June 06, 2007
Hypocrite Mahmoud Abbas
Who ever claimed that Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, is working in the interest of his people will have to reconsider.
In blantent hypocrisy Abbas today expressed his deep fear that the Palestinians are on the verge of civil war:
"Regarding our internal situation, what concerns us all is the chaos, and more specifically, being on the verge of civil war," Abbas said in a televised speech ..
He added that he has spent hundreds of negotiating hours trying to halt the bloodshed because the internal fighting is as bad as, or even worse than, the occupation.
Hamas did win the last election against Abbas' Fatah. Since then Abbas is doing everything he can to undermine a Hamas administration.
With Israeli and U.S. support he is now the one who is activly instigating a civil war with Hamas and its supporters. As Christian Science Monitor reported:
Last week, when that fighting veered towards open warfare between the Palestinian factions, Israel allowed about 500 Fatah loyalists to cross back over the Rafah crossing into Gaza from Egypt, where they were receiving US training, an unusual move for Israel, which seeks to strictly limit the movement of fighting-age men through the Gaza border with Egypt.
There is one very dangerous man behind Abbas running this scheme. He is alleged of having ties with U.S. and Israeli intelligence services:
The internal Palestinian fighting has helped bolster the position of Fatah members like Mohammed Dahlan, who heads the Palestinian National Security Council. Mr. Dahlan, who has spent five years in prison for alleged terrorism against Israel, has considerable armed support in Gaza and his supporters have sought to destabilize Palestinian governments when he's been sidelined in the past.
It requires quite some chutzpa for Abbas to warn of civil war, when he and his friend Dahlan are working to lauch one.
Hamas once was founded with tacit Israeli support and groomed to be a counterweight to the Arafat's Fatah.
[V]arious sources, among them United Press International, Le Canard enchaîné, Bill Baar, Gérard Chaliand and L'Humanité have highlighted that Hamas' early growth — before its official founding and the creation of the military branch — had been supported by the Mossad as a "counterbalance to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)".
Now Israel and the U.S., with support of Egypt and Jordan who fear Hamas as an example for their internal opposition, are fighting the ghosts they once called. But I doubt that Hamas can in any way be extinguished again and that the Palestinians will ever united behind Fatah again.
But here comes an alternative. Or is this another ghost called for some special purpose?
A mysterious fundamentalist organization is blowing up Internet cafes and music stores within the Gaza strip:
In the town of Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border last week, a huge bomb wrecked a pool hall in a building owned by Ramzi Abu Hilao, blowing out the front wall and littering the interior with metal scraps. He said there was no warning before the blast.
"I received a written message after the bombing from a group called 'The Swords of Truth' that began with a verse from the Koran and said they wanted to correct the bad behavior in Palestinian society," he said.
Who is this group? Who finances it? Who is grooming it for what purpose?
We don't know. But we know that the Sunni fundamentalist group currently hiding in a Palestinian refugee camp in North Lebanon was financed by Saudi sources and had the support of the Hariri government. This for the purpose to fight the Shia Hizbullah.
That group's creation led to a blowback. Whoever created and supports 'The Swords of Truth' as counterweight to Hamas should fear the same.
But all this fighting and brutal powerplay for personal gain is done of the back of the Palestinian people. After fourty years under occupation they certainly deserve a better fate and better leaders than Abbas and Dahlam.
Hamas could provide such. But hampered as it is by western boycotts, it cannot deliver a better life. Now the people might turn to a more radical alternative.
Posted by b on June 6, 2007 at 12:42 PM | Permalink
Hypocrisy isn't the term I'd use here. I consider that a light offense, a do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do kind of thing. This would be more like "lying" approaching "treachery."
Posted by: Rowan | Jun 6, 2007 1:41:27 PM | 1
I am skeptical of the charge that the Sinora government was a party to the insertion of extremists like these into the Palestinian camps. An action like that would be harmful to a government as shaky as Lebanon. This operation would seem to be a source for chaos, and not particularly significant against Hezbollah. To me it looks like a strictly outside job ; probably organized by those in Bush administration with outside Sunni help. Sinora's idea would not be for chaos that is likely to push Lebanon in the direction of sectarian war. And the prime minister's use of the Lebanese army to stamp out this faction is not consistent with the idea that he helped bring them into the country to create discord in the first place.
Posted by: Copeland | Jun 6, 2007 2:44:37 PM | 2
@Copeland - Isn't it funny that Seymour Hersh reports about some danger in March that then happens in May.
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser.
This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”
American, European, and Arab officials I spoke to told me that the Siniora government and its allies had allowed some aid to end up in the hands of emerging Sunni radical groups in northern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and around Palestinian refugee camps in the south. These groups, though small, are seen as a buffer to Hezbollah; at the same time, their ideological ties are with Al Qaeda.
