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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Abbas the totalitarian dictator

Independent Palestinian Arab media has been somewhat lukewarm about the unilateral declaration of independence that Abbas is planning this week at the UN, and one major reason is that they felt that he was not including anyone else in the decision making.

I have pointed out that at least one PLO Central Council member has complained that no other institutions were informed about the move, even those that are supposed to be the official decision making bodies of the PLO.

And plenty of Palestinian Arabs, in the entire political spectrum, have said either that they are against the bid or that they have serious reservations about the potential repercussions.

Looking again at Abbas' interview on Fox, one is struck about how he is speaking:
"You promised me a state by September 2011. I hope you will deliver."‬
"I felt there is no way for negotiations..."
Everything is in the first person singular.

He is not speaking as if he is representing his people - he is speaking as if he is the only person whose opinion matters.

Like a dictator.

This is not a one-time thing. Challah Hu Akbar noticed this Ma'an article yesterday:
President Mahmoud Abbas says he does not plan to form a new cabinet on his return from New York, where he will submit an application for full UN membership.

Asked by Ma'an if he would form a new government on his return to Ramallah, the president said he would only consider doing so when the situation was "more stable."

The Palestinian Authority cabinet resigned in February, but Abbas swiftly reappointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and tasked him with reforming the Ramallah cabinet.

Despite several announcements that the new cabinet was imminent, it has not yet been formed. Since February, the resigned cabinet has been acting in a caretaker capacity.

It was the third time Abbas had designated Fayyad to form a new Palestinian Authority government since June 2007, when Hamas split from the government and took power in Gaza.

No elections have been held since 2006, and the mandate of the president, legislative council, municipal leaders and cabinet have ended. Analysts, and Hamas, said that disbanding the cabinet in February was a tactical move in response to concerns raised about the government's legitimacy as a wave of popular protests swept the region calling for the ouster of unrepresentative leaders.
And Jonathan Schanzer wrote last week (also from CHA)
With the arrival of Salaam Fayyad, then finance minister and now prime minster, the PA began to experience a degree of accountability and transparency. Indeed, it appeared the PA was cleaning up its act. However, in recent years, Fayyad has been sidelined by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas has consolidated power, and he is now abusing it.

One egregious example is the Palestine Investment Fund. The PIF was created in 2002 to manage and distribute the money and commercial interests owned by the PA.[10] The bylaws were established so that its operations would be transparent, since the PIF effectively functions as a sovereign wealth fund. The PIF succeeded in bringing hundreds of millions of dollars of commercial assets in the Palestinian budget into the light of day. The PIF's operating procedures call for the Fund to operate as an independent vehicle for economic stimulus for the benefit of the Palestinian people. In recent years, however, Abbas changed the charter, installed his own choices for board members, placed the PIF under his full control, and neglected to have the PIF audited by outsiders. Today, Prime Minister Fayyad has zero oversight of the PIF, despite his celebrated mandate for transparency.[11]
The "moderate" monicker becomes less and less relevant every day. Abbas has more in common with Syria's Bashir Assad than with any Western leader.

Maybe that's why the anti-Syria protest yesterday in Ramallah fizzled. No support from the government.