Fatah’s Dilemma

by Mamdouh Nofal on 25/07/2004

When the events of Gaza occurred, I asked myself are the continuance of the abduction operations, the resignation of army officers and the demand for reform a planned “revolution” in the organization of “corrective movement?” Are we witnessing a partition inside the ruling party (Fatah), with the intent of toppling Arafat and Fatah’s leadership, in order to establish and alternative leadership and impose changes and reforms? What happened was the work of dilettantes aspiring to achieve partial administrative and organizational demands in order to improve their position in the Palestinian Authority and inside Fatah.

In the beginning, Fatah’s leadership accused the regional forces of standing behind these events, and it dealt with the situation as a mobilization by an organization supported by the outside. The abduction operations, the resignations of the Prime Minister and the director of intelligence and the news about the possibility of breaking into Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah played an essential role in establishing this conviction. I said that is unlikely or improbable that these events can be compared to the famous Iraqi, Syrian, and Yemeni models in the 1950s, considering that what is happening in Gaza, and what might happen later in the West Bank, is totally different and difficult to compare to traditional military coups.

Regardless of the just demands that the opposition is calling for Arafat’s decisions pertaining to the organization of the security apparatus and the appointment of General Moussa Arafat as the leader of the National Security Forces, it could be said that what happened inside Fatah is an open conflict for leadership aiming at not only toppling Arafat and his leadership, but also aiming to consolidate the rebellion and promote the status of the opposition inside the movement and the PA.

The sequence of events was based in the fact that the rebellious movement does not have an outside extension, and it was confined in the context of the institutions of Fatah and the PA inside the Strip. Regardless of the accuracy of the Fatah leadership’s information regarding the involvement of regional forces in what had happened, I believe that there is no interest at this stage for any international or regional force in the collapse of the PA; especially that the American administration is busy with the elections and its interest requires calm in Iraq, Palestine, and on the Lebanese and Syrian front. The U.S. cannot handle a surprise such as the collapse of the PA and laceration of Fatah. Everyone knows that the alternative to Arafat is chaos and disarray and it would be very difficult to imagine its consequences. If there were any outside forces involved in the events, its objective is very limited and does not supersede the use of prominent members of Fatah in shaking the stick in front of Arafat’s face and flustering the Palestinian movement after the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

I think that Fatah’s condemnation of Sharon, the occupation and regional forces and blaming them for the problems of emergent and permanent mobilization does not help in identifying the problem. The evasiveness of Fatah’s central authority and its revolutionary council from bearing the responsibility of mounding mistakes and the tense internal relations in addition for preparing the atmosphere for foreign intervention does not provide the appropriate climate for solving the problem.

Sharon employed these events towards assuring his inclinations for a unilateral withdrawal and showing the incapability of the PA to live up to its expectations as being an important partner in any operational arrangements. However, the occupation is not responsible for the intellectual organizational political crises that Fatah is undergoing. Sharon was successful in destroying the strategies of peace, which was expected since he came to power; however, he is not responsible for the mistakes the Palestinians are committing. No doubt that the national and Islamic forces, including Fatah, are responsible for the wide gap between them and the people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The same applies to their failure in reforming the PA and organizing relations based on democratic means.

I believe that the conflict over power has escalated a few steps on the ladder of determination of power and it seems that some are in a hurry to climb the steps and they believe that Sharon is determined to execute his plan. They also believe that Sharon will pullout from Gaza and that billions of dollars from the World Bank will pour into Gaza after the withdrawal. Regardless of the intentions, the chaotic rebellion harmed the PA and Fatah’s leadership.

It is taken for granted to say that the security solution for the problems of Fatah will only complicate things further. Going back to the history of this movement’s convictions based on awareness was always the main drive for struggle between the members of Fatah.