During a conversation with me, the former Saudi diplomat accused Nasrallah of attempting “to hijack the state,” but he also objected to the Lebanese and Saudi sponsorship of Sunni jihadists in Lebanon. “Salafis are sick and hateful, and I’m very much against the idea of flirting with them,” he said. “They hate the Shiites, but they hate Americans more. If you try to outsmart them, they will outsmart us. It will be ugly.”
Fatah al-Islam was on the Saudi/Hariri paylist. But Saudi policy changed. Bandar was silenced by King Abdullah and the King sponsered a unity government in Palestine.
Payment for the Salafis in Lebanon was stopped. (Fatah al-Islam was said to have raided a bank which started this whole shit. There were reports that they were trying to cash in their paycheck and it wasn't covered. Only then did they decide to "robb" the bank (owned by some Hariri related folks))
Sinora is a Hariri puppet and Hariri (jun.) is like his father a well connected Saudi billionaire making his money in Lebanon.
Posted by: b | Jun 6, 2007 3:25:51 PM | 3
@Copeland: It is suspicious at least that Fatah al Islam was able to build up a militia as strong and heavily armed as this one seems to be. Here is some more on that from the Link to ACLU:
Palestinian refugees fleeing from Nahr al-Bared camp have been quoted in press reports saying that Fath al-Islam militants had infiltrated into the camp over the past year, that they were very separate and didn't have much contact with the camp residents except to condemn them for smoking, or playing music, or putting up posters. One of the things a refugee witness remarked on was that the camp is guarded on all sides by the Lebanese army. He wondered how these militants got in noting that they didn't drop in from the sky. How would you answer that question?
ABUKHALIL: I think it is certainly suspicious how all these people came into Lebanon, and all indications are that they came into Lebanon legally. We are not talking about infiltrations like those the American media talk about in Iraq. So they came to Lebanon with their passports, came through port entrances controlled by the Lebanese security forces and army and settled in those camps, and as you rightly indicated all these camps are under watch by the Lebanese army.
In an interview on Al-Arabiya television on May 23, the Lebanese defense minister, Ilyas Murr, stated that of the several dozen fighters killed in the battles, not a single a fighter is identified as Palestinian. He said they are mostly Lebanese, Saudi, Yemeni, Algerian, Tunisian, Moroccan and so on.
Posted by: Tzombo | Jun 6, 2007 4:16:01 PM | 4
You may be right, Bernhard; but I still have doubts about Sinora's involvement. If what is going on with the Lebanese army perplexes Fisk, an expert on the region and longtime inhabitant of Lebanon; then perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to judge Lebanon's Prime Minister. The foolhardy and treacherous choice Abbas has made in Gaza, to facilitate civil war while condemning it in public pronouncements, may not be the model of what's happening with Sinora and Lebanon. It's just too soon yet to conclude that Sinora is a traitor, simply because we have the template covered in the Hersh article, and the evidence is strong for the Abbas treachery to his people in Gaza.
@Tzombo : These things certainly are suspicious and evidence may indeed point to the Hariri family as the paymasters (or one of the paymasters) of the Fatah al Islam group. But how far up the conspiracy goes in the ranks of the Lebanese government, we don't know.
Posted by: Copeland | Jun 6, 2007 4:49:17 PM | 6
@Copeland - I laud Robert Fisk and read him on anything - except Lebanon. He is firmly in the Hariri camp and some have accused him of quite personal connections.
I don't know about it, but when I read him on Lebanon, there certainly is more partisanship in his writing than on other issues.
But maybe not the Saudi's, but the British did finance Fatah al-Islam. How, you may ask.
BAE accused of secretly paying £1bn to Saudi prince
The arms company BAE secretly paid Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia more than £1bn in connection with Britain's biggest ever weapons contract, it is alleged today.
A series of payments from the British firm was allegedly channelled through a US bank in Washington to an account controlled by one of the most colourful members of the Saudi ruling clan, who spent 20 years as their ambassador in the US.
It is claimed that payments of £30m were paid to Prince Bandar every quarter for at least 10 years.
It is alleged by insider legal sources that the money was paid to Prince Bandar with the knowledge and authorisation of Ministry of Defence officials under the Blair government and its predecessors. For more than 20 years, ministers have claimed they knew nothing of secret commissions, which were outlawed by Britain in 2002.
An inquiry by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into the transactions behind the £43bn Al-Yamamah arms deal, which was signed in 1985, is understood to have uncovered details of the payments to Prince Bandar.
But the investigation was halted last December by the SFO after a review by the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith.
He said it was in Britain's national interest to halt the investigation, and that there was little prospect of achieving convictions.
Tony Blair said he took "full responsibility" for the decision.
