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The Siege of Mahmoud Abbas - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I cannot but feel that Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Palestinian National Authority will follow the same road of his predecessor, late President Yasser Arafat, the very road that led to his siege in his own headquarters in Ramallah.

Arafat, May God rest his soul, was captured between two parties, that of the extremists of his fellow Palestinian people, and the extremists of the Israeli forces. His fellow Palestinians were proud of the courage shown by the fragile President. They even prevented him from handing over one of the wanted suspects by Israel for smuggling a shipload of weapons. The suspect sought refuge in Arafat”s headquarters and found himself under siege; however, the Palestinians supported his resistance.

Whenever a glimpse of hope emerged, Palestinian extremists would carry out some sort of bombing, in turn causing Israel to retaliate. Israel”s reactions took place despite Arafat”s condemnation of such attacks and denouncing them as acts of terrorism. Undoubtedly, all parties unified against him until he died out of sadness and failure.

I believe that Abu Mazen is following the same path and will share Arafat”s experiences. Abu Ammar (Yasser Arafar) had settled for negotiations and for stopping military action. Unfortunately, however, Palestinian insurgents failed him at the last minute, portraying him to be a weak leader who is not obeyed and who only serves well by waving to his fans from the window of his blockaded headquarters. Abu Mazen will soon endure difficulties with mutinous sects who openly defy him and state that they will never obey his orders, and that they do not seek to liberate their lands except by force and violence rather than through negotiations and diplomacy.

I sincerely hope that my predictions are proven to be wrong, however there is a general fear of the upcoming battle that will determine who is to rule. Without a doubt, there will be painful confrontation that will harm and divide the people in the near future. I hope that this will not be the case; however, we can already see that Abu Mazen will be forced into a difficult position just like Arafat before him. The vicious cycle will begin as soon as Abu Mazen clashes with each party, just like Arafat when he lost every inch of Palestinian land to the Israelis that he had retrieved from the Oslo accords. The Israelis occupied the entire land and had finally reached his headquarters in Ramallah.

For every time that insurgents launched their Katyusha rockets, or sent somebody to blow himself up in a restaurant or hospital, Arafat lost more and more of what he had gained on the international, Arab and Palestinian level. For every blow was a blow to his health, causing doctors to treat him after each crisis. They too were against him. Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians spared him or sympathized with him.

Our sentiments towards Abu Mazen are no less than those that we had towards the late President Arafat. We fear for him and wish for him success, however, politics and the administration of a state are not based on wishes. We wish that those who are against him would seek the democratic path to demonstrate their opposing opinions. We wish that they would give Abu Mazen the opportunity to prove himself as a successful leader and to fulfill his promises. We wish that they would give him a chance to show the world that he is a man of honor. We wish that the leaders of Hamas, Jihad and other factions would not work against their leader despite the differences between them. Their rights, whether they have governmental authority or not in the agreed conclusion of what liberation is, will never be plundered. We wish that our wishes would come true.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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