Last week I reported that Mahmoud Abbas was monitoring the phone calls of political opponents. A few weeks before that Jordan, at Abbas’ behest, seized Mohammad Dahlan’s assets as well as those of his brother and an unidentified individual.
Palestine Press and Palestine Today are both reporting that Fatah has expelled Samir Mashharawi. Mashharawi is a friend of Dahlan and worked with him in Gaza, when Dahlan was in charge of the security forces. Dahlan was expelled from Fatah back in June, with ratification of the expulsion coming in August.
According to Palestine Press, Mashharawi slammed Fatah a few weeks ago in an interview on Al-Arabiya. Mashharawi reportedly said that Fatah “lacked leadership” and had lost “the spirit of the struggle.” According to Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Mashharawi has been residing in the UAE, where he is engaged in business dealings with Dahlan.
Abbas is also targeting Mashharawi due to his comments in support of Dahlan in the Abbas-Dahlan affair. According to Mashharawi, the dispute between Dahlan and Abbas is“personal” and Abbas is using it as a distraction as he “wants to run away from five years of failure in running the Palestinian Authority and the political portfolio.”
In July 2011, Palestinian Authority security forces, at the behest of Abbas, raided Dahlan’s home in Ramallah. During the raid they arrested 23 guards and confiscated 16 guns and two vehicles. According to Mashharawi, Abbas wanted to do far more.
“They wanted to initiate an armed clash with Dahlan’s men so that the police could open fire. The goal was to kill Dahlan and then announce that he was part of a conspiracy to overthrow the Palestinian president.”
All of these events further emphasize the points recently made by Jonathan Schanzer.
All things considered, Dahlan’s fate is inconsequential. His star fell long ago. More noteworthy is the ruthlessness Abbas has employed in pursuing him. With Washington’s full support to fend off Hamas’s challengers, Abbas has become relentless against anyone who dares challenge him.
While Dahlan will probably not pose a political threat from exile, Abbas will likely keep after him. But it won’t end there, either. The Palestinian president has also picked fights with other potential political threats, including Prime Minister Fayyad, and Yasser Abbed Rabbo of the PLO. All three share a belief that the Palestinian Authority under Abbas has become less transparent and strayed from its original goal: a viable and transparent state that coexists with its neighbors, including Israel.
The Dahlan affair can best be understood as a witch hunt. It underscores the fact that Abbas has consolidated power, and that he will abide no challenges. Abbas’s whims bode poorly for the Palestinian Authority, which may now expend more energy settling scores than resolving the long-standing conflict with Israel.
Don’t you just love Palestinian politics?
Update: Palestine Press is reporting that Mashharawi’s expulsion from Fatah is official. Palestine Press runs a photo, which sums up where Abbas’s mind has been of late.