Now $15m per month is quite some pocket change.
Guess where that money went ...
Posted by: b | Jun 7, 2007 2:57:40 AM | 7
Senior Fatah officials ask Israel to allow munitions into Gaza
Senior Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip have asked Israel to allow them to receive large shipments of arms and ammunition from Arab countries, including Egypt.
The group says it needs the weapons to counter attacks by Hamas, which has an overwhelming advantage in the Gaza Strip.
Israel has not officially responded to the request, which includes dozens of armored cars, hundreds of armor-piercing RPG rockets, thousands of hand grenades and millions of rounds of ammunition for small caliber weapons.
In addition, Fatah is organizing yet another paramilitary force in the Gaza Strip, sources say.
Last year, Israel allowed Fatah to bring weapons into Gaza on a number of occasions. Those shipments, which included 2,500 rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition, came from Jordan and Egypt, and were transferred to the Gaza Strip in coordination with Israel.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Dahlan, Fatah's leading figure in the Gaza Strip, is organizing another paramilitary unit. Several months ago, Dahlan established another force, the Presidential Guard, which comprises several thousand fighters trained with American assistance in Arab countries.
The latest group, Fatah's Executive Force, is supposed to counter its synonymous rival in Hamas.
It currently includes about 1,000 fighters.
Posted by: b | Jun 7, 2007 6:48:16 AM | 8
At least get his name right. His name's Mahmoud Abbas or, honorifically, Abu Mazen ("father of Mazen", because his eldest son - now deceased - was called Mazen). But it's not Abu Abbas.
Posted by: Father Ted | Jun 8, 2007 9:53:21 AM | 9
Thanks Father Ted - me stupid - corrected now
Posted by: b | Jun 8, 2007 10:52:57 AM | 10
I agree that it would seem counterintuitive that Siniora would do anything to destabilize Lebanon. But don't overlook (a) the deep racism in Lebanese society against the Palestinian refugees in the country; (b) the fact that Lebanon stands to gain from this unrest in very concrete ways: It is a pretext for the US to increase its aid to the Lebanese Army from a few million to nearly $300 million. (Note that this sum is a bit out of proportion with the threat posed solely by Fatah al-Islam, to say the least!!!) This aid, in turn, will be used to clamp down on Hizbullah when the time arrives... additionally, the US is keen to build an air base in place of the Palestinian refugee camp and that could be attractive in that it would bring economic boom and also confer on Lebanon new strategic importance. Some might see this as a terrible error in that the air base could divide Lebanon against itself, but for a politician like Siniora who is inclined to see the US economic model favorably and to be favorable toward the US, this might seem a very desirable prize. As evidence for my hypothesis, see this:
US President George Bush also announced on 6 June that he was partially lifting a US ban on air traffic to Lebanon, in place since the 1985 hijacking of a TWA airliner to Beirut.
A memorandum released by the White House said Bush permitted "US air carriers under contract to the US government to engage in foreign air transportation to and from Lebanon - of passengers, including US and non-US citizens, and their accompanying baggage; of goods for humanitarian purposes; and of any other cargo or material."
The US has dispatched several military cargo planes from its bases in the region to Beirut over the past two weeks carrying ammunition and other undisclosed equipment to re-supply the Lebanese army, part of a hugely increased $280m US military aid package to Lebanon.
Sometimes a lesser unrest can be traded in for something greater, particularly when the calculus is that the main ones paying the price for this lesser unrest will be the despised Palestinian refugees. Who cares about them anyway...
Or maybe I am too cynical. However, when I read, in the review of Pilger's book posted here on the OT Thread yesterday, that the US cleared the island of Diego Garcia in the center of the Indian Ocean in much the same way and seized it for a permanent strategic airbase once its inhabitants had been conveniently driven out, I find a lot of basis for my suspicions. The War in Lebanon last summer profoundly shook up deeply held assumptions about Israel's strategic superiority, and the US is most likely looking at minimizing Hizbullah's military and psychological influence in the region in any way possible. For both the US and Lebanon, the damage caused to some miserable Palestinian refugees is just kind of extraneous collateral damage, I would guess.
Posted by: Bea | Jun 8, 2007 11:32:05 AM | 11
I seriously don't get how Fatah can still be in "actual power". They were ousted by Hamas at the polls, and now Abbas is making more trouble by creating a government that isn't representative of Palestinian people. Seems Abbas is all talk, he keeps saying that he is promoting peace, but what he keeps doing is produce more infighting amongst the Palestinian people.
To him, its either his way or no way (hence all the fighting). Thats probably how he got propped up to be president, even though Fatah lost and they do not have the backing of the people.
Posted by: ASC | Jun 18, 2007 12:53:35 PM | 12