Friday, June 22, 2007

A planned result ?

Mohammed Dahlan, seemingly politically unfazed by the recent events, said in a Reuters interview that Hamas "fell into a trap" laid by Israel when it took control of the Gaza Strip. There isn't any elaboration on how the trap was set, and certainly there isn't any indication of Dahlan's role or that of anyone else in particular.

Charles Levinson, at, who talked to a number of Fatah fighters in Gaza following their defeat, summed up his findings this way:
Fatah never fought. Gaza was essentially handed over to Hamas. Soldier after soldier said they felt betrayed and abandoned by their leadership. There was a seemingly willful lack of decision making by the senior most political leadership. Up and down the Gaza Strip from the first moments of fighting, the military leadership disintegrated while the political leadership remained eerily silent.
Levinson goes out of his way to point out there are any number of good reasons for the defeat from a military point of view, but certainly the Dahlan remark about the "trap" does correspond quite nicely with Levinson's observation that during the crutial time "the [Fatah] political leadership remained eerily silent."

If the Hamas victory was one "surprise", the second "surprise" wasn't long in coming, in the form of Abbas' immediate "firing" of Prime Minister Haniya, estblishment of an "emergency" government, and denunciation of Hamas as terrorist killers with the aim of setting up a takfiiri emirate. This is much more the language of Washington than that of Ramallah. Two back-to-back "surprises"...

Then there is the point about US policy. The US-authored "Action Plan" of February talked about the need to re-affirm Abbas and Fatah as the "center of gravity of the Palestinian leadership", via security, economic, and political means, so as to make sure that his international support didn't continue to decline as a result of the Mecca-accord on a unitary government with Hamas. None of the specific "action" points in the Action Plan came to fruition--not optimism respecting talks with Israel; not quick-fix economic development; not even Fatah control of security. So faced with that, it is reasonable to assume that the Washington-Israel-Fatah people had given some thought to an alternative that would promote the same ultimate end: ensuring international support for the Fatah leadership, and also promoting the same ultimate end of isolating Hamas economically, politically and with respect to security.

Logic suggests what happened could well have been the result of a deliberate policy choice. Dahlan in fact says it was that, when he says Hamas fell into an Israeli-laid trap. And the Levinson interviews with surviving Fatah fighters suggest they feel that way too.

And the "intelligence debacle" first reported, in alarmist tones, by the disinformation site DebkaFile? While subsequent remarks by Hamas people suggest there was in fact some intelligence leakage, it is also possible that in the overall picture, we can identify the particular disinformation-purpose served by the Debka scoop: To make the Fatah defeat look like something truly unexpected and not planned beforehand.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I meant to do that."

Yeah righ' wha'ever you say Mohammed.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree entirely Badger. Abbas held off ordering the PNA security forces to defend themselves until 5 days in, when it was too late. In contrast he moved with uncharacteristic speed and decisiveness when it was all over. And still seems to be keeping up the momentum - ordering NGOs to re-register and new travel documents. That trip of Dahlan's to Egypt for the "knee op" reminds me of Sistani's convenient bunk to London for heart treatment in August 2004.

11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes and of course there are already plans in the works for "early elections."

Perhaps the result of those elections will look more like the Egyptian results...

The thing is, ultimately even the US can't really deliver much to the Palestinians in the way of real development or nation building. It will just be a cash dump that will go to the pockets of the "inner circle." It's not as if Israel is suddenly going to open Jewish-only roads in the territories, uproot settlements, or be infused with generosity and offer to share the water supplies equally. So it will be interesting to watch as this ploy ultimately backfires, which it inevitably will. Unless Abbas and his lot are happy with what will basically be slave-holding pens (hemmed in cities full of hungry and desperate people willing to work for anyone at any price), which is about all I see can coming out of this for the Palestinians without some truly revolutionary changes in the situation on the ground. All of which only Israel has the power to make.

5:57 AM  

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