after the late April deadline is the release of more senior Palestinian prisoners.

Among the prisoners he specifically names is Marwan Barghouti, (shown here in a 2002 court appearance) considered by many as  President Abbas’ preferred successor.

The Times of Israel writes that in his recent visit with President Obama in Washington, President Abbas indicated that he is reluctant to continue talks with Israel. He did offer, however, conditions that could influence his decision:

Abbas said he would need to receive something from the Israelis if he were to agree [to extend the talks]: a settlement freeze, and a further prisoner release — beyond the fourth group of terror convicts scheduled to go free on March 29. (“Terror convicts” are not Abbas’ words; they belong to the Times of Israel.)

And not just any prisoners, but, according to the London Arabic newspaper al-Hayat, The Prisoner, Fatah Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti. Arab and Palestinian sources confirmed the reports to The Times of Israel

The 2003 picture at the top, is by Jamal Aruri/Agence France-Presse. It appeared in the New York Times. The picture of Marwan Barghouti is from Flash 80. It appeared in The Times of Israel.


About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall writings.me, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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5 Responses to Will Abbas be Followed by Dahlan or Barghouti?

  1. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Jim, Thank you for raising this very important issue.

    Israeli policy has been to extract every pound of concessions from patriotic, moderate Palestinian leaders, until they drain them dry. Then they move to the next potential victim in line.

    Arafat was the first Palestinian leader to recognize “Israel” and he did so before receiving a reciprocal recognition of a Palestinian State, by Israel.
    He agreed to give up 78% of Palestine and be content with 22% of Palestine, namely, East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza.

    And Arafat was the only Palestinian patriot who could do so because of his proven loyalty to the cause and bringing the Palestinian cause to “Statehood”. After all, he was “the father of Palestinian”.

    It is quite likely that Arafat was poisoned by Israeli agents, because they could not extract any more from him.

    Next, patriot Mahmoud Abbas enters stage. Abbas has, personally succumbed to Israel’s demand against allowing the return of Palestinian refugees to Palestine-Israel ’48.

    He has tentatively agreed to land swaps that make a mockery of the pre-June, 1967 borders. He failed to stop Israel’s continued settlement building and continued arrival of terrorist American-Russian colonial settlers.

    He has agreed to the charade of peace talks, combined with relentless Israeli settlement expansion, rather than bring Israel to The World Court for multiple crimes, including illegal occupation, ethnic cleansing, annexation, and apartheid, to name a few.

    So, now, Israel and US want to bring in Dahlan for the milking. They figure they can get him to go beyond what Abbas has already succumbed to, namely, the recognition of Israel “as a Jewish State” and, who knows, perhaps calling Jordan, “Palestine”?

    They also have super patriot, Marwan Barghouti, up their sleeve. He was held in Israeli prison for many years, now, I wonder what physical- psychological crimes they have committed against this steadfast Palestinian?

    His turn will surely come. The mind-mutilating Israeli terrorist psychiatrists and psychologist are surely preparing the grounds so he will one day emerge from prison, as the Palestinian Mandela. He will make the stage appearance as a “Savior” of Palestinian freedom, but he would be psychologically, mentally, and physically deformed, in preparation for the next “milking” stage.

    I have no doubt that all the Palestinian figures above are patriots and they have given their lives for the cause, but they are illiterate, when it comes to the combination of sophisticated Israeli-US gamesmanship.

    It is time for Palestinian leadership to say enough is enough, and make a B-Line for La Hague. Otherwise, they will remain in La-La Land.

  2. Fred says:

    The new York Times has always pushed Israeli popaganda. It is a heavily pro Israel paper, staffed with many ardent zionists and Israeli Firsters. This is one reason Americans are so ill informed.

    Israel has no interest in a settlement, with the Palestinians, otherwise they would not be building these massive settlements, and demolishing non Jewish homes all the time, and in the middle of peace talks as well.

    The fact is that Israelis speak “with fork tongue” and have been deceitful in their claims of wanting a deal. They don’t. They have all of Palestine in an apartheid state, and have no intention of giving Palestinians equal rights under the law. They kill all opposition and even non violent protesters, and the world does not put them on sanctions.

    Israel annexed the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, and the world just yawned. Look at the contrast between how the US is dealing with Russia over Crimea, when the Crimea was Russian for centuries, and the Golan Heights was part of Syria for millennium when Israel annexed it. The double standard is laughable.

    As long as money calls the shots in the US political system, the Israel Firsters in this country will control our congress and government policies as they have for decades regarding the middle east.

  3. Samia Khoury says:

    We have a saying in Arabic, “if you do not want to knead the dough, you keep sifting the flour” and Israel has been sifting the flour for more than 20 years. If it were interested in peace, it could have been achieved. Unfortunately they have been using Palestinian leaders as pawns on a chess board and they move them as they please. It is very sad that after all the compromises both Arafat and Abbas made for the sake of peace, the Palestinians ended up with neither the land nor peace. Yes indeed the Palestinians feel ashamed that this internal feud could take so much of the energy of the leadership, as if it was not bad enough to have the split between Fateh and Hamas at a time when the whole world is allowing Israel to get away with all its annexation, building of settlements and violations of human rights.

  4. It’s hard to imagine a PA leader more acquiescent to Israel and the U.S. than Abbas.

  5. I’ve just found the time to read and absorb the above four comments. Each, in its way, is excellent, and I admire all. Paul, your analysis is really, really compelling. Let’s also reflect on the Zionists’ at-will sadistic and unpunished assassinations of so many potential Palestinian leaders, quite aside from those who have risen to the top through such mediocrity as to please their USrael manipulators. (I do exempt President Arafat from my scorn: as flawed and tragic as he was [became], he was the father of his people, and I am convinced that there would be no viable, resisting Palestinian polity without his having served his people for so many agonizing years.)

    Jim, you have once again outdone yourself and triggered these several on-point observations. Thank you, sir!

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