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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Fatah conference turning into a zoo

The sixth Fatah conference is exposing all sorts of problems within the Fatah movement.

One major issue, which has festered since 1989, is that the leaders of the first intifada have been consistently marginalized by the "old guard," the Arafat loyalists who dominate Fatah and who came to the West Bank from Tunisia in the early 90s. The old guard continues to use political maneuvering to stay in power and keep the status quo.

Another major disagreement at the conference is between the blocs controlled by Mohammed Dahlan and those of his rivals, Jibril Rajoub and Ahmed Qorei. It appears that jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti is also anti-Dahlan, but Dahlan has a devoted following, especially among the Gaza members. (Gaza members wanted to hold separate elections for their leadership since they were prevented from attending by Hamas, but that was nixed as well - in the name of unity, of course.)

Another undercurrent is the clashes between the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the attendees who want a return to armed "resistance" against the members who prefer the more "peaceful" resistance of rock throwing and slingshots.

The predictable result is that the conference is turning into a zoo. Heated debates have turned into shouting matches and insults. When the Central Committee decided not to issue a written report but only to present it orally, chaos broke out and Mahmoud Abbas instructed his bodyguards to eject members of the congress.

It looks like the conference is being extended an additional day because the issues are not getting ironed out. What was supposed to be a show of Fatah strength is instead another example of the utter inability of Palestinian Arabs to organize and rule themselves.