Wednesday, May 09, 2012

9-May-12: Where does the endemic corruption of Fatah and the PA lead? Try Jenin for starters

Mahmoud Abbas' PA police
Trying to understand the world of the Palestinian Arabs without giving due attention to the analysis of Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh is an exercise in self-delusion. Again and again over many years, it's his insights - delivered  professionally and systematically and often at complete odds with the perceived wisdom - that get to the heart of things. And did we say the man has tremendous courage?

Earlier today on the website of the Gatestone Institute, he breaks a story ("How Journalists Allowed the Palestinian Authority to Fool Them") about what the ongoing corruption of the Abbas regime has wrought and where this is leading. An extract:
The Palestinian Authority has been boasting over the past four years of its success in restoring law and order to the West Bank city of Jenin. Journalists from all around the world were invited to Jenin, once notorious for dispatching suicide bombers to Israel, to report on the Palestinian government's successful efforts... Most of the gangsters... had been recruited to various branches of the Western-funded Palestinian security forces and were indirectly receiving salaries from American and European taxpayers' money... The journalists failed to understand what was really going on in Jenin... Last week, the truth about the situation in Jenin finally exploded in the faces of everyone: the local governor died of a fatal heart attack following an unsuccessful assassination attempt... Palestinian security forces have since arrested dozens of Fatah "outlaws" and police officers for various crimes - including murder, extortion, abductions, sexual harassment and armed robberies... Palestinians say that anarchy and lawlessness are to be found also in other areas in the West Bank where the Palestinian Authority claims to have imposed law and order... It is the Palestinian Authority's security forces that are responsible for the chaos and corruption.
Most of the foreign journalists working in Israel and the PA territory today are too busy filing stories about the hunger striking prisoners to pay attention to this. But Abu Toameh, whose career started at a PLO newspaper, has been pursuing the theme for years. During 2010, he focused several articles on Fahmi Shabaneh, appointed by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in 2006 to root out corruption in the Palestinian Authority. Abbas placed Shabaneh in charge of the Anti-Corruption Department in the PA’s General Intelligence Service. Then in March 2010, Abu Toameh reported that officials of the PA
"seized a house belonging to [Shabaneh after he] exposed a series of scandals that have seriously embarrassed the PA leadership. [They] raided his house in Jericho, destroyed furniture, knocked down walls and confiscated equipment and personal items."
In October 2010, Abu Toameh interviewed Shabaneh who by this time had emerged as a Palestinian whistleblower [see "'Corruption will let Hamas take W. Bank'']. He quotes Shabaneh:
"Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has surrounded himself with many of the corrupt officials who used to work for his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, and that’s why Hamas will one day take control of the West Bank... What happened in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, when Hamas managed to overthrow the Fatah-controlled regime, is likely to recur in the West Bank."
A month later, Abu Toameh published another interview with Shabaneh who by this time was under the threat of an arrest warrant from the Mahmoud Abbas regime, having been forced out of his PA job after exposing  dozens of cases of financial, administrative and sexual corruption among Abbas’s inner circle:
Shabaneh said that he decided to talk to the Post after Palestinian, Arab and foreign media organizations refused to interview him out of fear of being “punished” by the PA. “We don’t have a free media in the Arab world... Al-Jazeera and other Arab media outlets told me that they are afraid to publish anything that angers the Palestinian Authority.” Shabaneh said that even some foreign journalists based in the country had refused to publish his statements, citing various pretexts, including fear of retribution by the PA. “Some of the foreign journalists don’t want to hear negative things about Fatah and Abbas...”
For anyone interested to know what happens when despotic rulers, armed-to-the-teeth police forces, and torrents of foreign aid money get together, Abu Toameh's analysis today of events in Jenin and elsewhere in the PA empire is more than instructive. It's a warning of what's ahead. And it's unlikely that most other reporters will touch it.

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