Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

What is the Problem with Abbas? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An organized campaign against the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is being carried out by the media of Iran, and its allies and agents in the region [of the Arab world]. Its goal is to make Abu Mazen appear to be weak. The campaign intensified following the Fatah conference and the forming of the new government. So on what basis is Mahmoud Abbas still present?

These campaigns are trying to illustrate the weakness of Mahmoud Abbas by comparing him to Hamas and this is unfair. Does Hamas have a national project? What has the Hamas movement achieved since its electoral victory and its armed coup against the [Palestinian] Authority?

The answer is nothing of course! It has done nothing but split the Palestinian Cause and hand it over to Iran, and has deepened the suffering of the people of Gaza. Hamas took part in the Palestinian elections knowing in advance that this only came about as a result of the Oslo Accords, so if the movement rejects these Accords, why did it accept [taking part in] the elections?

It is wrong to compare Mahmoud Abbas to Khaled Mishal as there is big difference between the two; Abu Mazen is leading a proper national project in which he has not taken up arms against his own people even when Hamas plotted to assassinate him and when Hamas carried out an armed coup in Gaza. Rather, Abbas continues to communicate with Hamas, in search of unity, whilst Hamas is saying to America “please talk to us”.

Here we have Hamas stopping its rocket attacks after realizing that these result in nothing but scaring the people of Gaza and strengthening Mishal’s power. For that reason, the use of weapons against the Palestinians is something that Abbas is not doing.

Another important issue is that Hamas gets financial support and weapons from Iran and its allies, some of whom are from the Gulf. Moreover, it gets protection and coordination from Syria and this is what turned Mishal into a king on his throne who nobody in Hamas would dare defy as they are aware of the severe consequences. Abu Mazen does not repress others and does not seek international protection in order to repress his opponents.

As for the issue of the Fatah conference, it demonstrated the necessity of standing by Mahmoud Abbas, especially as some say that Abu Mazen does not need to set the battle alight right now! But what many people do not know is that Abbas is standing in front of “two fires” as one well-informed figure told me.

Fatah is the Palestinian people’s party. Those who join it are not affiliated to one ideology or another and the movement requires a framework that encompasses them as its framework is much smaller than the size of Fatah. It is strange that some of those considered the young generation of Fatah will be retiring in the next few months, whilst some leaders who were voted in 20 years ago are still in their positions.

Therefore Abu Mazen today is engaging today in a battle of the new versus the old generation, not to settle accounts but to modernize the party so that Fatah will be able to keep up with the movement going on around it.

One member of the movement told me, “Whilst the world is talking about Obama using his Blackberry, many people in the Fatah Central Committee don’t even know how to use a mobile phone!”

Do we want Abbas to complete the Palestinian nation-building project and to establish ties with the world in the interest of the Palestinian Cause or are we calling for it to follow the ways of Hamas and to repress its opponents who are said to be strong?

The real problem with Abu Mazen is that he is a respectable statesman in a region where the concept of appreciating thugs is still flourishing.