London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Major General Tawfiq al-Tirawi, the head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, has confirmed reports of his dismissal from his post and told Asharq Al-Awsat Tuesday that he was informed of the dismissal decision three days ago and stressed that he rejected any other post that President Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazin), who he met at 20.00 hours local time yesterday, offered him.
On his future plans after leaving his present post, Al-Tirawi, who was speaking for the first time after the report of his dismissal was leaked, said he intends to continue his education and intends to visit Britain to learn the English language and also wants to spend four months learning Hebrew and also intends to prepare for a doctorate in political sciences.
An informed source close to Al-Tirawi attributed the reason for the sudden dismissal to unresolved issues and stated that the dismissal was untimely because it gives the impression that President Abbas has yielded to the pressures of the Hamas movement which has demanded the dismissal of all security services’ commanders, including Al-Tirawi who it considers an enemy in the West Bank. Hamas also accuses Al-Tirawi of being behind the campaign of arrest and intimidation to which its elements are being subjected.
In this context, Maj. Gen. Diyab al-Ali, commander of the Palestinian National Security who had threatened in September to retake the Gaza Strip from Hamas by force has also been dismissed from his post.
The source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the decision to dismiss Al-Tirawi goes back to an old plan by US Coordinator Kenneth Dayton to merge the security services, including the General Intelligence that is at present under the president’s control, with the interior ministry so as to strengthen the influence of Salam Fayyad’s government, according to the source.
The source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, added that Al-Tirawi refused categorically to receive any orders from the interior ministry or Fayyad’s government when the plan was presented almost nine months ago. It referred in this context to the press conference held by Interior Minister Abdul-Razzaq al-Yahya three months ago in which he recommended that the intelligence service should come under the interior ministry. This page was closed as a result of the refusal of Al-Tirawi, considered one of the historic leaders of the intelligence service from the time it was the PLO’s monitoring apparatus under the late Salah Khalaf.
But for the purpose of backing Salam Fayyad’s Government, as the source asserted, the United States reopened this dossier during President Abu-Mazin’s visit to Washington and his meeting with US President George Bush on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in September. According to the source, the US pressures coincided with very intense incitement by some figures around Abu-Mazin and these ended with the dismissal decision.
The source went on to say that Abu-Mazin did not inform al-Tirawi personally of his decision and did not issue a presidential decree as is the custom in similar occasions but asked his security adviser Maj. Gen. Ismail Jabr (Haj Ismail) to go to Al-Tirawi, convey to him the dismissal decision verbally, and offer him the post of adviser with the rank of minister. But according to the source which was present, Al-Tirawi asked Haj Ismail to tell Abu-Mazin that if he wanted to dismiss him then he must tell him this personally. But there was no contact between the two men and they agreed to meet last night.
As the source said, parties in the Fatah movement to which Al-Tirawi belongs, tried to pressure Abu-Mazin into backing down on the dismissal decision but these efforts were in vain as Abu-Mazin insisted on it.
The source pointed to the general discontent with this step in the Fatah circles, which the source claimed could cause troubles for Abu-Mazin because such a decision is considered siding with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad who is considered by some in Fatah as their archenemy, according to the source, who has been trying to weaken them from the first day of being appointed in this post.